Last Letters Home: Revealing the Pension File Correspondence of Union Irish Soldiers & Their Families

Irish in the American Civil War

Over recent years I have been compiling a database of those widows’ and dependents pension files which contain primary correspondence from Irish and Irish-American soldiers and their families. As regular readers are aware, these letters feature frequently on the site, but I have only been in a position to share a handful of the 100s I have come across. Having recently been invited to deliver a lecture to the American Civil War Round Table UK in London, I decided to take that opportunity to use multiple letter extracts to explore a number of themes. In order to do this I drew on my database to discuss topics such as literacy, economy, communication, religion, motivation, politics, race, combat, last words and communicating bereavement. Given the time available in the lecture, only a very high-level examination of the material was possible, but nonetheless it does demonstrate a number of potential future avenues…

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