A Song For Mother: Last Letters of A 16-Year-Old Wisconsin Irish Immigrant

Irish in the American Civil War

Some Irish soldiers of the American Civil War were little more than boys. Despite their youth, they often fervently supported the cause for which they fought. Timothy Dougherty was one such emigrant soldier. His antebellum family story is one of hardship and hard work– typical of that of many Irish immigrants in America. During the war, he took the opportunity of his final letters home to display his fervent belief in the war effort, not only in words, but also in lyrics.

Not all Federal soldiers spent their service fighting Confederates. Timothy Dougherty was sent west, to Kansas and Missouri, where he spent more time encountering hostile Native Americans than Rebels. Nevertheless, Timothy was a believer in the cause of Union. Though his adoptive state of Wisconsin had witnessed significant wartime disturbances in opposition to the draft, Timothy clearly had little time for those who opposed the conflict, as his…

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