Hearing the Irish Accent of a Merrimac Victim Across 150 Years

Irish in the American Civil War

On 8th March 1862, the Confederate Ironclad CSS Virginia (formerly the Merrimack) steamed out of Norfolk, Virginia to attack the Federal fleet in Hampton Roads. The resulting two-day encounter remains one of the most famous naval engagements in history. One Yankee sailor would later recall how an awful silence descended over the men of the Union fleet, and ‘not a word was spoken’ as they watched the Virginia’s approach. This was hardly surprising given that they were preparing to meet the ironclad in largely wooden ships. One of their number was Sergeant James Leahy, from Co. Limerick. A member of the 99th New York Infantry, he had been co-opted along with a number of his comrades to serve as a Seaman aboard the USS Congress. A few months before, James had written home to his wife, discussing events at the front and telling her not to worry about…

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Limerick Genealogy provides a professional research service for those with ancestry in Limerick city and county
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