Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Notre Dame Students Fighting for the Rebs?! (Part I)

I've recently come across a really interesting research thread for my "Notre Dame in the Civil War" book project which I hope pays off!

After the firing on Ft. Sumter, approximately 60 Notre Dame students left school to join the Union ranks, most of them with units from Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan. Some of these are well known (and you'll learn more about them in future posts!) while others were happy to do their duty and come home.

I had not heard of any Notre Dame students that joined the Confederate ranks...until now!

In my survey of the student enrollment records from 1860-1865 I came across a single student from Virginia: one Michael Quinlan, Wheeling, VA (now WV, of course), who was at Notre Dame from 1860-61 and did not return the following year:

I didn't think it would be unusual - given the "sectional difficulties" - for Michael to have either been called back home or want to go back home himself. However, on a lark, I entered "M* Quinlan" into the National Park Service Soldier and Sailor System (using "Virginia" and "Confederate" as qualifiers) just to see if he *might* have been a soldier and received a few hits:

By clicking on the regiment links, I learned that the "Irish Bn" was formed in the city of Richmond and Hanover County, so it seemed less likely. The 27th Virginia, however, was formed from Alleghany, Rockbridge, Monroe, Greenbrier, and Ohio counties...and Wheeling, VA, is in Ohio County(!)

Next, I used my subscription at footnote.com to explore the Compiled Service Records of the two Michael Quinlans in the 27th Virginia Infantry. One of the two actually enlisted with the 27th in Covington and was listed as a "laborer." The other, though, enlisted in Wheeling (!) and is listed in one document as a "printer" but in a subsequent disability discharge certificate he is listed as...a "student"(!)

So far, things are looking up! Stay tuned for my next post...I received some excellent assistance from a genealogist specializing in soldiers from West Virginia - including the 27th Virginia - and learned even more!

Admittedly, the fact that Michael Quinlan (may have) fought for the Confederacy is a small part of Notre Dame's epic story in the war, but it is a very interesting (and new!) fact, indeed!

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