Civil War Reporter

Civil War Reporter I’m Beglan O’Brien, independent newspaper correspondent. The National Park Service sponsors my reports on the events of this terrible and growing conflict.

My name is Beglan O’Brien and I am an independent newspaper correspondent, reporting on the momentous events of this terrible, and growing, coflict. But a bit about me. I am the son of Daniel Patrick O’Brien and Mary Frances McCarthy. That my father married a McCarthy is hardly surprising as Cork is full of them and that is where I was born, specifically, in the village of Dunmanway up the river Bandon. I am the fourth child of six that survived to adulthood. Two have died since. My father is, or was, a stone mason who was insufficiently employed in Dunmanway and so shifted his family to the city of Cork just before the starving time. It is fortunate he did since what little relief there was arrived first at the great ports. I was enrolled for a time at a national school, which provided me with a rudimentary education, but soon left it when I was apprenticed to a printer who published a popular broadsheet. This was the making of me, because whenever there were holes in the sheets, I filled them with whatever came into my head. My master was much pleased. All the more surprising, then, when our journeyman left and I was passed over for his place. I burned with the humiliation and so determined to make the great leap. I would go to America. My elder brother Garrett had already immigrated to New Orleans where he was employed as a clerk in our uncle Ewen’s dry goods store. His letters were filled with enthusiasm for his new city but I thought it best if I struck out for New York. I knew there were many of my fellow countrymen there as well as a plentiful supply of newspapers. Surely there would be a place for me. I was not mistaken. Within a month of landing in June of 1854, I secured a modest situation at the New York Tribune running copy, then two months later a position haunting local police stations and finally a most satisfying posting pursuing scandal, corruption and other sensational news across the whole of the city. By the spring of 1858 I was the Tribune’s sole correspondent in Washington, but soon had a falling out over constant interference with my work. No matter. I had made many contacts and these became the core of what would become a large client list. When the war came, I was a well-respected independent reporter able and willing to follow the story wherever it might lead. Cast of Characters Daniel Patrick O'Brien - father Mary Frances (McCarthy) O'Brien - mother Garrett O'Brien - brother, volunteer in the 13th Louisiana Infantry (Confederate) Ewen McCarthy - uncle, dry goods store owner in New Orleans Sargent Maartin van Dijk - friend, volunteer in the 43rd New York Infantry Army Chaplin Father Rémy LaBelle - priest Peter Able - landlord Rosaleen McCarthy - aunt The Gentleman - covert loyalist Hérbert Montpetit - friend, Union provisioner Elizabeth Smith - Quaker lady friend, volunteer nurse

Mar 15, 1865 - President Lincoln met this afternoon with Robert Hendershot, hero of the battle of Fredericksburg and lat...
03/15/2015
Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 7.

Mar 15, 1865 - President Lincoln met this afternoon with Robert Hendershot, hero of the battle of Fredericksburg and lately featured in Mr. Barnum's museum.

Please see the gallant Drummer-boy, Robert H. Hendershot, whose history is briefly written on the fine drum presented him which he now carries. He must have a chance, and if you can find any situation suitable to him, I shall be obliged. Yours truly

Mar 12, 1865 - Sherman's army, now in North Carolina, has occupied Fayetteville. Can the fall of Richmond  be far off?
03/13/2015
Sherman Captured Fayetteville

Mar 12, 1865 - Sherman's army, now in North Carolina, has occupied Fayetteville. Can the fall of Richmond be far off?

Mar 4, 1865 - President Lincoln is duly sworn for his second term. In his address, he spoke of the desire to "finish the...
03/04/2015
Lincoln's Second Inauguration - Lincoln Memorial

Mar 4, 1865 - President Lincoln is duly sworn for his second term. In his address, he spoke of the desire to "finish the work we are in." Let us hope that work is finished soon.

On March 4, 1865, only 41 days before his assassination, President Abraham Lincoln took his second oath of office.

03/02/2015

Mar 1, 1865 - There is no resistance to Sherman's advance, although it is rumored what is left of the Army of Tennessee is moving east.

Feb 25, 1865 - Tennessee has become the first of the seceded states to abolish slavery. The political tide turns along w...
02/26/2015
Civil War Emancipation

Feb 25, 1865 - Tennessee has become the first of the seceded states to abolish slavery. The political tide turns along with the miliitary. http://bit.ly/1A8I30q

remembering freedom for the slaves ...

02/19/2015
General Sherman's March on Columbia, South Carolina

Feb 18, 1865 - Sherman's army has entered Columbia, amid fires that have engulfed the city. Is Charleston, just 100 miles away, next?

"The truth is, the whole army is burning with an insatiable desire to wreak vengeance upon South Carolina."

Feb 17, 1865 - Last week, preacher Henry Highland Garnet of the 15th Street Presbyterian Church, became the first man of...
02/18/2015
The First African American to Speak in the House Chamber | US House of Representatives: History,...

Feb 17, 1865 - Last week, preacher Henry Highland Garnet of the 15th Street Presbyterian Church, became the first man of African descent to speak in the House of Representatives chamber.

On this date, Preacher Henry Highland Garnet became the first African American to speak in the House Chamber when he addressed a crowd of worshippers. A common practice for the period, the House Chamber was often used by large groups in the Capitol Hill area when the House was not in session. House…

02/12/2015

Feb 12, 1865 - As President Lincoln celebrates his 56th birthday, 13 states have so far ratified the 13th amendment - nearly half way to the required 27.

02/11/2015

Feb 10, 1865 - Martin Robison Daley has been promoted to major of the 102nd United States Colored Troops, the highest ranking colored officer in the Union army. bit.ly/1zubDxc

Feb 5, 1865 - Rumors of peace or an armistice were just that; apparently the only item agreed on at the Hampton Roads Co...
02/05/2015
New York Times, February 5, 1865 - THE REBELLION.

Feb 5, 1865 - Rumors of peace or an armistice were just that; apparently the only item agreed on at the Hampton Roads Conference was that the war will continue.

President LINCOLN and Secretary SEWARD returned yesterday morning to Washington, from Fortress Monroe. They had an informal conference, occupying several hours, with Mr. STEPHENS and his associates, on board the River Queen, in Hampton Roads. The conference is said to have resulted in no change of a…

02/04/2015

Feb 4, 1865 - President Lincoln has returned to Washington and is said to be briefing the Cabinet on his meeting with the Confederate commissioners. There is rumor of a 30-day armistice!

Feb 3, 1865 - We get late word that President Lincoln and Secretary of State Seward met for several hours today with rep...
02/04/2015
Encyclopedia Virginia: Hampton Roads Conference

Feb 3, 1865 - We get late word that President Lincoln and Secretary of State Seward met for several hours today with representatives of the Confederate government near Fort Monroe. Is peace finally at hand?!

The Hampton Roads Conference convened on February 3, 1865, in an attempt to find a negotiated settlement to the American Civil War (1861–1865). As Confederate prospects for survival deteriorated, leaders on both sides met aboard the River Queen at Union-controlled , Virginia. They included U.S. pres…

Feb 1, 1865 - In the wake of yesterday's passage of the 13th Amendment, John S. Rock is today the first black lawyer adm...
02/02/2015
John S. Rock | Voices of the Civil War

Feb 1, 1865 - In the wake of yesterday's passage of the 13th Amendment, John S. Rock is today the first black lawyer admitted to the bar of the U.S. Supreme Court.

John S. Rock. A blog post at "Voices of the Civil War" on 2013-04-25.

01/29/2015

Jan 29, 1865 - Sherman's direction is now clear. He has crossed over into South Carolina and is advancing on Columbia.

01/28/2015

Jan 28, 1865 - The Federals are offering a bounty of $8 for every Confederate deserter who brings across his long gun. They are doing bang-up business.

Jan 27, 1865 - Rebel warships fail to break through Union defenses on the James in a daring attempt to reach City Point.
01/27/2015
Battle of Trent's Reach - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jan 27, 1865 - Rebel warships fail to break through Union defenses on the James in a daring attempt to reach City Point.

The Battle of Trent's Reach[1] was one of the final major naval battles of the American Civil War. Beginning on January 23, 1865, a powerful flotilla of Confederate warships bombarded Fort Brady along the James River and engaged four Union Navy ships with the intention of breaking through the blocka…

01/25/2015

Jan 24, 1865 - Elizabeth assures me that father can be won over. She responds to the father but dispatches another note to the mother as well. 2 against 1.

01/24/2015

Jan 23, 1865 - Elizabeth is upset. Her father, in a letter from home, has suggested that I may not be a "suitable companion."

01/22/2015

Jan 22, 1865 - Sherman's army is once more on the move but its direction is uncertain.

Jan 21, 1865 - Kennedy is only one of many rebel spies and saboteurs said to infest British Canada.
01/22/2015
Conspiracy in Canada — Central Intelligence Agency

Jan 21, 1865 - Kennedy is only one of many rebel spies and saboteurs said to infest British Canada.

Intelligence in the Civil War Conspiracy in Canada In secret sessions during February 1864, the Confederate Congress passed a bill that authorized a campaign of sabotage against “the enemy’s property, by land or sea.” The bill established a Secret Service fund—$5 million in U.S. dollars—to finance t…

Jan 21, 1865 - Robert Cobb Kennedy of the "Confederate Army of Manhattan" is captured at Detroit.
01/22/2015
Robert Cobb Kennedy

Jan 21, 1865 - Robert Cobb Kennedy of the "Confederate Army of Manhattan" is captured at Detroit.

This photographic portrait of Robert Cobb Kennedy, the only person captured and convicted in the 1864 Confederate plot to burn down New York City, was taken on March 23, 1865, two days before his execution. A few hours before he went to the gallows, Kennedy sent copies of the photo, along with locks…

Jan 20, 1865 -   While resting his army in Savannah, Gen. Sherman issues a most singular directive, his Special Field Or...
01/20/2015
Sherman's Field Order No. 15

Jan 20, 1865 - While resting his army in Savannah, Gen. Sherman issues a most singular directive, his Special Field Order No. 15.

On January 16, 1865, during the Civil War (1861-65), Union general William T. Sherman issued his Special Field Order No. 15, which confiscated as Union property a strip of coastline stretching from Ch

Jan 20, 1865 - Were drunken sailors responsible for the munitions explosion at Fort Fisher or was it sabotage?
01/20/2015
NC Historic Sites - Fort Fisher

Jan 20, 1865 - Were drunken sailors responsible for the munitions explosion at Fort Fisher or was it sabotage?

Shortly after sunrise on January 16, 1865, Fort Fisher's main magazine exploded — a tremendous blast that killed at least 200 men of both sides.

Jan 20, 1865 - The disgraced John Bell Hood has relinquished command of the remnants of the Army of Tennessee.
01/20/2015
John Bell Hood

Jan 20, 1865 - The disgraced John Bell Hood has relinquished command of the remnants of the Army of Tennessee.

Born in Owingsville, Kentucky in 1831 and a West Point Graduate at the age of 22, John Bell Hood was one of the most rapidly promoted leaders in the Confederate history of the Civil War. After serving in California and Texas for the United States Military, he resigned his commission in April of 186…

Jan 15, 1865 - Rumors are afoot that elder statesman Francis P. Blair is in Richmond on a peace mission of his own devis...
01/14/2015
Mr. Lincoln's White House - Francis P. Blair, Sr. (1791-1876)

Jan 15, 1865 - Rumors are afoot that elder statesman Francis P. Blair is in Richmond on a peace mission of his own devising, but the papers are silent. Are such talks real?

© 2002- The Lincoln Institute. All rights reserved. A project of The Lincoln Institute founded by The Lehrman Institute.

Jan 13, 1865 - A mammoth amphibious force has captured Fort Fisher, N.C., isolating, Wilmington, the enemy's last seapor...
01/13/2015
North Carolina History Project : Fort Fisher

Jan 13, 1865 - A mammoth amphibious force has captured Fort Fisher, N.C., isolating, Wilmington, the enemy's last seaport.

Until its capture by the Union army in 1865, Fort Fisher was the largest earthwork fortification in the world. The “Gibraltar of the South” protected the port of Wilmington and ensured that the Confederacy had at least one “lifeline” until the last few months of the Civil War. Confederate blockade r…

01/13/2015

Jan 13, 1865 - I begin to ponder a different, deeper relationship with my Elizabeth. Would it be possible, she a Quaker and I a nominal Catholic?

01/11/2015

Jan 11, 1865 - I find myself regaling Nathan, the street urchin and "procurer of rare information", with tales of my "heroic" exploits in Maartin's company.

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General information

NOTE: Beglan O'Brien is a fictional character and not based on an actual person. Though he and his writings are not real, they are composites drawn from actual events and based on correspondents of that era. Civil War correspondents on whom Beglan is based were the primary source for the public to get news of campaigns, battles, politics and other events during the Civil War. Newspaper companies printed stories sent to them from the correspondents, who, much like today’s “embedded reporters,” accompanied the armies during the campaigns. By today’s standards, information traveled slowly and was often difficult to come by, so correspondents supplemented the hard news with rumor and speculation, and often added their personal opinion on the progress of the war, opinions that were not always favorable to the administration or military leadership. Far more than today, newspapers during the Civil War declared themselves either Republican or Democrat, were quite biased in their reporting, and likewise paid their reporters to do the same.

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