My family's fascinating connection with American history

'My great grandfather answered Lincoln's call for volunteers.'


With all the controversy about the removal of statues in American cities which have stood in honour of the Civil War, I was wondering if many readers like me can say they have a link to that war.

My great grandfather, also a Michael Grogan, migrated to the US in the early 1860s from Ireland. It is thought he left Ireland to seek better opportunities as Ireland at that time was suffering from the great famine.

In 1861 with the outbreak of the Civil War he was living and working in Westborough in Massachusetts as a shoemaker.

He answered Lincoln’s call for volunteers and was enlisted in Captain J Crosby Maker’s Company K of the Twenty-Fourth Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers.

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Their task was to prevent the soldiers from the south accessing the Atlantic ports to secure ammunition and supplies from Europe. We believe he was involved in this campaign, but unfortunately, he was injured, accidentally shot in the arm, how I’d love to know.

But the outcome was he then contracted a disease which rendered him disabled, and he was subsequently discharged. He returned to Westborough.

We have never been able to prove the issue of his living in Westborough. There is a hint that he may have been married while living there but we have not been able to gain any proof of that.

Between 1863 and 1865 he returned to Ireland with a friend from his home town named Conroy and later married his sister Mary.

With the famine still causing much hardship and poverty and with the news that his brother Thomas in Sydney was doing well he packed his small family up, boarded a boat, and the rest is history.

Does your family have a fascinating historical connection? Let us know!