Did you know that the first man killed in the American Civil War was from Tipperary? Like many other Irish people, Daniel Hough left his home in Ireland and arrived in New York in March 1849. Poverty and disease resulting from the infamous potato famine forced countless Irish people to leave their home and try and find a better life across the sea in America.

Daniel Hough - First Man Killed in the American Civil War
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Two months after arriving in New York Daniel joined the US Army. This was quite a common route that many Irish immigrant men took as it was a sure way of obtaining a steady income. Upon joining the US Army you had to agree to five years of service. It is clear from documentary evidence that Daniel in fact did three terms with the US Army. Firstly in 1849, then again in 1854 and finally in 1859. When he first enlisted his was placed into Company D of the 1st United States Artillery Regiment. His military record states that he had grey hair, blue eyes, fair complexion and stood 5’8 Ft tall.For a brief time in 1857 he was interred in a mental institute as the army doctor labelled him as ‘Crazy’ and wrote in his files that he felt this was a hereditary issue. Later research by other professionals have a different view point. They believe that as he worked primarily with cannons he may have in fact had quite impaired hearing which could account for some of his symptoms. He was eventually released. In 1859, Hough reenlisted and was assigned to Company E in the same regiment. In January of 1861 Company E was relocated to Fort Sumter, Clarleston Harbour, South Carolina.

The location of the first shots of the American Civil War.On the 12th of April 1861, Confederate artillery forces fired at the Union garrison for a period of 36 hours. The union soldiers put up a determined defence but were cut off from their supply line. By the next day Major Robert Anderson had decided to surrender, luckily with all his soldiers surviving. It was during a 50 gun salute to the flag on the 14th April 1861, after their surrender that things went awry. Hough was the 47th Gun of the salute and after getting ready to fire, a spark went off and caused the cannon that he was loading to prematurely explode, killing him instantly. This explosion also wounded five others, including fellow Irish man, Edward Gallway from Skibbereen Co.Cork, who later died of his wounds.Over the years there has been some mystery surrounding the birthplace of Daniel Hough. Historian Tom Hurley, wrote a book on Hough and based on the evidence he found he believed Daniel was born in Borrisokane in 1829. Interestingly a few years later while researching Hough, Historian Damian Shiels, discovered a letter written by ‘William Howe’ that was published in the New York Herald Tribune on June 17th 1865. In this letter William, claiming to be Daniel’s Brother, states the names of Daniel’s Parents and that he was born in Nenagh.

The premise of the letter was to have Daniel’s remains brought from Fort Sumter to Long Island for reburial. Whether this letter is credible is something which requires further research and investigation. Even so, there is still some mystery attached to Daniel Hough, as both men put forward by both Sheils and Hurley have different parents so which Hough is the real Hough remains unknown. Tracing Irish emigrants can be a tricky task, particularly when they moved to the US as the US officials often spelled Irish names phonetically, thus Hough became Howe as can be seen above in the letter from William.The location of Daniel Hough’s burial site remains unknown. He may have been buried at Fort Sumter or perhaps his body was reinterred sometime later at Fort Moultrie cemetery which was nearby. No records of any kind exist to confirm either possibility. Fort Sumter National Monument Historian, Rich Hatcher also throws another possibility into the mix. The siege of Charleston in 1863-1865 saw approximately seven million pounds of artillery fire aimed at Fort Sumter which resulted in extensive damage, it is possible his body, if buried there, was destroyed. Yet another mystery which surrounds Tipperary Native, Daniel Hough.

The image below is Fort Sumter, 1861 with the confederate flag flying after it's surrender.