CHARLES T0WN —Local author and historian Bob O’Connor has been writing books, fiction and nonfiction, about people, places and events with connections to Jefferson County during the Civil War.
Since 2013 O’Connor, 74, has focused his research and writing on relatives of people he never knew.
Now, in “Recollections of Michael Minnihan of the 105th Illinois Infantry,”O’Connor’s latest book,” he focused on his ancestor and great uncle, Michael Minnihan. He explained the family connection saying “Michael’s younger brother, John Paul, was my grandfather.”
Michael Minnihan immigrated with his parents from Belmullet, County Mayor, Ireland, in 1840, when he was three years old. The family lived in rural Illinois.
In 1862, he enlisted in the 105th Illinois Infantry at Camp Dixon in Dixon, Ill.
He served for 33 months.
Coincidently O’Connor was born in Dixon.
The 105th Infantry participated in the fighting at Bennett Station in Tennessee and in Georgia, at Kennesaw Mountain, part of Gen. William T. Sherman’s March to the Sea and the capture of Atlanta and Savannah.
“Michael’s adventures took him from Illinois to Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, North and South Carolina and Virginia,” O’Connor said.
The regiment traveled about 2,700 miles by train and on foot. It suffered 238 casualties among its nearly 1,000 enlistees, he said. The 105th marched in the Grand Army of the Republic Victory Parade in Washington, D.C. at the end of the war.
O’Connor’s research included regimental records plus two diaries written by soldiers who served in the regiment. O’Connor gives special credit to Trish Lombard of Spokane, Wash., a direct descendent of Michael Minnihan’s, who helped him piece together his service history.
O’Connor also tapped records in the George Tyler Moore Center for the Study of the Civil War and the background gleaned from libraries and newspapers.
He also came across photographs of his great grandparents, which he had never seen before.
The new book, like many of his works, are historical fictions based on true stories. “I like to write about people and things not written about before that have a connection to Jefferson County,” he said.
His first book in 2006, “The Perfect Steel Trap Harpers Ferry 1859,” is about the John Brown Raid.His biggest book, at 500 pages, is “The Life of Abraham Lincoln: As President.”
In 2010 O’Connor strayed from the Civil War when he wrote “The Centennial History of Ranson, WV — 1910 -- 2010.’
“Recollections of Michael Minnihan….” sells for $14.95 and is available on Amazon, Four Seasons Books and on O’Connor’s website, email@example.com
O’Connor earned a bachelors degree in biology from Northern Illinois University. He taught biology at Hancock and Williamsport high schools in Maryland, then spent the next 35 years in the tourism industry in Hagerstown, Martinsburg and Harpers Ferry.