"Their Stories, Our Heritage, Not Forgotten" Irish Heritage Week, 2020: 9th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry U.S.A.

According to the 1860 US Census the population of the State of Connecticut was home to over 50,000 Irish born immigrants, with many engaged in work as labourers in quarries and on railroad construction.

On the outbreak of the War many of these Irish rushed to join the ranks, enlisting for 3 months. Some of these, serving under officers like Col. Thomas Cahill, Captains Fitzgibbon and Frye would see action at the battle of 1st Bull Run in July 1861.

Within a matter of weeks these enlistments had expired, the regiment returned to New Haven where the bulk of soldiers immediately reenlisted, this time, for the duration. Due to a lack of proper clothing and equipment the 9th Conn. Vol. Infantry would not leave their state until late November, initially going to Camp Chase in Massachusetts before being sent south to Mississippi (December) and onto New Orleans in the Spring of 1862.

Summer of that year would see the men of the 9th, as well as some from other regiments, in Mississippi working on the, unsuccessful, scheme to divert the mighty Mississippi River away from Vicksburg and the Confederate guns defending the city. The hot weather and diseases contributed to the deaths of nearly 150 men from Connecticut before it was abandoned.

Returning to Louisiana, the regiment was heavily involved in the Battle of Baton Rouge (August 63), repelling a number of Confederate assaults. The loss of General Williams was offset by Col. Cahill taking over as commander and the Federal hierarchy widely praised the conduct and courage of the 9th during this battle, reassigning it to New Orleans where it remained until the end of the year.

(Below: The regimental flag of the 9th CT Volunteer Infantry.)

1864 would see the 9th returning to its home state amid great celebrations and to be designated as a “Veteran Regiment”. On its return to the War, the regiment was, this time, sent to Virginia where it participated in the action at Deep Bottom; the outskirts of Washington DC before being sent to the Shenandoah Valley where it was engaged at Opequon; Cedar Creek and Fishers Hill. At Cedar Creek, Gen. Sheridan lavished huge praise on the men of the 9th for their bravery in helping secure the victory. The regiment would lose 30 men at Cedar Creek but was among the first Federal units to “plant” their colours upon captured Confederate positions.

The War would end in April 1865, but it would not be until August that the 9th returned to New Haven, following its disbandment at Savannah, GA. However, they had one more fight in them; upon return to Connecticut Col. Cahill was astonished to find that he had been dishonourably discharged due to his “disobedience of orders and neglect of duty”. It seems that Col. Cahill was somewhat lax in carrying out the paperwork side of command and had simply allowed the veterans of the 9th to simply go home without signing the proper documentation!

The veterans took severe umbrage at this treatment of their commander and rallied to his side. The outcry within the state grew enormously and, eventually, forced the War Department to rescind the discharge.

It was, yet another, small victory for the Federal “Sons of Erin”.

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Tags: 9th CT, American Civil War

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