Connecticut

Cities such as New Haven, Bridgeport and Waterbury became homes to sizeable Irish immigrant populations in the earlv part of the I9th century. I-arge numbers of Irishmen enlisted in the 9th Connecticut Infantry Regiment ("Irish Regiment"), organized at New Haven in September 1861. By the end of that fall the regiment had been transported to the Gulf coast, and by the following spring to New Orleans.

During the hottest part of summer 1862 the 9th Connecticut was assigned to the "Williams (-anal" operation, an unsuccessful Federal project to divert the course of the Mississippi river and bypass Confederate guns at Vicksburg. The lack of safe drinking water, shortages of supplies and sweltering heat (with temperatures soaring to 115°F) quickly took a toll in casualties, and die regiment lost 153 men to malaria and dysentery. (This use of Irish labor by the Federals proved an ironic parallel to the South's use of Irish immigrants for canal-building - work considered too dangerous for valuable slaves.) At Baton Rouge on August 5,1862, die 9th Connecticut's Col Thomas M. Cahill (formerly captain of the Emmet Guard of New Haven) took command of the Federal troops after the death of BrigGen Thomas Williams, and successfully repelled a Confederate assault.

In 1864 the Irish Regiment served in Virginia; on October 19. during Jubal Early's offensive in the Shenandoah Valley, the 9th Connecticut played a prominent part in the Federal victory at Odar Creek, snatched by Phil Sheridan from apparently certain defeat. The regiment was the first to plant its colors on the captured Rebel works, losing only 30 men killed and wounded. The 9th Connecticut carried a distinctive dark blue regimental (lag that combined traditional Irish symbols with the American eagle and flag. The eagle sat atop two shields: the US stars and stripes, and an Irish green shield with a central gold harp, above a riband proclaiming Erin Go Bragh ("Ireland Forever"). The other side of the flag bore the Connecticut state seal.

Lack of clothing and equipment was a problem for the 9th Connecticut in its early days. The regiment was indifferendy uniformed in shoddy blue clothing when first mustered in, and was without arms until December 1861, when it received Enfield rifles at Ship Island off the Mississippi coast. Lieutenant-Colonel John G. Healy reported that the Irishmen were "wretchedly clad," many of the soldiers being without

Many Irish-American regiments carried both the US national flag and a regimental flag, often with

Many Irish-American regiments carried both the US national flag and a regimental flag, often with

Union Forage Cap With Gold Strap

shoes, coats or blankets during that winter. Officers were better oil, wearing the state's regulation dark blue kepis, frock coats, and pants. Connecticut began issuing US infantry clothing (dark blue forage caps, dark blue frock coats or blouses and sky-blue pants) to its troops in the spring of 1862. The first issue in May, as reported by Cpl John P. Coen, included dress hats with green tassels, green waist sashes, and green stripes on the pants.

Colonel (kahili was apparently somewhat lax in his record-keeping. On returning home at the end of the war, he discovered to his amazement that he had been dishonorably discharged for "disobedience of orders and neglect of duty," for failing to prepare proper muster-out rolls and records for the 9th Connecticut. The men had simply gone home, and Cahill had apparendv provided no paperwork for them to sign. Fortunately for the popular colonel, public support caused the War Department to rescind the dishonorable discharge.

taken early In 1862. They <

regiment number In the center,

. The officer in the center narrow sky-blue stripe, while his

Volunteer Infantry, 1903)

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