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The Missing 49th Massachusetts (Irish) Regiment in the Civil War

Union army recruiting escalated when Lincoln called for 300,000 troops in August 1862. In Boston, the Irish Society made a special pitch to the large, heavily Democratic Irish immigrant population. Drive coordinators planned to organize an all-Irish 47th Massachusetts Regiment under the command of "Colonel" Frank H. Ward. As other regiments began to form in Boston, and newspapers clamored for the community to work together to avoid a draft, the Irish Society sponsored a Grand Rally at Faneuil Hall to benefit "the only regiment being organized by the Irish Societies of Boston & Vicinity." Thomas Murphy Jerome Johnston, Irish and a personal acquaintance of Lincoln, was one of the coordinators. A draft of one of Johnston's recruiting flyers is shown below.

Despite a rousing speech by Edward Everett and the rally's apparent success, recruitment for the Irish regiment never met expectations. On September 11th, when the regiment was called into camp, there were insufficient numbers and the enlistees were placed into the 48th Massachusetts Regiment. In fact, Col. Ward does not appear in Massachusetts Men in the Civil War, suggesting that he never received his colonel's commission, nor do any of the other enlistees except for one individual who became a Lieutenant in Co. K of the 48th Massachusetts.

Citation: William L. Clements Libraby, University of Michigan, Edward Everett Manuscript: Speech at Meeting in Faneuil Hall September 8, 1862. Online http://www.clements.unmich.edu/.


Owner/SourceDavid V. Freeman
DateAbout 1862
Linked toThomas Murphy Jerome JOHNSTON

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