Col. Thomas Cass, of Massachusetts' "Irish 9th"

John Hartwell

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#1
This intimidating gentleman is identified by LoC as Col. Thomas Cass, commander of the 9th Massachusetts Volunteer Militia, the first "Irish Regiment" to take the field for the Union.
cassmaybe.jpg

Title: [Col. Thomas Cass, 9th Mass. Infantry, full-length portrait, standing, facing left, in uniform]
Date Created/Published: [photographed between 1861 and 1865, printed later]
Civil War Photograph Collection (Library of Congress). No. 8774.

The 9th was raised in Boston during early May 1861, and mustered on June 11th, for 3 years service. After some months in the defenses of Washington (Ft. Cass in Alexandria was named for the 9th's commander), the regiment took part in McClellan's Peninsula Campaign as part of the 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 5th Corps. After being engaged at Yorktown and Hanover Court House,

"it returned to its camp at Gaines Mills in time for the severe battle of the following day. It was at first posted on the creek near the mill, under especial orders to hold the enemy in check and prevent their crossing at that point. This was done, but a crossing being effected higher up stream the position was flanked and the regiment was compelled to fall back. Again it made a heroic stand and although forced back somewhat fought valiantly until relieved by other troops. The stubborn nature of its resistance is sufficiently attested by its losses, which during the series of engagements reached 29 killed, 152 wounded and 16 missing. Among the killed were eight officers, including the regiment’s commander. Colonel Cass, who received wounds from which he died on the 12th of July." [Bowen, Massachusetts in the Rebellion]​

In 1894, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts voted to erect a monument in honor of Col. Cass, to be placed at a conspicuous spot in the Boston Public Garden. The monument, created by sculptor Richard Brooks was dedicated in September, 1899.
Thomas_Cass_statue_(Boston_Public_Garden) - Edited (3).jpg
Thomas_Cass_statue_(Boston_Public_Garden) - Edited (2).jpg
Which brings up the question as to whether the LoC photograph is, in fact, Col. Cass.

Sculptor Brooks, did have to put some effort into making Cass' portrait, and admitted that:

"the statue if to a certain extent a problematic likeness, for the artist had only a daguerreotype and a crayon portrait enlarged from it to go by. To be sure, [he] got all the information he could from those who knew Cass, but the information was much dimmed by time." [Irish World, (NY), 18 March 1899]​

This is the "crayon portrait" based on the apparently now lost daguerreotype:
cass3.jpg


It does not seem likely that "those who knew Cass", would have overlooked such magnificent facial hair! Perhaps he had the beard in 1861, but removed it before his death? We can only wonder.
 
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John Hartwell

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#4
Lovely post but apologetically I would argue that by every possible measurement the 69th New York State Militia are the 1st Irish Regiment in Union service (Raised in April not May. Mustered in to service in May not June. First Battle July 1861 not 1862)
I had thought the 69th NY was organized later. But, you are correct, it preceded the Mass. 9th by some weeks as the first Irish regiment. The 69th was already established in the pre-war militia.

Massachusetts Militia's seven Irish companies had been dismissed in 1855, on order of the Knownothing governor Gardner. Some of them, however refused to disband, but continued as "Independent Companies", legally unconnected with the state militia, and supplying their own arms and uniforms. In January and February 1861, all these Irish companies offered their services to then-governor Andrew, and he immediately accepted. Four of those companies became the foundation of the 9th Regiment. The other six companies were recruited early in May from Irish communities across the state.
9MVI - Edited.jpg
9th Massachusetts Volunteer Militia:

Colonel, Thomas Cass
Lieutenant colonel, Cromwell G. Rowell
Major, Robert Peard

Company A, Columbian Volunteers (Boston)
Company B, Otis Guard (Boston)
Company C, Douglas Guard (Boston)
Company D, Meagher Guard (Boston)
Company E, Cass Light Guard (Boston)
Company F, Fitzgerald Guards (Salem)
Company G. Wolfe Tone Guards (Boston)
Company H, Davis Guards (Milford)
Company I, McClellan Rifles (Boston)
Company K, Irish Guards (Stoughton)
 

Hussar Yeomanry

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#5
I had thought the 69th NY was organized later. But, you are correct, it preceded the Mass. 9th by some weeks as the first Irish regiment. The 69th was already established in the pre-war militia.

Massachusetts Militia's seven Irish companies had been dismissed in 1855, on order of the Knownothing governor Gardner. Some of them, however refused to disband, but continued as "Independent Companies", legally unconnected with the state militia, and supplying their own arms and uniforms. In January and February 1861, all these Irish companies offered their services to then-governor Andrew, and he immediately accepted. Four of those companies became the foundation of the 9th Regiment. The other six companies were recruited early in May from Irish communities across the state.
9th Massachusetts Volunteer Militia:

Colonel, Thomas Cass
Lieutenant colonel, Cromwell G. Rowell
Major, Robert Peard

Company A, Columbian Volunteers (Boston)
Company B, Otis Guard (Boston)
Company C, Douglas Guard (Boston)
Company D, Meagher Guard (Boston)
Company E, Cass Light Guard (Boston)
Company F, Fitzgerald Guards (Salem)
Company G. Wolfe Tone Guards (Boston)
Company H, Davis Guards (Milford)
Company I, McClellan Rifles (Boston)
Company K, Irish Guards (Stoughton)
No problem. I've been looking in to the formation of the 69th NYSM for St Patricks Day and the... lets be polite... mirk (rather than sewer) that was the New York City Militia system. I will also state that compared to say Lower Manhattan's 2nd NYSM who I have been examining since then the 69th have a peaceful and uneventful mobilisation...
 

JPK Huson 1863

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#10
This is the 9th Mass., during Mass? It's listed as " Camp Cass " ( near DC ), 1861- but was it 1861 if named ' Camp Cass '? If he was killed in 1862, would they have named a camp for him ? Or is he in this photo, different beard? Those deep set eyes and forbidding stare could belong to several men here.

cass camp cass 9th mass.jpg
 



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