Prologue Magazine

Appendix B: Colonel Cahill's Ninth Connecticut: One Regiment's Records

Summer 1995, Vol. 27, No. 2 | "The Little Regiment: Civil War Units and Commands"

By Michael P. Musick


Military recordkeeping was a serious business, as Col. Thomas W. Cahill of the Ninth Connecticut Volunteer Infantry learned to his chagrin.  When Cahill, newly returned home to Connecticut, first saw Special Order No. 397 of the Adjutant General's Office, dated November 14, 1864, he was stunned.  Paragraph 17 announced that he and Capt. William Wright of his regiment had been dishonorably discharged "for disobedience of orders and neglect of duty [italics in original], in failing to prepare the proper rolls and records of their command . . . thus working prejudice to the interest of the enlisted men under their charge."  This indictment came despite a good record that included the fights at Baton Rouge and third Winchester and the high regard of the mostly Irish soldiers of the Ninth.

It developed that when Capt. W. R. Pease of the regular army had met with the colonel to muster out him and his men, the regular had been told that there were no muster-out rolls made up, no blank forms on hand, and no officers or men present, they having been sent home.  It seemed to the captain that no effort had been made at all, and the Adjutant General's Office in Washington decided it needed to make an example of such derelictions.  Fortunately for Colonel Cahill and Captain Wright, a vigorous protest eventually brought about a revocation of the order, and they were allowed to leave the service without discredit.

In conjunction with the muster-out process, an inventory of records was made that gives a good picture of the kinds of paperwork at a unit headquarters (RG 94, entry 496, file S-2681 V.S. 1864).

Inventory of Records of Ninth Regiment Conn. Vol. Infantry

No.   Class
1 Volume   General Orders
1 Volume   General Order (1862)
1 Volume   Descriptive Book
2 Volumes   Consolidated Morning Report
4 Volumes   Letter Book
2 Volumes   Regimental Order Book
2 Volumes   Post Guard Reports
1 Volume   Index of Letters
2 Volumes   Special Orders
1 Volume   Register of Contrabands
1 Volume   Statement of Articles sent by Ladies Sewing Society
3 Volumes   Record of Communications
2 Volumes   Casey's Tactics (Vols. II and III)
1   Bill Book
1 Package   Bounty Order Blanks
30 Copies   Outpost and Patrol Duty
4 Copies   Compendium of General Orders
1 Copy   Regulation for Recruiting Service
261   Reports and Returns
66   Muster Rolls
67   Descriptive Lists
75   Discharges
183   Enlistment Papers
45   Inventories of Effects, Final Statement, and Certificates of Disability
1 Package   Miscellaneous Papers
9 Files   Printed Orders
1 Package   Unfiled Printed Orders
1   Map Seat of War

Various of the items listed are actually published works and thus not part of the unit records at the National Archives.  These include "Casey's Tactics" and "Compendium of General Orders."  Other volumes were in their original, slim format.  Later they were bound together by the Record and Pension Office of the War Department.  Today the bound records of the Ninth Connecticut Infantry in the National Archives consist of five volumes, one for morning reports of Companies A, B, C, D, H, I, and K; one for the regimental "order, letter and record book"; one for the regimental descriptive book; one for descriptive books of Companies A, C, G, H, I and K; and a final one for the order books of Companies H, I, and K.  This is a representative selection for a Federal volunteer unit.

The unbound records of the Ninth Connecticut now in the National Archives, in addition to the muster rolls of the field and staff and the companies, are likewise fairly typical.  Many have been carded, such as the regimental monthly returns, company returns, muster-in rolls of detachments, individual muster-out rolls, detachment muster rolls, muster rolls of the regimental hospital, lists of stragglers, and descriptive lists of deserters.  There are also morning reports, annual returns of casualties, and quarterly returns of deceased soldiers.

The miscellaneous regimental papers, properly tied together by red tape, are smaller in size than the other unbound records.  For Colonel Cahill's outfit, they are numbered from 1 to 126, with this breakdown of subjects: 1 - 15 rank; 16 - 47, misconduct; 48 - 73 absence; 74 - 114, record of events, with subcategories of engagements (74 - 76), movements (77 - 102), and organization (103 - 114); 115 - 122, final records; and 123 - 126 miscellaneous, under which are bounty (123 - 124), gallantry (125), and pay for nonveterans (126).  Some units have more, others less, but these can be seen as average in scope and content.


The Little Regiment, Part 1

The Little Regiment, Part 2

Articles published in Prologue do not necessarily represent the views of NARA or of any other agency of the United States Government.