The Civil War's First Regiment: Indiana's Bloody Ninth

Although the honor of being the first enlistee in the Civil War was claimed by C. F. Rand of New York, many Midwesterners believe that Indiana's Company D of the Ninth Infantry was the first company. Major William M. De Hart volunteered within an hour of the news of Fort Sumter's fall on April 12 and began recruiting in Logansport on Saturday night, April 13, 1861. Official records show the regiment mustered in on April 19, making it the first regiment in the terrible war to come. However, Major De Hart's own enlistment was not officially recognized by the War Department due to the fact that his work was prior to the call for volunteers made by Governor Morton of Indiana, along with its general irregularity.
One hundred twenty-five volunteers were taken by train to Indianapolis, and eighty-five men were finally selected from those. After the remaining men were sent home to Logansport, the eighty-five men of the Ninth began their rigorous training. Although toughened by farm work over the years, they were unaccustomed to the discipline that would be required of soldiers. Drilling, marching, and weapons practice filled their days. Soldiers in those early days of the Civil War looked on their service as a time of excitement and camaraderie. They wanted to be fitted with uniforms and issued their weapons, not spend time in dreary camp routine. Over time, however, they learned to be real soldiers, ready to defend their homeland.
On May 29, 1861, the Ninth marched flawlessly to the train station in Indianapolis. They were going to war. There must have been lumps in those young men's throats as they steamed through the darkness toward Virginia and their first battle at Philippi. There they were easily victorious over the surprised Confederates, leading to the battle's being dubbed the "Philippi Races."
They mustered out on August 2, 1861, during the optimistic belief that the war wouldn't last more than three months. However, after the debacle at First Bull Run (Manassas) in July, this belief was being replaced with a grim determination that the war would be long, hard, and bloody.
The three-month enlistees of the Ninth returned on July 31, 1861, to a heroes' welcome in Logansport, Indiana, including a vast breakfast provided by the grateful citizens of that small city. The men of Company D presented their leader, Captain Thomas Dunn with a handsome sword as a testimonial of their regard for him.
The Ninth Indiana Infantry reformed on September 5 and was thereafter in many costly battles, earning them the nickname of "The Bloody Ninth." The Ninth fought at the battles of Shiloh, Stone's River, Chickamauga, Chattanooga, Atlanta, and Nashville, and many others.
One of the more well-known members of the Ninth Indiana was Ambrose Bierce, later famous for his short story "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge." Bierce and the Ninth fought at the Battle of Shiloh, in the Peach Orchard where pink petals fell on the bodies of the fallen.
353 men of the Ninth Indiana were lost to wounds or disease during the four years of service. More men died of disease than of battle wounds. Many soldiers were farm boys who had never been twenty miles from their homes before enlisting. Now, they were crowded together in unsanitary camps. Of the 353 total, 222 died from diseases such as measles, typhoid fever, dysentery, etc. The boys of the "Bloody Ninth" finally went home to their grateful state on September 28, 1865.
Midwesterners believe that the Ninth Indiana's Company D was the first company to enlist in the Civil War. Aptly known as "The Bloody Ninth," the regiment's record showed it to have fought in many of the worst battles of the great war.

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