Welcome to the website featuring one of the Civil War's most interesting and unusual regiments, the Ninetieth Illinois Volunteers, an Irish-Catholic unit in which 7 out of 10 of the officers and men were born in Ireland.
Father Denis Dunne, Vicar General of the Chicago diocese, formed the regiment in the fall of 1862 from companies recruited within Chicago and at Galena, Rockford, Joliet, Ottawa and elsewhere across Northern Illinois. James B. Swan tells their story in his Chicago's Irish Legion: the 90th Illinois Volunteers in the Civil War.
The regiment marched 2600 miles, through 7 Confederate states and participated in the capture of 3 Confederate state capitals. Known as the Irish Legion (or as the "90th Ireland" to one of the regiment's brigade commanders), the Legion exhibited an Irish sense of humor but also the willingness to do hard duty, including hard fighting.
Under General W.T. Sherman, the Irish Legion participated in the siege of Jackson, MS and the siege of Atlanta. The Legion fought as skirmishers at Resaca and Jonesboro and in the line of battle at the north end of Missionary Ridge, at Dallas, at the Battle of Atlanta and at at Ezra Church. The Ninetieth had a central role in the capture of Fort McAllister at the end of Sherman's march to the sea. Wading flooded swamps in South Carolina, watching Columbia burn, and marching in the Grand Review in Washington, D.C. completed the regiment''s service. Some 220 of the men and officers returned to Chicago on June 9, 1865 to a grand welcome from the local Irish community.