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ID Disc to a Massachusetts Man

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The 2nd of yesterday’s excellent mail call.

A beautiful Civil War ID disc to Private John Breen of the 9th Massachusetts Infantry, the famous fighting 9th. Recently graduated from college in Boston so I thought I’d get a bit of local history as a souvenir!

The fighting 9th Massachusetts is a famous regiment. One of Fox’s 300 Fighting Regiments the 9th was composed almost entirely of Irish immigrants or 1st generation Irish Americans. This Irish connection is reflected in the regiments battle flag which blends American and Irish symbolism (pictured). The 9th was present at nearly all of the Army of the Potomac’s major engagements, losing 15 officers and 194 men in combat and 69 of disease. Alongside hundreds of wounded.

John Breen enlisted into the 9th in August of 1862, in Boston at the age of 30. Breen would have been replacing the massive casualties the 9th suffered during the Peninsula Campaign, most notably Gaines Mill. Breen’s first major action was at Fredericksburg where, on December 13th 1862 he had the misfortune to be captured by the Rebs. Fortunately for Breen he was soon paroled and was formally exchanged and returned to his regiment by June of 1863. Breen was present with his regiment at Gettysburg where the 9th helped hold Big Round Top against Hood’s forces on the 2nd and 3rd days.

The 9th was lightly engaged in the fall and winter campaigns of the AotP. However Breen’s worst fighting was ahead of him, in the Overland Campaign. The 9th suffered heavily in the Wilderness and Spotsylvania, losing 56 men killed and over 200 wounded. It was at the climatic engagement of the campaign that Breen’s luck would run out. On June 3 1864 during the Battle of Cold Harbor Breen was severely wounded, requiring his leg to be amputated. After a stint in military hospitals in DC Breen was discharged for disability after two years of honorable active service. As of yet I’ve been unable to turn up anything on Breen’s post war life.

Interestingly there are two John Breen's in Co. E of the 9th Mass. However, the second "Breen" was actually a Brenn whose name was erroneously recorded. As ID Discs were private purchases I imagine Private Brenn would want a tag that got his name right, therefore I feel fairly confident attributing this tag to Private Breen, not Private Brenn.



Breen, John (30) (2).jpg

Breen, John (30) (1).jpg

Breen, John (30).jpg


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58 minutes ago, USCapturephotos said:

Beautiful disc! I’ve always liked the “Against Rebellion” style.



Thank ya! I love the design as well, very striking. Great regiment too

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