Recruiting activity for the Union army stepped up a notch with Lincoln's call for 300,000 nine months' troops on August 4th, 1862, particularly under the powerful negative incentive of a draft if quotas were not met. In Boston, the Irish Society made a special pitch to the large, and heavily Democratic Irish immigrant population, initially intending to raise two regiments, but, recognizing the impracticality of raising so large a force, settling on one. Michael Doherty (Chairman), John Leahy, and Patrick Donahoe (Treasurer) coordinated the drive for this all-Irish nine months' regiment, intending to organize it as the 47th Massachusetts Regiment under the command of "Colonel" Frank H. Ward. In their appeals, they made frequent reference to the popular heroes, Michael Corcoran and Thomas Francis Meagher, and they convinced Archbishop Hughes to come out in support of their effort. As nine months' regiments began to form in Boston and the newspapers clamored for the community to work in concert to avoid a draft, the Irish Society sponsored a Grand Rally at Faneuil Hall at 8 o' clock in the evening on September 8th (or 9th, according to the Boston Daily Evening Transcript) to benefit "the only regiment being organized by the Irish Societies of Boston & Vicinity."
The rally began with the introduction of Mayor Wightman by Patrick Donahoe. In a brief presentation, Wightman attempted to raise the patriotic fervor of the audience by noting that Corcoran was raising not a regiment nor brigade, but an entire legion of New York Irishmen. The next speaker, the great orator Edward Everett, gave a rousing speech, playing to the emotions of his audience and their self-image as among the downtrodden and disrespected members of society, and again making special reference to the patriotic examples of Corcoran and Meagher. Capt John Leahy followed with "patriotic resolutions" and the other speakers, Col. A. O. Brewster, Col. E. G. Parker, Col. Ward, Dennis W. O' Brien, and Charles F. Donnelly were said to have given "eloquent speeches" that were enthusiastically greeted. A "band of music" topped off the evening that ended with rousing cheers for Lincoln, McClellan, and the flag.
Despite the apparent success of this gala, recruitment for the Irish regiment was beset with problems and never met expectations. Among other troubles, a man named James Hayes was apparently representing himself as an agent of the Irish Societies and collecting money that he said was to support the regiment, forcing Doherty and Donahoe to place an advertisement in the newspaper disavowing any connection with the man. On September 11th, the regiment was called into camp, intended, by this point to become the 49th Massachusetts Regiment. With the need for regiments to join Bank's expedition immediately, and not having filled out their rolls quickly enough, the enlistees appear to have been brought into the 48th Massachusetts as Companies G, H, I, and K (this inference may be in error, however, since the capsule history of the 48th Regiment in Massachusetts Men in the Civil War suggests that these companies were raised by John O' Brien). Interestingly, Col. Ward does not appear in Massachusetts Men in the Civil War, suggesting that he never received his colonel's commission, nor do any of the other men listed in association with the 1st regiment of Irish nine-month volunteers, except Charles F. Donnelly, who became a Lieutenant in Co. K of the 48th Massachusetts.