Question of the Week: 28 September

Do you have a favorite Civil War ethnic group? Germans? Irish? Norwegians?

15 Responses to Question of the Week: 28 September

  1. I’m for the Germans. Despised in the East as ‘Flying Dutchmen,’ in the West they made notable contributions to Federal success. The regiments of St. Louis home guard who fought with Sigel and Osterhaus did much to keep that state in the Union. Such regiments as the 9th Ohio and 6th Kentucky (from Cincinnati and Louisville) distinguished themselves in the great battle of the West. Even the maligned Eleventh Corps made considerable contributions to the Atlanta, Savannah and Carolinas campaigns, once converged into the Twentieth Corps. Topic I’m still thinking on…”Why were German organizations much more successful in the West than the East?”

  2. I am for the Germans. I think their contribution to the war definitely helped the Union war effort. It doesn’t help that one of my relatives who served in the war was a German. The other was Norwegian. An ethnic group I am curious about is the handful of Chinese who fought in the Civil War.

  3. I am partial to Italians. Also Brazilians. My family migrated to Brazil from Italy during the Wars of Italian Independence and settled in San Paulo in the 1860’s.

  4. When I was re-enacting, it seemed everyone was Irish. My family’s antecedents include lines from all of the British Isles, including plenty of Irish, and so I certainly embraced that ethnicity at the time.

    But of late, I find the Germans fascinating. As I have come to realize what a profound effect these German communities had on Chicago – my home – and so many other great midwestern cities, I have become interested in their participation in the American experiment. I’ve also become interested in the extent of abolitionism in the Union armies, especially early in the war, say 1862, and the Germans were very much abolitionists.

  5. BTW, off the top of my head, these are the groups that I know of who raised at least one ethnic regiment for the Union:


    those who raised companies:
    Jews (mostly German, but ethnically distinct, I think)

    Plenty of Englishmen and Canadians fought in the ranks, but I don’t know of any specific regiment or company raised as an English or Canadian unit.

    I am sure there are more, including those mentioned above – Brazilians, Chinese, etc.

  6. First, let me say I never intended to denigrate any ethnic group or individuals that participated in the Civil War. Regarding abolition, as the Germans were more supportive of it, the Irish were more against it. A lot of that was based on their economic conditions. The German communities were more prosperous and freeing slaves would not have the financial impact as it would have on the much poorer Irish in the North. The Irish performed the low level jobs that the freed slaves would more likely take. A great book on the subject is MELTING POT SOLDIERS by William Burton.

  7. I recently discovered the Californios who went east and joined other units. I was not aware of these Latino/American volunteers from the west coast until just a few weeks ago. If I remember correctly, one of the companies of the 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry came from California. Definitely something to explore with further research!

  8. I always post the blog to my Facebook page, where it has often run afoul of friend & fellow APU-AMU student Mr. Bucky Lawson. He didn’t respond here, but he did respond, so I am passing it along—SOUTHERNERS! (roflmao)

Please leave a comment and join the discussion!