Question of the Week: Which foreigner do you think was most impactful in the American Civil War?

Today is the 190th anniversary of the death of Gilbert du Motier, better known to Americans as the Marquis de Lafayette, of American Revolutionary War fame. Which foreigner do you think was most impactful in the American Civil War?

9 Responses to Question of the Week: Which foreigner do you think was most impactful in the American Civil War?

  1. The Prince-Consort Albert: his rewriting of the British Government’s ultimatum (one of his last official acts before his death), transforming it into something Lincoln could compromise with, likely kept the UK and its Empire out of the war…

  2. William Howard Russell. British war correspondent, who happened to be in the United States when war erupted at Fort Sumter, Russell was courted by both sides; and both the CSA and the USA attempted to embed spies in the entourage of the Times of London journalist as he toured the North, and then the South. And both sides were incensed when reports “from Russell” appeared in local papers mere days after access was granted to potentially sensitive information.
    Most important, William Howard Russell was believed by Government officials, North and South, to possess powers of persuasion “to get the English on THEIR side,” and possibly determine the outcome of the War of the Rebellion. “My Diary, North and South” was first published 1863 and reads like the travel journal it is; its unvarnished insights to significant Civil War figures and military preparedness are not available anywhere else.

  3. John Ericsson, a Swede, who was not a soldier but the inventor/designer of the USS Monitor.

  4. It’s funny, I read the question before I left house and started my drive to DC this morning. Thought about the question and was thinking who is more influential, Prince Albert or Russell. Stopped the car in the parking lot, took one last look, ok obsessive fix, before I go in and see that both made the list.
    I think it’s a tie. Albert’s influence with Victoria strengthened her against proponents supporting the Confederacy. Russell’s Articles and diary were followed/ read closely by the general public and members of Parliament both were pro-union and didn’t support Britain’s involvement in the conflict. Their individual efforts combined to keep Britain neutral.

  5. Richard Lyons, 1st Earl Lyons (Lord Lyons), the British Ambassador to the U.S., whose deft diplomacy helped resolve the Trent Affair and possibly avoid war with Great Britain and recognition of the CSA.

  6. Would this question apply to immigrants who eventually became American citizens? If it does, or can be, the person who comes to mind for me is Franz Sigel. I’m not an expert on him, and have never read a dedicated biography about him. I do not know his citizensip status when the War started, though I think, THINK, he had satisfied the required citizenship criteria by then. But he helped recruit many immigrants into the Union forces, especially those from Germany. Lincoln didnt hesitate to utilize him in that capacity. He would lead forces that participated in several important battles and campaigns. His military acumen and achievements and results can be judged at another time. So IF Sigel qualifies for this question, he’s my guy!

    And if the question doesn’t apply, then I’ve got nothing! LOL..

  7. Franz Sigel, he and Schurz helped turn the Germans community to the Republican party, but the former helped secure St Louis and therefore riverine Missouri for the Union.

Please leave a comment and join the discussion!