The American Civil War.

Essay by shadow_vvmafHigh School, 11th gradeF, December 2005

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For minorities, as for other Americans, the Civil War was an opportunity to prove their valor and loyalty. Among the first mustered into the Union Army were a De Kalb regiment of German American clerks, the Garibakdi Guards made up of Italian Americans, a "Polish Legion," and hundreds of Irish American youths form Boston and New York. But in Ohio and Washington, D.C., African American volunteers were turned away from recruiting stations and told, "This is a white man's war." Some citizens questioned the loyalty of immigrants who lived in crowded city tenements until an Italian American from Brooklyn turned that around. In the New York Senate, Democrat Francis Spinola had been a vigorous foe of Republican policies and Lincoln. But now he swore his loyalty with stirring words, "This is my flag, which I will follow and defend." This speech gave great assurance that the masses in the great cities were devoted to the Union and ready to enlist for its defense.

More than 400,000 European immigrants fought for the Union, including more than 170,00 Germans and more than 150,00 Irish. Many saw their services as a proud sacrifice. The first officer to die for the Union was Captain Constatin Blandowski, one of many immigrants who earlier had fought for freedom in Europe and then joined Lincoln's army. Born in Upper Silesia and trained at Dresden, Germany, he was a veteran of democratic struggles - a Polish revolt at Krakow, the Polish Legion's battles against Austria, and the Hungarian fight for independence. Some nationalities contributed more than their share of Union soldiers. Some immigrants earned the Congressional Medal of Honor. Italian American officer Louis di Cesnola, was the Colonel of the 4th Cavalry Regiment. At Aldie, Virginia, in 1863, he earned the Medal of Honor and was appointed...