This book is first and foremost a history of northern German Americans during and after the battle of Chancellorsville. Thus, it is a work of both ethnic and Civil War history, but it is more firmly rooted in the latter. Its goal is to create a greater understanding of the United States' largest ethnic group during the Civil War by carefully examining the event that proved most pivotal to it. The book analyzes how well the German regiments in the battle actually performed by reconstructing their actions through the eyes of those who fought. It determines the extent of the Anglo–American criticism that followed the battle, and ascertains if it was justified. Most importantly, the book documents the German–American reactions to that criticism and how it affected the Germans' thinking and behavior later in the war, and even in the postwar period. Embedded in that analysis is the larger question of whether or not the Civil War helped to assimilate the German-born immigrants who lived and fought through it.
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