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Chancellorsville and the GermansNativism, Ethnicity, and Civil War Memory$

Christian B. Keller

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780823226504

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: March 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fso/9780823226504.001.0001

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Chancellorsville and the Civil War in German American Memory

Chancellorsville and the Civil War in German American Memory

(p.146) 7 Chancellorsville and the Civil War in German American Memory
Chancellorsville and the Germans

Christian B. Keller

Fordham University Press

Abstract and Keywords

Two important issues occupied the thoughts of German Americans in the postwar decades, especially those who had lived through the Civil War: the memory of the war and Americanization. For the veterans of the Eleventh Corps, their comrades from the western armies, and German American intellectuals, these two themes were inextricably related. Try as they might, it proved impossible to detach the memory of the war from the idea of assimilation. The specter of Chancellorsville haunted their celebrations of the war. What they had endured at the hands of nativism made them naturally reluctant to jump into the melting pot. In the postwar period the German-born wanted all other Americans to respect what they had done for the country and view them as equal citizens, but most did not want to relinquish their Germanness. Their ethnic consciousness remained high, and because of that they would become more American only on their own terms and in their own good time.

Keywords:   German Americans, Americanization, Eleventh Corps, assimilation, Chancellorsville, Civil War, nativism, ethnic consciousness

In the November 1883 issue of the Deutsche Pionier, a Cincinnati-based historical, news, and literary journal for German Americans, an article appeared entitled, “The Assimilation of the Germans.” Its main theme questioned the need for Germans to quickly Americanize. About half-way through, the author, “J. G.,” included these thoughts:

We fought in the war of the rebellion on your side; our part of the population sent a full delegation to the ranks of the Union army, and we fought bravely together. We mourn together and take pride together when we honor the dead, who fell in defense of us both, and our combined means have erected soldiers homes for the crippled heroes of the war….

But must we all go the same way? Just as the individual has certain personal characteristics that make him unique, so it goes with peoples and nations. So it is with the Anglo Americans and so it is with the Germans. Must everyone live exactly like everyone else, and is the existence of our nation threatened when we do not spend our days in the same manner? Must we citizens of German background go to “Camp Meetings,” “Women's Crusades,” “Prize Boxing Matches,” “Sit-Down [Temperance] Tourneys,” “Minstrel Shows,” or listen to the religious-political babble of a preacher in the joyless and dusty halls of a Presbyterian church?

You do not need to participate in our excursions, picnics, and theatre shows on Sundays. You do not need to drink our beer and our wine, or to sing our songs. It is not necessary that you learn the beautiful German language, so that we can understand each other. But do not force men, who are proud of their American citizenship and their sincerity and honesty, to become hypocrites.1

In this small article, the author struck at two important issues that occupied the thoughts of German Americans in the postwar decades, especially those who had lived through the Civil War. Indeed, he intertwined them. The first was the memory of the war. The second was Americanization.

For the veterans of the Eleventh Corps, their comrades from the western armies, and German American intellectuals, these two themes were inextricably (p.147) related. Try as they might, it proved impossible to extract the memory of the war from the idea of assimilation. At monument dedications, and in histories, newspapers, literary journals, and personal correspondence, German Americans often depicted their experiences in the war with an eye towards how they had proven their national loyalty. The blood of those who fell in the war and the deeds of their arms proved their Americanism, they argued. But at the same time they did not view the war itself as an assimilative force. Rather, it had served to heighten their ethnic consciousness, either by making them proud of their ethnic contributions to victory or retrenching their ethnicity in self-defense against nativism. The specter of Chancellorsville haunted their celebrations of the war, and even among veterans who had never served in the East, they believed they still had to prove their value as soldiers and citizens. Their personal sacrifice for the Union during the Civil War made unassailable their patent as American citizens, but it did not Americanize them. What they had endured at the hands of nativism made them naturally reluctant to jump into the melting pot. Events such as the German unification in 1871 and the increasing numbers of immigrants from eastern and southern Europe also affected their thinking. In the postwar period the German-born wanted all other Americans to respect what they had done for the country and view them as equal citizens, but most did not want to relinquish their Germanness. Their ethnic consciousness remained high, and because of that they would become more American only on their own terms and in their own good time.

The study of Civil War memory has recently become a popular topic among historians, but very few have examined the memory of immigrant soldiers and civilians. Of that limited number, even fewer have contributed to our understanding of the German American veteran. Stephen Engle examines Franz Sigel's postwar career in some detail, and indicates the reverence German Americans had for their wartime leader in later years, but does not venture much beyond his biographical subject. David Blight and Stuart McConnell briefly reference scattered German veterans' celebrations and organizations in the context of their overall studies of Civil War memory, but spend little time developing the idea of a separate ethnic (let alone German) interpretation of the war (which was certainly not the purpose of their studies). Margaret Creighton, in her analysis of German Americans, women, and blacks during the Gettysburg campaign, devotes considerably more space to the idea of immigrant memory, correctly noting that veterans of the Eleventh Corps returned to Gettysburg in the postwar decades to dedicate their monuments, that Carl Schurz continued to rankle under the wartime criticisms of his conduct at Chancellorsville, and that Augustus Hamlin and Wilhelm Kaufmann did much (p.148) to counter the popular memory of Germans in the war in their histories. But she focuses mainly on how Anglo Americans perceived the Germans and how that perception changed over time—or not—rather than analyzing the complexities of German American memory itself. And, like Martin Oefele, who in his study of German-born officers in the U.S.C.T. also traces the impact of Kaufmann and tackles the problem of postwar German American “myth-making,” Creighton believes the war pretty well assimilated the German veterans and their families. Oefele does an excellent job chronicling the creation of the “Myth of 1860”—the belief among Germans that they were primarily responsible for Lincoln's nomination and election—and accurately notes that “the majority of German Americans developed a selective public memory that fitted both the American understanding of a war to save the Union and their own needs for ethnic distinction.” But his evidence for this claim is unfortunately scant, and in the end, he, too, subscribes to the general assimilation model.2

Although they do not devote much ink to postwar memory, Wolfgang Helbich and Walter Kamphoefner, in their recent anthology of German American letters from the Civil War era, do question the assumption that the war ultimately Americanized the German veterans who survived it. Based on the letters in their book, they argue that “one should fundamentally mistrust” this assertion. Stephen Engle also admits that many German Americans “became more sensitive about their ethnicity” after the war. These two viewpoints seem quite reasonable and are supported by the historical record.3

“An Injury Once Done Can but Rarely Be Repaired”

Years after the last accusations of “cowardly Dutchmen” disappeared from the English-language newspapers, the memory of Chancellorsville and its resultant nativism remained strong among German Americans, especially veterans of the battle. In postwar histories written in German, German-language literary and historical journals, private letters, and even in English-language veterans' publications, the sting of prejudice was quite evident even past the turn of the century. Certain Anglo American histories and accounts of the battle enhanced the perception among Germans that nativism still lingered. The ghost of 2 May 1863 would not die and kept reminding Germans that they had a stigma attached to themselves, one that constantly needed countering. In so doing they kept revisiting and strengthening their own ethnic identity. Even after the guns fell silent, the Civil War continued to retard the Americanization of the Germans.

As early as 1864 German Americans began to chronicle their participation in the war. Small biographical articles on leading Teutonic officers and short histories (p.149) of some of the more prominent (especially western) German regiments appeared in the various German-language historical and literary journals. Poems and short stories were written that eulogized fallen German soldiers or recounted their martial deeds, and eventually several German American histories of the war became available that covered all aspects of the conflict but tended to focus on the uniquely German contributions to Union victory. Some of these publications mentioned nothing about nativism or Chancellorsville, but several of them contained strong insinuations about anti-German prejudice, the neglect of German American sacrifices, and the diminution of German American achievements. A few openly criticized or lamented the nativistic aftermath of Chancellorsville, defended German valor in the battle, and attacked Anglo Americans.4

In 1866 Rudolph Lexow, the new editor of the prominent New York–based Deutsch-Amerikanische Monatshefte, wrote an introductory article “In Remembrance” that reflected on the results and meaning of the recently concluded war. His tone was one of somber reminiscence mixed with admiration for the renewed vitality of an America freed from the shackles of slavery and the destruction of war. But at the end of his piece he warned his readers not to forget recent events. “Is it really so long ago?” he rhetorically and cynically asked. “Allow us the admonition also to remember the German men, who offered so much valuable service to the land of their adoption. Is Bohlen forgotten, even though he died a hero's death for the cause of freedom? Has the memory of Blenker been buried with his corpse, although he was the first to save a Union army? Does the name of Schimmelfennig live no more among us, even though it was his now-cold hand that carried the national banner into Charleston? Does one no more remember the deeds of Sigel because greater deeds have since occurred and his were met with ingratitude?” Lexow then proceeded to list several other prominent German-born officers who fought for the North, and asked if they, too were forgotten because the war was over. He answered his own rhetorical question with a touch of sarcasm: “It may have been long, long ago since you served your country, but you are not forgotten.”5

A year later, the first history of the Civil War written by a German American, the radical forty-eighter Ernst Reinhold Schmidt, was published in both the United States and Germany. At first glance, it was a fairly innocuous tome, tracing the history of the conflict in an unbiased and lively narrative. Starting with the campaign of Second Manassas, however, Schmidt began to laud the German regiments and condemn the wartime nativism in lengthy footnotes. At Chancellorsville, Schimmelfennig's and Krzyzanowski's brigades of Schurz's division, along with Buschbeck's brigade of von Steinwehr's division, were the only ones that apparently fought in the Eleventh Corps, and “when the first (p.150) excited reports about the battle flew throughout the land, one was altogether ready to blame the unhappy outcome on the ‘cowardice’ of the Eleventh Corps, and the heretofore humbled nativistic pride found a sinister satisfaction in the fact that that Corps was composed of German troops.” The commanding generals of the army did little to correct the misconceptions, Schmidt argued, and although much about the affair still “remains in the dark,” “at least what the Germans realize” is that the men of the Eleventh Corps “did not besmirch their honor.” Again, after Gettysburg, “the condemnations and infamies of individual military critics and newspaper editors were vented against the Eleventh Corps, and especially against the German regiments,” but the foresight of von Steinwehr in consolidating the defensive position of Cemetery Hill and the hard fighting done by the Eleventh Corps north of town on 1 July secured the Union victory. “This is the honorable truth and befitting monument to the slandered, misunderstood, or forgotten German regiments of the Eleventh Army Corps.” The first history of the Civil War written by a German American, then, defended the German regiments with strong language, passively downgraded the value and roles of Anglo American units, and rebuked the wartime nativism in no uncertain terms. This was not language or argumentation that supported an assimilative vision for America's German citizens.6

Subsequent histories followed in Schmidt's vein. For instance, E. Schlaeger's The Social and Political Situation of the Germans in the United States, publishedin Berlin in 1874, did not attack Americans or nativism, but hyperbolically asserted that “the German regiments distinguished themselves on all battlefields in the most glorious manner, and it is no exaggeration if one claims no other nationality in the Union sent so strong a contingent to the millions of the Army than the Germans.” Martin Luecke's 1892 work, The Civil War of the United States, fairly even-handed for the most part, nonetheless purported that “only a part of the German brigades under Steinwehr and Schurz did anything to resist the onrushing enemy or hold him up” on 2 May 1863. Again, Anglo American efforts went unrecognized on the first day at Chancellorsville.7

The most blatantly pro-German history of the war was unquestionably Wilhelm Kaufmann's The Germans in the American Civil War. Published in Germany in 1911, Kaufmann wrote in a distinctly nationalist style that reflected the ethnocentric hubris of the German empire. Like the earlier chroniclers before him, his work was plagued with filiopietism, exaggerations, and myriad historical errors, but Kaufmann nonetheless provided much valuable data on German Americans in the war that otherwise would have been lost. In great detail, he illustrated the uniquely German “saving of Missouri” for the Union cause in 1861, the early exploits of Franz Sigel and his German regiments in the West, and the misery of Blenker's march over the Virginia mountains. Probably to (p.151) make up for the fact that “slanders and hateful attacks are often made” by Anglo American historians and veterans, Kaufmann overpraised the Germans. It was as if Teutonic numbers, foresight, and generalship alone had kept the Union cause alive in the first two years of the war. Turning his attention to the Chancellorsville campaign, for which he drew extensively from Hamlin, he also spared no invective in denouncing the nativism that resulted from the Federal defeat. Although “the defensive fight Buschbeck and Schurz led … was the finest single deed at Chancellorsville and one of the best in the entire Civil War,” the northern people “sought some balsam to overcome the burning sense of humiliation, and they fell on the extenuation that the cowardly Germans lost the battle for them! The entire Anglo American press, with the notable exception of the Chicago Tribune, eagerly reached for this excuse to cover up the defeat, and the lies which were spread on the conduct of German soldiers were even more disgraceful than the leadership in that battle.” According to Kaufmann, the extent of the calumnies spread about the Germans “by West Pointers” would be “almost comic if [they] had not been preserved through the years,” and he spent considerable ink refuting them in detail and blaming the defeat, not unfairly, on Hooker and Howard. Even Lincoln came under fire for not defending his “just, intimate friend,” Carl Schurz. “There [was] no statement from Lincoln at any later time to soften the humiliation of the Germans or to shift it onto those genuinely guilty.” Kaufmann put the Anglo American leadership on trial in his book, made his judgments, and passed a verdict: guilty of nativism.8

For his part, Carl Schurz never really got over Chancellorsville. In various postwar articles as well as his famous Reminiscences he made a point of carefully describing the actions of his division and of the German troops in general, demonstrating that they had been the victims of circumstance and poor deployment. He also continued to lash out at his superiors, whom he clearly believed responsible for the disaster, obviously stifling what might have been even more vituperative language. Unquestionably, the memory of the slanders he and his command suffered burned brightly in his prose. He admitted that he had fought the prejudice as much as possible during the war, but a tone of indignance—and regret—still pervaded his discussion of the Virginia battle and its aftermath. It was as if he recognized the negative stereotype of the Germans in the war could not be fully eradicated. “Public opinion,” he noted, “is generally swayed by first impressions, and an injury once done can but rarely be repaired.” Schurz became famous as a champion of German acculturation in the decades after the war, but to him becoming American was necessary for his countrymen because the “Anglo-Saxon race,” which included all those descended from British and German stock, needed to consolidate its birthright (p.152) on the American continent. According to one theorist, “Schurz ma[de] his claim to stay in the United States not a privilege but a right, a right accorded him by virtue of his German heritage.” To secure that right, the enemies of “true Americanism,” slavery and nativism, needed to be destroyed. The war had killed slavery, but not nativism. Hence, in a sort of reverse logic, Schurz believed German Americans could only attain their racial inheritance as Germans in the United States if they assimilated and thus silenced the nativists. Was this truly a man who wanted to acculturate for acculturation's sake? Or was he instead “forced” into it? Regardless of his true motives for urging assimilation, Schurz's experiences in the war and at Chancellorsville in particular affected him until he died in 1906. As his biographer put it, “For the rest of his life he sought vindication.”9

Other German officers present at Chancellorsville wrote in the postwar era about their experiences and left the impression that they still rankled over the public image of the German component of the Eleventh Corps. Major T. A. Meysenberg, Howard's adjutant at Chancellorsville, read a paper before a group of Missouri veterans in 1892 that failed to give much credit to the stands made by Schurz's and Steinwehr's commands, but nonetheless clearly absolved the corps of ignominy: “Scattered over a long distance, with the enemy presumably to the east and south, no soldiers in the world could have done much better than the Eleventh corps.” Regarding the allegation that the Germans were responsible for the panic, Meysenberg trotted out the old German defense that claimed the majority of the corps was Anglo American. Then he took a stab at Hooker, adding “the defeat became inevitable after the first of May, when it was apparent that the original, beautifully-conceived movement had been abandoned.” Hooker, interestingly, also still lost sleep over Chancellorsville, claiming in 1872 that the Eleventh Corps, and especially its Germans, “ran like a herd of buffaloes.” Like Schurz, and no doubt partially because of Schurz's post-Chancellorsville agitation against him, Hooker never seemed to get over the battle and held a deep grudge against the Germans that he kept until he died. Most of them returned the favor.10

Hubert Dilger, in his correspondence with Augustus Hamlin in the early 1890s, praised the latter's efforts to bring to light the “truth” about 2 May 1863 in his history. To Hamlin he wrote, “Your work will raise quite a disturbance amongst the ‘Heroes,’” meaning the old-line Army of the Potomac officer clique. He especially disliked Sickles for his prejudicial and deceitful remarks published in the Joint Committee investigations, and believed that the unlucky Eleventh Corps “had been cursed from its organization.” Citing “petit jealousies of the different German cliques combined with Howard's unfitness” as the reasons behind the corps' problems, he believed “the old soldiers owe to you (p.153) [Hamlin] an everlasting debt of gratitude for your fearless and energetic defense of their honor….” But Dilger thought it unfair to exclusively blame Howard for the defeat. Former First Lieutenant Karl Doerflinger of the 26th Wisconsin agreed. “Erring is human,” he wrote in his postwar reminiscences, and “the patriotic, loyal, and courageous commanding officers, whose errors in judgment alone were responsible for the disaster of the Army of the Potomac at Chancellorsville, deserve our compassion.” Yet he reserved only scorn “for those contemptible criminals who conspired in the fabrication of the lies and calumnies heaped upon the Eleventh Corps as a whole and especially its contingent of men and officers of German birth or descent.” These “narrow-minded representatives of prejudiced chauvinism” created the image of the “Flying Dutchmen,” although the Germans' “patriotism, their love of liberty, their military spirit and discipline, their culture, their proportion of enlistment and their fighting quality compared favorably with any other element of our American people.” Doerflinger could hardly have added any more clichés to his list of German attributes, but then proceeded to argue, in true Prussian style, that the strict schooling and upbringing of German children “had taught these German American boys and their ancestors not only knowledge, but obedience to the requirements of duty and the commands of their superiors.” Hence they had made good soldiers, he exclaimed, and any criticism against them was the result of Anglo American jealousy. To hammer home his now badly stretched nationalistic argument, he added, “in contrast I will state that I frequently heard American-born ex-soldiers boast of having disobeyed and insulted their officers in the field, prolonging our war and increasing our losses.” These were not exactly words that radiated Americanization.11

Also strongly pro-German were the editors of the Deutsche Pionier in a two-segment biography of General Adolph von Steinwehr published in 1877. Amounting to a mini-history of German American involvement in the Civil War, the von Steinwehr biography vociferously defended not only the general's actions during the Chancellorsville campaign and beyond, but also attacked Anglo Americans for their prejudicial inclinations both during the war and afterward. The German regiments in Blenker's brigade had supposedly saved the routed Union army from annihilation after First Manassas but then received as a reward for their bravery “the jealousy of the Americans,” which was only satiated by ordering the German division on the “wild goose chase” march over the Virginia mountains. Suffering terribly in that ordeal, the division was prevented from achieving victory at Cross Keys because of Frémont, another Anglo American, who prematurely ordered the retreat. Skipping any real discussion of Second Manassas, the editors proceeded to Chancellorsville. “With a true relish the American reporters and historians of the late war (p.154) pitched into the German division under Schurz. They still grasp after distortions and lies in order to find fault with the hated ‘Dutchmen.’” In order to convince their readers that they told the truth about American feelings, the editors cynically offered an example “of the impartiality (!!!) of the anglo-american reporters.” A reprint of the infamous New York Times account of 5 May 1863 followed. It was obvious “with what shameful lies one has to deal with.” But these clearly did not end with the cessation of hostilities. The publication of early histories of the war, such as Horace Greeley's The American Conflict (1867), compounded the problem. Greeley was a known German hater, the biographers insinuated, and believed “that the Germans were cowards ‘as a matter of course.’” His chronicle not only omitted von Steinwehr's role at Chancellorsville, but also attributed no valor to the German troops in general. Defeat meant that Anglo Americans then in the high command and even today needed to blame someone else to shroud their own shortcomings. The choice was easy: “Yes, yes, when it is recognized that someone's incompetency or errors must be covered up, there one can make an easy and comfortable scapegoat, and the Germans possess the special quality to be the designated scapegoats.”12

A biography of Carl Schurz appeared three decades later that incorporated the same kind of language. Published in the widely read Deutsch-Amerikanische Geschichtsblätter, a historical journal, in celebration of the statesman's death,the article included a lengthy passage on his involvement in the war. Regarding Chancellorsville, Schurz became “the target of fantastic defamations,” and “almost the entire English-american press placed the blame for the defeat on the Germans and their leaders.” Explaining that the German regiments could not fight well because of their poor deployment and the surprising nature of the enemy attack, the author noted that the “cries of ‘dutch cowards’ continued uninterrupted for weeks” and were “supported with groundless accusations in any case.” Yet the Eleventh Corps had still done the best it could in the battle, and “it is unquestionable that it was precisely the brave German commanders who strove the hardest to stave off the catastrophe created by Howard.” Schurz was preeminent in this list, but alongside him the biographer placed von Steinwehr, Schimmelfennig, Buschbeck, von Gilsa, Hecker, and Dilger. Moreover, Schurz's defense of his ethnic comrades against “the piled up infamies wanted for nothing,” and his subsequent battlefield performances made him “a proud model … among his German American countrymen.” Nothing flattering at all was mentioned about American commanders.13

William Vocke, the former officer in the German 24th Illinois Infantry who had demanded redress about prejudicial anti-German comments appearing in the western newspapers in 1863, had toned down his defensive invective only a (p.155) little by 1896, when he delivered a speech to Illinois veterans. The indignance and outrage at the post-Chancellorsville nativism remained strong in him thirty years after the battle ended. Even though his regiment was hundreds of miles away from the Virginia wilderness at the time, Vocke still smarted under the obloquy cast upon his countrymen. Providing the popular name “Schneider” to represent German-America, Vocke said that “the cowardly slander of Schneider's men occasioned by the disaster at Chancellorsville seems to have created at the time a perfect ‘schneiderphobia,’not only in the press of the country, but also in the Army of the Potomac.” He then offered an example of a prejudiced report, citing Brigadier General John C. Robinson of the First Corps, highlighting the biased comments and lampooning them. Vocke turned the tables on the nativists, calling them “cowards” for being so base as to criticize the Germans and then poked fun at their inaccurate recollections and accusations. The investigation of the Committee on the Conduct of the War was little more than a “farce,” and only recently was the truth coming out thanks to the efforts of authors such as Theodore Dodge and Abner Doubleday. But “the prejudice which was created against Schneider's great army on account of the unmerited abuse and the base charge that his men were to blame for the defeat at Chancellorsville is deep-seated and far-reaching.” Unfortunately, anti-German nativism was still not dead, because “we experience it among Grand Army men even at this date.” These men were and are “prompted by blind race-prejudice,” and amounted to nothing more than “the most unpatriotic wretches.”14

“Our Dead Heroes Have Furnished Us the Criterion of the True American”

That sort of prejudice was one reason the German veterans from the eastern ethnic regiments were not scattered throughout “mixed” Grand Army of the Republic posts (GAR), but were instead concentrated in a few entirely ethnic ones. Much like African American veterans of the Union army, who had also experienced extreme prejudice during the war and formed their own posts composed exclusively of former black soldiers, German American veterans throughout the postwar North created all-German posts. Not all German veterans belonged to such organizations, but it appears that those who served in ethnic regiments tended to cluster together just like they did in the war. The John Koltes Post 228 in Philadelphia, for example, was composed almost entirely of German veterans from the 27th, 73rd, 74th, 75th, and 98th Pennsylvania and the 29th New York. Five of those regiments served in the Eleventh Corps and each was present at Chancellorsville. The 75th Pennsylvania had a thriving veterans' organization that was determined to disseminate the story of (p.156) the regiment to the greater public, and had “a reputation of being the best organized regal. Vet. Ass. In the state of Penna.,” according to former Sergeant Hermann Nachtigall, secretary of the association. In a private letter to Augustus Hamlin, he wrote, “the episode of Chancellorsville very frequently forms the topic of conversation among [the men]…. Although numerous essays have since been written about that terrible conflict and disaster … yet the stigma still remains, and very frequently the phrase is heard, ‘I fights mit Sigel and runs mit Howard’ and I am sorry to say that one frequently has to hear slurs thrown even by men who call themselves Comrades—and Comrades, too, of the G.A.R. It seems to me that the government should take measures to set matters right before the whole country.”15

The federal government never did anything to officially exonerate the Germans, but the German veterans themselves made it a matter of public record to exculpate themselves and their comrades in postwar celebrations. Their speeches and memorials given on the occasions of monument unveilings, in particular, demonstrate, just like their private letters, speeches, and articles published in German-language journals, that the nativism of the Civil War was not forgotten and German achievements needed to be trumpeted in order to be remembered. Unfortunately, most of the people listening were not Anglo Americans.

At Orchard Knob, Tennessee, on 14 November 1897, survivors of the 75th Pennsylvania met to dedicate the regimental monument honoring their service in the Chattanooga campaign. Several members of the regimental veterans' association rose to speak, tracing the history of the regiment in both theaters of war, its ethnic composition, and its most shining moments. One of those moments was Gettysburg, according to Lieutenant Albert Steiger, who asserted, “This German regiment, although thrice ordered to withdraw, was the last to retire from the field, and was, in action, still performing yeoman service on the battle line while some of the distinctively American troops were actively engaged in beating a precipitate retreat.” This retreat, he stated, “caused our regiment exceptionable loss; and yet, strange to say, there are those among our English speaking companions who are want to speak in terms of derision and ofttimes find themselves inclined to stigmatize the ‘Dutch’ as lacking in the staying qualities of good soldiers.” What originally caused this prejudicial stereotyping? “Much of this adverse criticism of the conduct of the German soldier, in action, is due to the incidental retirement of the troops comprising the Eleventh army corps, mostly composed of Germans… at Chancellorsville.”16

Steiger then enumerated some of the traditional German defenses of their performance during the battle: unheeded warnings of the flanking movement, overwhelming enemy numbers, poor deployment by Union commanders. The (p.157) Confederates apparently also “fought like Trojans … imbued with the spirit of desperation fomented through alcoholic inspiration.” All of these reasons premeditated against a successful defense by the Eleventh Corps, but still criticism rained down upon the heads of the German veterans of the organization. “It may not be amiss to remind our English speaking companions, who are so readily inclined to deride the soldierly qualities of their German associates, that … t is perhaps well to remember that the English regiments of the Corps were among the first to give way under the ever pressing dare devil onslaught, while it was left to the exclusively German commands to stem the tide of the ferocious assault.” aced with such facts, Steiger wondered why not “a more consistent consideration should be accorded these sorely pressed soldiers by their English speaking comrades.” The “odium” cast upon the Germans for Chancellorsville “by many of our extreme selfishly disposed American compatriots” needed to finally end. It was painful enough to remember the losses of friends and relatives who fell in the war, but coupled with the nativistic persecution that yet persisted, the memory of the war was almost too much to bear. Echoing the sentiments of North-South reconciliationists, who wished to put aside former wartime differences to speed the healing of the nation, Steiger thought it would be far better if veterans of all nationalities could simply unite in supporting “our common country.” “Her glory should be our pride; her welfare, our first care; her honor, our sacred trust.”17

Other German veterans were not as outspoken as Steiger in condemning the lingering nativism, but were still quick to point with pride at instances of German valor. On 3 July 1893 the 41st New York unveiled its monument at Gettysburg. One speaker recounted the history of the regiment and claimed it and the Eleventh Corps “made a sturdy fight” at Chancellorsville. Even though Jackson's “first attack” fell on the 41st, the men “fired three well-directed volleys, and then retreated, stopping from time to time to rally with other regiments at various points and deliver their fire.” Although the clouds of memory probably got in the way of historical accuracy here, the speaker admitted that “some of the men joined in the stampede, usual under such circumstances,” but made it clear that “the body of the regiment moved steadily … and formed again” to fight another day. Christian Boehm of the 45th New York gave an oration in German at his regiment's monument dedication in 1888. Understandably concentrating on the battle at Gettysburg, Boehm concluded by exclaiming, “Now may this handsome monument eternally stand and show posterity that sons of the German nation fell here as heroes and good patriots, and that the foreignborn also truly fulfill their duties to their adopted Fatherland, and, when necessary, bravely sacrifice their lives.” Speakers at the Gettysburg monument unveilings of the 58th and 68th New York similarly related with pride the roles (p.158) of their regiments at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. In the former battle, one veteran recounted that “Schurz's regiments held their ground for a half hour or more,” and “made a gallant effort to stem the tide of defeat, and did not abandon their position until one-fourth of their number had fallen.” Although not dripping with bitterness like Steiger's speech at Orchard Knob, the New Yorkers' addresses at Gettysburg indicated that the veterans of these German regiments also believed they had nobly done their duty and deserved public recognition.18

“To have been a member of the Seventy-fourth Pennsylvania is a prouder distinction than any patent of nobility that king or potentate might confer. And, as Germans, we are all proud of their record.” Former Captain Paul Rohrbacker must have glowed as he spoke of his regiment's service and its ethnicity at the dedication of its monument at Gettysburg on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the battle. “It has become fashionable for Anglomaniacs to belittle everything that does not come from England, and call England the mother country,” he continued. “Nothing is further from the truth. It was disputed a century ago. It is less true now. The whole world is the mother country of this land. We Germans are not here since yesterday.” He then recounted the favorite German American story about the saving of St. Louis and Missouri in 1861, Blenker's covering of the retreat at First Manassas, and the names of just about every German general and prominent officer in the war. “Loyally and faithfully they served their country in the winter's cold and during the summer's heat you find them inhaling the poisoned breath of the swamp,” he asserted, and on the march and in camp “you might have heard them singing German songs— songs from the Rhine, the Danube, the Weser, and the Main.” These men and thousands who followed them enlisted “as free men, not as hirelings,” and “offere[d] their life for the preservation of this land.” Rohrbacker never mentioned Chancellorsville or nativism, but was obviously referring to the latter as his rhetoric tried to “prove” the Americanism of his comrades from the 74th. To him, being a loyal American meant being true to his German ethnicity, celebrating it and the deeds of his comrades, and not accepting prejudice:

Were these soldiers less patriotic because they spoke German and sang German songs? … Were the blows dealt by them less vigorous because they were given by German arms? … I tell you, my friends, twenty-five or fifty years hence the descendants of those men who fell or fought at Gettysburg will be as proud of the deeds of his ancestor and of his Americanism, as are to-day the children of those who fought at Bunker Hill, or Lexington, and looking back at the history of our time, these Americans will wonder that there ever could be any jealousy or Knownothingism, because the ancestor (p.159) of one landed at Castle Garden or East Boston. We should measure the worth of the American citizen by his honesty, his capacity, his patriotism and his sympathies, independent of whether he or his father entered the family of the republic yesterday or a few decades before; our dead heroes have furnished us the criterion of the true American, for he cannot be called anAmerican, who, though he came down from the signers of the Declaration of Independence itself, stirs up ill feelings among his fellow citizens.19

Rohrbacker then argued that powerful nations could only achieve their power through unity of national feeling. Citing Germany as an example, he claimed that “we, as German Americans, familiar with the history of the past, glory in a united Germany.” With that last statement, he not only betrayed some nationalistic pride in the old country—pride which several authors have argued motivated renewed German American attempts at unity after 1870—but also pitted the United States against Germany and found America wanting. What the United States lacked was a nationalistic spirit, its growth hampered, apparently, by continued Anglo American nativism. Such prejudice forcibly separated ethnic Americans from the rest of the citizenry and obliged them to retain, or even enlarge their ethnic consciousness. Germans had fought honorably for the flag and Union as ethnic Germans; nativism was foolish and, importantly, un-American; the German war dead bought with their blood their countrymen's rights as Americans—these were Rohrbacker's primary points (echoing in several ways Steiger's comments), and without even mentioning Chancellorsville, he struck at the core of German Americans' feelings about the battle, its lingering aftermath, and the war as a whole. There was no need for Anglo Americans to continually harass German immigrants for being “cowardly Dutchmen” because the war was over, the Union preserved, and the rights of Germans as citizens secured through blood sacrifice. It was downright unpatriotic to preserve nativism. But as long as the descendants of “the signers of the Declaration of Independence” persisted in casting aspersions on German Americans, stirring up “ill feeling,” as Rohrbacker put it, then the Germans would still be loyal, but would also continue being German.20

“ Treu Dem Neuen Vaterland”: The Pluralistic Postwar Vision

Several scholars have pointed out that German America from the 1870s to 1914 increasingly assumed a “culturally pluralistic” appearance, one that is in accordance with Rohrbacker's verbiage. This belief structure, evident through-out the German-language press, German American academic writings, and in (p.160) German American artistic endeavors, stressed at once the desirability and benefits of assimilation and the defense of German ethnicity. Leading proponents of this vision argued that American society owed many of its finer qualities to Teutonic immigrants and that the country would continue benefiting only if the Germans were permitted to continue being German. As increasing numbers of southern and eastern European immigrants arrived in the last decades of the nineteenth century, German leaders believed their ethnic group would only become more valuable to the nation, and correctly noted that, in comparison with the newcomers, the Germans did not appear as different from Anglo Americans as they once did. The latter group supposedly needed the gifts the Germans could offer, now more than ever, and therefore the argument went that the German-born should preserve their ethnicity. In other words, what made German Americans different also made them excellent, contributing citizens. Thus, the German cultural pluralists retained the use of the German language and, indeed, strictly defended it; fought desperate political battles against the forces of temperance and Sunday laws; relished and supported German cultural folkways and institutions, such as the Biergarten, the Turnverein and other ethnic societies; and essentially did everything they could to retard outright Americanization. There were opponents of this movement, the so-called anti-Germanizers, who also made their presence felt, and the question of how much the leaders spoke for the average German American is still being debated. Historians and sociologists supporting the pluralistic image of post–Civil War German America nonetheless hold the scholarly high ground at this point.21

In this effort to retain their ethnicity for the good of the country, German American cultural pluralists made frequent references to the Civil War. Two primary arguments emerged as early as 1865 that continued on past the turn of the century. First, the bloodshed and sacrifices of their soldiers had fully earned Germans' rights as American citizens. No one could dare challenge the patriotism and intent of the country's Teutonic immigrants anymore, regardless of how German they wanted to remain. German American writers seemed to relish this point, repeatedly offering their readerships the exaggerated idea that they had not only been the ones to tip the election to Lincoln in 1860—an old myth that still perseveres—but also that their soldiers had been decisive in wining the final Union victory. The blood spilled in defense of the Union became the Germans' entry card into the club of full American citizenship.

The second major point reminded Germans of the nativism that re-emerged in the Civil War era. Because of that bitter memory, German Americans had no business leaping into the melting pot. To do so would be hypocritical and reward prejudiced Anglo Americans, their erstwhile detractors. It was important to look to the future and join with other Americans in building the nation, (p.161) but not at the expense of their German ethnicity. As they moved forward, German citizens needed to remember the past.

Friedrich Kapp had been quick to defend German honor directly after Chancellorsville and remained one of the most outspoken champions of German ethnicity directly after the war. He would become known as an assimilationist later on, but his early speeches and writings actually reveal a thought process more akin to cultural pluralism. Asked to give the final speech that would close the activities of the Ninth German Saängerfest in Jones Wood, New York City, in July 1865, Kapp reminded the audience that German “Sängers and Turners were first” to take up arms in defense of the flag, and “had displayed their devotion to the Republic on almost all battlefields of the colossal war.” He mentioned this “not in the vain spirit of exaggeration,” but simply to set the record straight. However, “The times are happily over when the German hurls from himself as quickly as possible his entire history and education so that he may fast become a practical American. The Knownothing movement has had the positive effect of negating the idea that there is no higher plane of existence than to sink to being the disciples of Americanism. The firmer we hold on to the spiritual treasures of our nationality, the more recognition and respect us will find from the natives.” In a textbook declaration of pluralism, Kapp then exclaimed, “Let us settle down here as well as we can, naturalize so far as we wish to, but let us work towards the good and betterment of the United States in correspondence to the spirit of our past and our character.” Another famous forty-eighter, Judge Johann B. Stall of Cincinnati, spoke in very similar terms in a speech about nativism in the school system in 1866. To a large audience assembled in the Cincinnati Turner hall, he proclaimed, “We are ready to thankfully accept all that is good that is offered to us from [other peoples]; we will attempt to repay this value with a corresponding counter-gift. But we are not prepared to sacrifice our own nature, our inner freedom and moral sturdiness.” Then he spoke in more ominous terms. If forced to choose, because of others' nativistic proclivities, between “civil liberty, which America offers me, and spiritual freedom that is readily available from the German spirit, I would with heavy heart but without vacillation take my children with me back to the old German earth.” He ended by saying that he hoped German Americans would never have to make such an unfortunate decision, that “at the celebratory banquet of the American republic the tankard of German thought may also be passed around.”22

The indomitable Friedrich Lexow, one of the most virulent early proponents of a pluralistic vision for his countrymen, published article after article in the Deutsch-Amerikanische Monatshefte in support of this philosophy. In a series of 1866 articles on the assimilation of the Germans, he argued that “what we enjoy (p.162) here we have earned; the blood of our heroes has dearly bought for us this country as a homeland. We are not foreigners in America, in that we are fully equal with the natives… Our nature, our individuality and customs have the same entitlements as all the others.” He reiterated the argument, like Kapp, that Germans had much of value to bequeath their new home, and were willing to learn from Anglo Americans in areas where they were uniquely qualified and experienced. “The German is by nature an unmitigated lover of freedom, and he wants it not just for himself, but for all people. The upright enthusiasm for the good and beautiful is a beneficial German quality,” as were countless others that Lexow listed in a fit of ethnocentric largesse. All of these could be given freely to improve the nation, he insisted, but Germans who too quickly received from the greater American public without retaining their ethnic identity found themselves in a “no man's land that no one cares for. They simply become bad Americans … and experience shows us that Germans who Americanized in this manner are not among the best citizens of the republic.” Lexow explained why he thought these immigrants had done what they did: “Behind us lies a time that we do not fondly remember. The German word was not cherished and cultivated, the banner of German custom not held high in victory. The German in America disowned his heritage where he could, urged himself to forget that he was a German, and the goal of his ambition was the complete, quick, plunging into that which he understood as Americanism. So it was not by all, but by many, yes, by the majority. This time of humiliation has been overcome. A better recognition of what lies ahead for us in America is now leading the way, and what was once the rule has become the shameful exception.”23

Nativism as the primary reason not to Americanize and to hold on to German ethnicity was the primary topic of one Dr. Welsch, who wrote a philosophical piece in an 1867 issue of the Monatshefte. Even bolder in his beliefs than editor Lexow, Welsch postulated that the few Americans who had “Germanized” had benefited greatly and that increasing German immigration would ultimately bring about a greater influence of Germans in the United States in the years to come. That could only be a good thing for the country, he argued, because Americans who had no contact with Germans exhibited “ignorance and narrow-mindedness, complacent peddling and active loafing, bloated pauperism and naked bestiality.” Yet the “German immigration does not force the natives to Germanize … but it also rejects the demand to Americanize, because it possesses too much pride in its own worth, too much independent strength and too much confidence in its future” than to “make other concessions to cocky nativism.”24

(p.163) Similar ideas could be found in the pages of the major German American newspapers in the postwar era. The Philadelphia Demokrat urged “every German American” to “have pride in his heritage and knowledge of the worth and service of his people to the country.” His “language and his way of life are fully within his rights” to exercise, as they were earned and “founded in two centuries worth of cultural work” in the nation. The Pittsburgher Volksblatt also told its readers to look back on the German American past with pride, arguing that lingering nativist feelings from the war were responsible for “the shrouding of the efforts of the German American element in the struggle for freedom in the new Fatherland.” But that problem could be overcome if more German-born writers engaged in preserving the history of their element, thus informing their countrymen of their ethnic group's valuable services in the past. By placing German American history on an equal plane with Anglo American history, an effective counterattack could be mounted against the “impertinence” and “injustice” of the nativists.25

As we have seen, some German American historians answered this challenge, but few of them were even-handed in their efforts. Most espoused a very pro-German interpretation of the war and evinced little interest in a more pluralist vision. L. W. Habercom was an exception. His Our Adopted Fatherland: a History of the United States, published in Milwaukee in1889, exemplified the cultural pluralist philosophy being propounded in the major German-language newspapers and journals of the day. Claiming that Germans had a special patent on “thoroughness” and “faithfulness” as character traits, their service in the Civil War proved their other great, ethnic characteristic: patriotism. “We have mentioned that the German Americans gave their all for the Union when it was in danger, that they were counted among the first patriots who rallied to the threatened starry banner in April 1861, that they bravely held out and fought. German troops created the core of the Union armies at the beginning of the war. German officers were counted among the best in the service of the Union.” In sum, “German loyalty could be relied upon, and never more faith-fully than in the Civil War.” Habercom then clinched his major point: “May German thoroughness, faithfulness, and patriotism evermore remain the watchwords of the German element in the United States, and always sharply and precisely stamp themselves on the American national character.” A better marriage of German Civil War memory and pluralistic philosophy would be hard to find.26

On 26 November 1910 the German American residents of Dayton, Ohio, assembled in the German American Memorial Building to dedicate a monument. It was the first of its kind in the United States, a monument honoring all German (p.164) soldiers who had fought in America's wars. Dominating the structure was a Union soldier, rifle held at the ready, and a great patriotic shield that read, “Treu dem neuen Vaterland (loyalty to the new Fatherland). An inscription in English declared, “In memory of the men of German blood who aided in the War of the Revolution to establish the Union of the states and in the Civil War offered their lives to perpetuate that Union.” For two days the citizenry celebrated the unveiling with speeches, parades, and, of course, eating and drinking. Finally, Reverend H. G. Eisenlohr from Cincinnati gave the primary speech. He told the assembled listeners that this celebration was a “celebration by American citizens to honor other Americans,” and added that they were not there to extol the memory of Germans at the cost of other patriots. “We are all citizens of the same country here,” he proclaimed, “but we all want to stand at the same level! Nothing more but nothing less. And because one from the other side sees fit to overlook German accomplishments, so we may safely emphasize them.” Much of what was good in the United States originated with the Germans, he said, and he implored his audience “not to forget your German ancestry.” Raising his voice for the conclusion, he exhorted, “Do not disclaim your Deutschtum! It is a dearly-bought inheritance, well worth treasuring.” This monument “does honor not only to those who served, but is also a constant reminder for us. Throw away finally that false shame, be proud that you are a German, or thankful that you descend from Germans!”27

It had taken fifty years, but the German Americans had at last shaken off the legacy of Chancellorsville, evincing signs of cultural unity and ethnic strength unseen since the Civil War itself. How eerily unfortunate that within the decade Anglo Americans would again stigmatize German immigrants as undesirable citizens, this time because of World War I. And this time German America would not rally and recover from the sting of nativistic xenophobia, but instead crack irrevocably apart.

The memory of Chancellorsville and the Civil War remained very powerful among German Americans in the last decades of the nineteenth century. It is impossible to determine how much the barb of nativism still lingered among the veterans and predisposed them to certain actions—such as discouraging Americanizing trends among family members and friends—but it is not a gigantic leap of faith to postulate that their thoughts and memories must have somehow transferred to their loved ones, and indeed the greater German American population. These men had represented their ethnic group during the Civil War. They were its heroes, its models. The hopes and dreams of northern Germans marched with Blenker's division, fought at Cross Keys and Second Manassas, and retreated at Chancellorsville. The coverage of these events in the (p.165) German-language press proved the extent of public interest in the ethnic regiments and their fates during the war. If we cannot definitively connect the nativism unleashed during the Civil War to a slowed acculturation rate among German Americans in the postwar era, we can trace the uncanny chronology of events: increased ethnic consciousness in the first two years of the war, the battle of Chancellorsville and expanding nativism, followed by German indignance and attempts at unity in response, and then a pluralistic celebration of German ethnicity in the postwar decades that stressed the benefits of remaining German to immigrants. Certainly, as Paul Rohrbacker of the 74th Pennsylvania insinuated, the unification of Germany in 1871 played a major role in the renaissance of German ethnic pride in the United States. Public agitation for temperance and Sunday laws especially in the 1880s and 1890s also did little to endear teetotaling Anglo Americans to their German American neighbors, who felt their natural-born rights were under attack. But something unsettling, even sinister from the Civil War—the most prominent event in the lives of nineteenth-century Americans—haunted German immigrants in the postwar decades. They could not rid themselves of it until the eve of the Great War, an event that ultimately proved the undoing of most German American communities across the United States.

All these years after the decline of the little Germanies in our cities and the vanishing of the German tongue from urban neighborhoods, the history of German America during the Civil War can inform us about how we as a nation react during times of crisis, how many Americans still view ethnic and immgrant citizens, and how those citizens react to prejudice during periods of national stress. Although it would be unthinkable today for a nativistic political party to gain national prominence as the Know Nothings briefly did in the 1850s, it is not a great stretch to hypothesize that one of the major parties could seriously espouse nativist tendencies today. Whether or not these tendencies would manifest themselves as bills in Congress is debatable, as is the dubious proposition of such bills actually becoming laws. But all we have to do to find modern echoes of the prejudice suffered by the Germans in the Civil War era is to recall the almost knee-jerk reaction against Muslim Americans after 11 September 2001. Throughout the United States, American citizens with even Muslim-sounding last names were singled out for ridicule, harassed in public places, and otherwise made to feel uncomfortable. Even people whose ancestors had emigrated generations earlier but who had Middle Eastern surnames frequently came under suspicion not only by their fellow citizens, but also by the federal government itself. Although it is difficult to confirm, certain national agencies probably possess “blacklists” composed of names of persons whose only crime is, in most cases, having the wrong last name or ethnicity. The similarities (p.166) between post–9/11 America and the North in the Civil War are not at all exact, but in both instances the country was outraged at an attack on its native soil, by the violation of its sovereignty, and by the shock of being plunged suddenly into violence. In both cases, sizeable populations of the foreign-born existed whose loyalties seemed questionable, yet in nearly all cases they were not. Both periods also witnessed a prewar uneasiness with immigrants in general, in which thousands of jobs traditionally earmarked for poorer, “native-born” whites and blacks began to be taken by increasing numbers of newcomers; in the 1840s and '50s it was the Irish and Germans, in the 1980s and '90s it was primarily Hispanic, East Asian, and Middle Eastern immigrants. Debates about whether or not to shut off immigration, build walls along the border with Mexico, and how, exactly, to “keep America American” proliferated at all levels of society in the 1990s, and although not as potentially threatening to the foreign-born as the Know Nothings of the 1850s, still set the stage for a backlash later when the crisis exploded.

After both 9/11 in 2001 and Chancellorsville in 1863 a scapegoat was needed to salve a wounded nation. A viable “foreign” enemy (Al-Qaeda may or may not be considered entirely “foreign” depending on one's sources; Confederates were perceived as foreigners by most northerners) clearly created the immediate disaster both times, but it could be argued that bungling at the top levels assisted the enemy in wreaking such havoc. To cover up this mismanagement, someone—or some group—had to take the blame. Clearly we have progressed a great deal as a society since 1863, and thankfully the majority of the American population did not automatically resort to ridiculing all Muslim Americans for the tragedy on 9/11. But alarmingly large elements of the population did, and still harbor such sentiments six years later. At the very least, a feeling of general distrust seems to exist between Muslim and non-Muslim Americans echoing that between German and Anglo Americans after 1863 (indeed, other historical examples could be inserted here, such as the treatment of Japanese Americans after Pearl Harbor). And like the German communities of the Civil War era, modern Muslim communities in the United States and Britain have turned inward, reinforced their religious and ethnic beliefs, and argued strenuously in defense of their civil liberties against what they perceive as encroachment from the majority population. Even more similar is the approach that some Muslim and Arab Americans have taken regarding military service, believing they must prove their Americanism by enlisting. Japanese Americans volunteered for the armed services in extremely high numbers after Pearl Harbor for the same reasons.

The great difference among these examples is, of course, that Germany was never the attacker of the Union, so the loyalties of German Americans could (p.167) not be questioned in the 1860s in the same way as those of Japanese or Arab Americans in later periods. Instead, German Americans fought steadfastly throughout the Civil War to preserve the Union, all too often offering, as Lincoln eloquently said, “the last full measure of devotion.” How ironically tragic it is, therefore, that this major ethnic group, which more than proved its patriotism, received the nativistic prejudice that it did during the war. The Germans' reactions to that intolerance is instructive today: in a multiethnic nation, a group unfairly singled out for blame for a national disaster will naturally retreat unto itself and reinforce its own separate identity. The America of the late nineteenth century was strong enough to withstand that sort of cultural pluralism; it remains to be seen if the United States of today is. In a modern nation of immigrants, in an age when multiculturalism is supposedly celebrated, the memory of German America and its reactions to Chancellorsville is especially salient. We ignore it at our own peril. Perhaps the tombstone of nativism has finally been carved, but its date of death is sadly not yet inscribed. (p.168)


(1.) Der Deutsche Pionier 15, no. 8 (November 1883): 330–31.

(2.) Stephen Engle, Yankee Dutchman, 212–28; David W. Blight, Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2001); Stuart McConnell, Glorious Contentment: The Grand Army of the Republic, 1865–1900 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992), 55, 69, 209, 272; Margaret Creighton, The Colors of Courage: Gettysburg' Forgotten History (Cambridge, Mass.: Basic Books, 2005), chapter 8; Martin Oefele, German-Speaking Officers in the U.S. Colored Troops, 1863–1867(Gainesville, Florida: University Press of Florida, (p.194) 2004), 229–33. Another fascinating work at the intersection of the subjects of Civil War memory and German Americans in the war is Peter Sevenson, Battlefield: Farming a Civil War Battleground (New York: Ballantine Books, 1992), which does not analyze German American memory of the war at all, but is a charming story of how one man, who bought a large portion of the Cross Keys battlefield, struggled to remember and honor those who died there.

(3.) Helbich and Kamphoefner, Deutsche im Amerikanischen Bürgerkrieg, 82–85; Engle, Yankee Dutchman, 230.

(4.) For some excellent examples of early literature focusing on exclusively German American issues in the war, see, for instance, a poem celebrating the return of the Ger-man 24th Illinois: “Die Heimkehr: Dem 24. Illinois (Hecker) Regiment Gewidmet,” Deutsch-Amerikanische Monatshefte 2 (August 1864): 169–70, or one honoring the German dead buried in Monroe, Michigan, entitled, “Unsere Todten,” in the January issue of the same publication. For examples of good biographical sketches of German military leaders, see the installments “General Adolph von Steinwehr,” “General August Willich,” and “General Hugo Wangelin,” in Der Deutsche Pionier 9, no. 1 (April 1877): 17–28; 10, no. 2 (May 1878): 69–71; 10, no. 3 (June 1878): 114–17; 10, no. 4 (July 1878): 144–47; and 15, no. 10 (January 1884): 408–10. Some good examples of anecdotes about German soldiers may also be found scattered throughout the issues of the Pionier, but see especially “Ein paar Soldaten-Geschichten,” in vol. 18, no. 1 (1886), 12–13 and “Merkwürdiges Wiedersehen von zwei deutschen Veteranen,” in vol 18, no. 2 (1887) 111–12. Obituaries of prominent officers often carried with them short histories of German American arms during the war, such as that of Lieutenant Colonel Heinrch von Trebra of the 32nd Indiana, which appeared in the January 1910 issue of the Deutsch-Amerikanische Geschichtsblätter, 31–33. Even a history of the Chicago Turnverein in 1905 was dominated by a history of the organization's involvement in the Civil War. See Deutch-Amerikanische Geschichtsblätter (July 1905): 42–46.

(5.) Rudolph Lexow, “Zur Erinnerung,” Deutsch-Amerikanische Monatshefte 3 (Janu-ary 1866): 2–26.

(6.) Ernst Reinhold Schmidt, Der Amerikanische Bürgerkrieg: Geschichte des Volks der Vereinigten Staaten vor, wa¨hrend und nach der Rebellion, II (Philadelphia and Leipzig: Verlag von Schäfer und Koradi, 1867): 155, 226–27, 251–52.

(7.) E. Schlaeger, Die sociale und politische Stellung der Deutchen in den Vereinigten Staaten (Berlin: Puttkamer and Mu¨hlbrecht, 1874): 25; Martin Luecke, Der Bürgerkrieg der Vereinigten Staaten, 1861–65 (St. Louis: Druck und Verlag von Louis Lange, 1892), 177.

(8.) Wilhelm Kaufmann, The Germans in the American Civil War (1911; reprint and translation, Carlisle, Pa.: John Kallman Publishers, 1999): 2, 198–200, 210–11. Kaufmann' book was heralded all throughout the German American press even before its publication. Several sections of it were originally published in serial form in over eighty German-language newspapers before the author compiled them and created the final product (Kaufmann, reprint, v).

(9.) Schurz, Reminiscences, 2:407–43; 3:51, 85–95; Schurz, “Reminiscences of a Long Life,” McClures Magazine (June 1917): 161–76; Mary Elizabeth McMorrow, “The Nineteenth-Century German Political Immigrant and the Construction of American Culture and Thought” (Ph.D. diss, New School for Social Research, 1982), 119–22; Trefousse, Schurz, 135.

(10.) T. A. Meysenberg, “Reminiscences of Chancellorsville,” War Papers and Personal Reminiscences (St. Louis: MOLLUS Missouri, 1892), 1:306; Hamlin, Chancellorsville, 159. It is interesting to note what Meysenberg left out of his paper, namely, any criticism of General Howard, whom he dutifully served during the war, and, according to several (p.195) believable accounts, may have protected by “pocketing” Hooker's famous “9:30 order.” (see chapter 2).

(11.) Hubert Dilger to Augustus Hamlin, 12 July 1892 and 3 April 1893, both in bMS Am 1084 (temp. box 22, file N-O), Houghton Library, Harvard University; Karl Doerflinger, “Familiar History of the Twenty-sixth Regiment Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry: I. Personal Reminiscences of the Battle of Chancellorsville; particularly on Hawkins' Field,” 18 March 1911, original at State Historical Society of Wisconsin, copy at archives, FSNMP.

(12.) “General Adolph von Steinwehr, Die Deutsche Pionier 9, no. 1 (April 1877): 17–28.

(13.) “Carl Schurz: Sein Leben und Wirken,” Deutsch-Amerikanische Geschichtsblätter 3 (July 1906): 6–9.

(14.) William Vocke, “Our German Soldiers,” Military Essays and Recollections (Chicago: MOLLUS Illinois, 1899), 3:350–57.

(15.) Stuart McConnell, Glorious Contentment, 55, 272; Hermann Nachtigall to Augustus C. Hamlin, 28 January 1893, Augustus Hamlin Papers, bMS Am 1084 (temp. box 22, file N-O), Houghton Library, Harvard University. Post 8 in Philadelphia was also primarily composed of German-born veterans.

(16.) Address of Lieutenant T. Albert Steiger in “Dedication of Monument: 75th Regiment Infantry, Orchard Knob, November 14, 1897,” Chickamauga and Chattanooga Battlefield Commission, Pennsylvania at Chickamauga and Chattanooga: Ceremonies at the Dedications of the Monuments (Harrisburg: William S. Ray, 1900), 167–85.

(18.) “Dedication of Monument, 41st Regiment Infantry, ‘De Kalb Regiment,’ July 3, 1893: Historical Sketch”; “Dedication of Monument, 45th Regiment Infantry, October 10, 1888: Oration of Comrade Christian Boehm”; “Dedication of Monument, 58th Regiment Infantry, July 2, 1888: Historical Sketch” all in William F. Fox, ed., New York at Gettysburg: The NY Monuments Commission Final Report on the Battlefield of Gettysburg (Albany: J. B. Lyon Company, 1900), 306, 377, 429. “Dedication of Monument, 68th Regiment Infantry: Historical Sketch,” in New York Monuments Commission for the Battlefields of Gettysburg and Chattanooga: Final Report on the Battlefield of Gettysburg. (Albany: J. B. Lyon Company, 1902), 2: 568.

(19.) Address of Captain Paul F. Rohrbacker in “Dedication of Monument, 74th Regiment Infantry, July 2, 1888,” in Gettysburg Battlefield Commission, Pennsylvania at Gettysburg: Ceremonies at the Dedication of the Monuments Erected by the Commonwealth (Harrisburg: William S. Ray, 1914), 1:427–30.

(21.) Some of the early leaders of the cultural pluralist school are Michael Novak, The Rise of the Unmeltable Ethnics (New York: Macmillan, 1973); Thomas Sowell, Ethnic America: A History (New York: Basic Books, 1981); Joseph A. Ryan, ed., White Ethnic Life in Working Class America (Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1973); and Nathan Glazer and Daniel P. Moynihan, Beyond the Melting Pot: The Negroes, Puerto Ricans, Jews, Italians, and Irish of New York City, 2nd ed. (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1970). Werner Sollors, ed., The Invention of Ethnicity (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989); Kathleen Neils Conzen, “German Americans and the Invention of Ethnicity,” in Frank Trommler and Joseph McVeigh, eds., America and the Germans: An Assessment of a Three-Hundred Year History, vol. 1: Immigration, Language, Ethnicity (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1985); David L. Salvaterra, “Becoming American: Assimilation, Pluralism, and Ethnic Identity,” in Timothy Walsh, ed., Immigrant America: European Ethnicity in the United States (New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1994); and more recently, Matthew Frye Jacobson, Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1998), have added a great deal to the earlier scholars' studies of immigrant groups' pluralistic behavior, especially for the last few decades of the nineteenth century, which is my focus in this chapter. I have been (p.196) especially influenced by Conzen' work. Russell A. Kazal' Becoming Old Stock: The Paradox of German American Identity (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004) is an excellent study of how Philadelphia' German Americans ultimately assimilated, modeled on the cultural pluralist school, but chronologically begins only in 1900.

(22.) Friedrich Kapp, “Rede, gehalten am 19. Juli 1865 in Jones Wood, in New York, zum Schluss des neunten deutschen Sa¨ngerfestes,” reprinted in Deutsch-Amerikanische Monatshefte (August 1865): 182–88; “Der Nativismus in den Staatschulen,” in J. B. Stallo, Reden, Abhandlungen und Briefe von J. B. Stallo (New York: E. Steiger and Co., 1893), 193–96.

(23.) Friedrich Lexow, “Die Deutschen in Amerika,” Deutsch-Amerikanisch Monatshefte 3 (January 1866): 149–54, and March 1866, 255–61. Lexow welcomed those who disagreed with him, as evidenced by two lengthy articles written by Charles L. Bernays, former editor of the powerful Anzeiger des Westens. Bernays was an “anti-Germanizer” as much as he was an assimilationist, taking great issue with the pluralist attitudes of Lexow. See “Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte,” and “Betrachtungen” in Deutsch-Amerikanische Monatshefte 4 (February 1867): 91–108 and May 1867, 386–99.

(24.) “Deutsch-Amerikaner, aber keine amerikanisirte Deustche,” Deutsch-Amerikanische Monatshefte 4(April 1867): 348–56.

(25.) Article from Philadelphia Demokrat reprinted in Der Deutsche Pionier 14, no. 6 (September 1882): 216; article from Pittsburgher Volksblatt reprinted in Der Deutsche Pionier 3, no. 5 (July 1871): 149–50. Also see reprints of similar articles from the Illinois-Staatszeitung, the Allentown Weltbote, and the St. Loui Anzeiger des Westens in the Pionier 6, no. 8 (October 1874): 265–67; 7, no. 6 (August 1875): 221–22, and 13, no. 5 (August 1881): 201–2. The Weltbote article also mentioned that the Franco-Prussian war had an “electric” effect upon the emigrated Germans, and that now “the Germans of the old and new world are united like never before through the magical bond of blood relationships, language, ideas and feelings, customs, and desires … they are now a harmonic whole.”

(26.) L. W. Habercom, Unser Adoptiv-Vaterland: eine Geschichte der Vereinigten Staaten mit Berücksichtigung des deutsch-amerikanischen Elementes (Milwaukee: the Milwaukee “Herold,” 1889), 337–88.

(27.) “Denkmal der Deutsch-Amerikaner in Dayton, Ohio,” Deutsch-Amerikanische Geschichtsblätter (January 1911): 8–15.