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Civil war

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Civil war

The Civil War

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 ...

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