The Civil War boosted Northern support for immigration

Here we arrive at one of the least appreciated factors in the equation that led to the Union victory: the military service of immigrants.  Foreign-born recruits provided the Union army with the advantage it needed over its Confederate rival.  An estimated 25 percent of the soldiers in the Union army (some 543,000) and more than 40 percent of the seamen in the navy (84,000) were foreign-born.  If one includes soldiers with at least one immigrant parent, the overall figure climbs to 43 percent of the Union army…

The demands of war meant that Union officials needed to appeal to immigrants.  Military recruitment placards were printed in foreign languages; Union officials presented the war as part of a transnational struggle for republican government, thereby decoupling the idea of the nation from Anglo-Saxon Protestantism…

The military service of the foreign-born did more than enhance the Union’s advantage in the field.  It also transformed the politics of nativism in the United States.  From the nativism of the 1850s, exemplified by Know-Nothingism and bigoted anti-Catholicism, the Union now moved in the direction of welcoming — indeed, encouraging — foreign arrivals.

That is all from the new book by Jay Sexton, A Nation Forged by Crisis: A New American History.


In other words, immigration means war. The North hired foreign mercenaries to help it crush the South. Without them the war might have been avoided altogether, saving many lives and limbs as well as much wealth that could have been devoted to capitalizing econmic growth. Southern slavery would have faded out within a few decades (as it did in all other even halfway developed countries), so the North's use of foreigners to attack the South was a crime of titanic proportions. Lincoln really was "The American Stalin."

Is a Mexican trying to replace you, hun?

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Are you a Russian troll? That's confused on so many levels: 1) the south declared independence before Lincoln took office and initiated hostilities) the institution of slavery faded in the rest of the world because of govt action particularly British, 3) slaves were incredibly valuable at the start of the war, 4) most of foreign born recruits were already here, this is about the attitudes of native born torwards them changing.

Would an actual Russian troll ever actually answer your question?

'The North hired foreign mercenaries to help it crush the South.'

No, but in the case of many Germans, the Union was able to use the failure of the German 1848 attempt to replace aristocratic governments with democratic ones to recruit large numbers of people sympathetic to the idea that "that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth," even if that hope had been bloodily crushed in Germany.

You may want to read more about this person - 'Franz Sigel (November 18, 1824 – August 21, 1902) was a German American military officer, revolutionist and immigrant to the United States who was a teacher, newspaperman, politician, and served as a Union major general in the American Civil War. His ability to recruit German-speaking immigrants to the Union armies received the approval of President Abraham Lincoln, but he was strongly disliked by General-in-Chief Henry Halleck.


After organizing a revolutionary free corps in Mannheim and later in the Seekreis county, he soon became a leader of the Baden revolutionary forces (with the rank of colonel) in the 1848 Revolution, being one of the few revolutionaries with military command experience. In April 1848, he led the "Sigel-Zug", recruiting a militia of more than 4,000 volunteers to lead a siege against the city of Freiburg. His militia was defeated on April 23, 1848 by the numerically inferior but better led troops of the Grand Duchy of Baden. In 1849, he became Secretary of War and commander-in-chief of the revolutionary republican government of Baden. Wounded in a skirmish, Sigel had to resign his command but continued to support the revolutionary war effort as adjutant general to his successor Ludwik Mieroslawski. In July, after the defeat of the revolutionaries by Prussian troops and Mieroslawski's departure, Sigel led the retreat of the remaining troops in their flight to Switzerland.'

While Lincoln wasn't in reality "the American Stalin", his turning revolutionary fervor into military might doesn't exactly disconfirm the idea.

That would have been Lenin using revolutionary fervor (plus the help of the original organization that later became Putin's employ) to handle this war - 'The 1920 Kiev Offensive (or Kiev Operation), sometimes considered to have started the Soviet-Polish War,[1] was an attempt by the armed forces of the newly re-emerged Poland led by Józef Piłsudski, in alliance with the Ukrainian leader Symon Petliura, to seize the territories of modern-day Ukraine which fell under the Soviet control after the Bolshevik Revolution. The operation led to a Soviet counteroffensive resulting in the creation of the short-lived Galician Soviet Socialist Republic, and ended amicably with the formal Peace of Riga of 1921.'

Along with this - 'The Russian Civil War (7 November 1917 – 25 October 1922) was a multi-party war in the former Russian Empire immediately after the two Russian Revolutions of 1917, as many factions vied to determine Russia's political future. The two largest combatant groups were the Red Army, fighting for the Bolshevik form of socialism led by Vladimir Lenin, and the loosely allied forces known as the White Army, which included diverse interests favoring political monarchism, economic capitalism and alternative forms of socialism, each with democratic and antidemocratic variants. In addition, rival militant socialists and nonideological Green armies fought against both the Bolsheviks and the Whites. Eight foreign nations intervened against the Red Army, notably the former Allied military forces from the World War and the pro-German armies.'

Stalin abandoned revolutionary fervor, actually, and called on patriotism instead to rally Russian troops to defend the motherland.

Ugh. That's paleo-libertarian historical revisionism.

First class trolling.

Well, a number of the Irish had an ulterior motive - 'Irish-American Catholics served on both sides of the American Civil War (1861–1865) as officers, volunteers and draftees. Immigration due to the Irish Great Famine (1845–1852) had provided many thousands of men as potential recruits although issues of race, religion, pacifism and personal allegiance created some resistance to service. A significant body of these Irishmen later used the military experience gained in the American Civil War to fight against British forces with the goal of establishing an Irish Republic as members of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, the Fenian Brotherhood and Clan na Gael.'

And then there were the Germans, many attracted by a figure involved in the failed attempt to make German states democratic - 'German-Americans were the largest ethnic contingent to fight for the Union in the American Civil War. More than 200,000 native Germans served in the Union Army, notably from New York, Wisconsin, and Ohio.


A popular Union commander and native German, Major General Franz Sigel was the highest ranking German-American officer in the Union Army, with many Germans enlisting to "fight mit Sigel." Sigel was a political appointment of President Abraham Lincoln, who hoped that Sigel's immense popularity would help deliver the votes of the increasingly important German segment of the population. He was a member of the Forty-Eighters, a political movement of the revolutions in German states that led to thousands of Germans emigrating to the United States. These included such future Civil War officers as Maj. Gen. Carl Schurz, Brig. Gen. August Willich, Louis Blenker, Max Weber and Alexander Schimmelfennig.'

But to say it boosted support seems to be a bit silly - after all, the Union military used people who were already in the U.S. in the main. And I had thought that it was common knowledge concerning the contribution of the Irish and Germans to the Union war effort.

There appears to be an overwhelming urge among academics to sacralize immigration.

Unless it was the immigration of early white settlers to North America. In that case, the Native Americans are not referred to as xenophobic, nativist, or racist for desiring the whites to go home.

So, I guess there is PC immigration and non-PC immigration.

Indeed. The outcome for 'Native Americans' might have been much better if they had a clearly defined and consistently enforced immigration policy. Unfortunately for them, their tribalism induced them to negotiate separate treaties with the immigrant hordes to serve their own tribal needs, usually political power within their own tribes. They lost it all.

'There appears to be an overwhelming urge among academics to sacralize immigration.'

Maybe because a number of academics are actually immigrants?

Take the Bartley J. Madden Chair in Economics at the Mercatus Center, for example.

Or married to immigrants, as in the case of the person running Emergent Ventures.

Of course, there are some politicians who also seem in favor of immigration, at least when it comes to their mother, wives, and the parents of his current wife. Admittedly, President Trump is not noted for sacralizing immigration. Which actually makes him hypocritical, as compared to the first two examples.

Not sure if he's being hypocritical, unless any of those you mention come from shithole countries.

Interesting point, considering where Trump's mother was from - most people in the UK don't hold the Outer Hebrides in particularly high regard.

And of course, two Trump's wives and his mother did not grow up as native English speakers.

As for the hypocrisy, well, he was involved in the sort of chain migration he is opposed to - 'First lady Melania Trump’s immigration attorney is criticizing the president’s hostility toward “chain migration” — a process by which U.S. citizens or permanent residents can sponsor family members to come to the country — and said the attacks are “unconscionable.”

“This is a tradition that happens in all rank and all files of life, whether you’re president of the United States — and this is the first naturalized first lady that we have — or people who eventually navigate through the waters into America,” Michael Wildes told CNN on Friday.

Wildes, a high-profile attorney who has worked for numerous celebrities on immigration cases, represented the first lady’s parents, who became naturalized citizens Thursday. Viktor and Amalija Knavs left their native Slovenia and had been living in the United States as permanent residents.'

Though possibly, in reference to Nixon, maybe it isn't hypocrisy if the president does it.

Only hypocritical if she's here illegally.

Almost 800,000 were called to the draft during the civil war, but of them only about 46,000 actually served. The bulk of the roughly 1 million who served were either volunteers or "substitutes", the latter often paid large sums and many of whom were immigrants who were eligible for citizenship if they served.

My 3x great-uncle was paid $300 to substitute in October 1863, he "died of disease" as a POW in Richmond the following June. His mother bought a house in upstate NY with his $300, so maybe that was a "large sum".

Many of the residents in my part of the low country are descendants of the Scottish Highlanders who manned the British forts (against the French and Spanish). Scots are notoriously sober, hard-working, and thrifty. Later, many of the German hessian mercenaries who fought for the British in our revolutionary war never left. Germans are notoriously disciplined, the hessians mean bastards. They would put the severed heads of American troops on top of poles to frighten the Americans.

The Hessians were cruel, as were the Scottish Highlanders, who were known and celebrated for giving no quarter to the simple farmers fighting for freedom in their own land. Ultimately, both were soundly defeated.

The Revolution lasted from 1775 (disputable, I use Lexington/Concord as the starting date) to 1783 and would have been much shorter had the Continental Congress funded the Continental Army better and if there had been a better source of gunpowder in North America.

I often wonder why we did not more carefully consider our own history in analyzing the possible outcomes of the war in Vietnam - a sovereign people defending their own turf against a foreign invader. Of course, Ho Chi Minh didn't help himself by embracing Marxism.

Not really analogous. The British weren't invading they were putting down a revolt in their empire. Vietnam and its people were there for centuries before the French and Americans invaded.

A better analogy is the Native Americans, they were defending their own turf against foreign invaders. Maybe their futility is one reason we thought Vietnam would work out.

The white settlers of the New World had a secret weapon in the form of infectious disease that did most of the dirty work of clearing out the native populations.

For every Native American killed by a Spanish sword or a British musket, dozens died from Smallpox, Measles, etc.

In the 100 years following Spanish arrival in Mexico, the local population collapsed by >90%. There's just no way that Spaniards could have murdered that many people in one on one combat. The Spanish were brutal but they weren't Nazis. They did not actually want to kill everyone in Mexico, they mostly wanted to enslave and Christianize the local population and have them work for the empire.

Germs killed off so many of the locals they were forced to launch the trans-atlantic slave trade to supplement the local workforce.

I just finished my readings on the US Civil War. I'm smarter than probably 90% of you on this topic (but I concede there's 10% smarter, as the US Civil War attracts history fanatics). "Gangs of NY" is a largely historically correct movie!

Bonus trivia:
(1) Lots of immigrants in this colorful regiment, who had "Arab style" baggy pants: The 6th New York Infantry Regiment, also called "Wilson's Zouaves", was a unit of the Union Army during the American Civil War

(2) Even today, an Oldtown Alexandria hotel which I won't mention still has a memorial plague honoring the confederate Jackson, who killed the Union solder Ellsworth, both being the first casualties of the US Civil War
MECHANICVILLE, N.Y. — Col. Elmer Ellsworth and James Jackson died within feet of one another, yet the perspectives reflected in historical markers to the two men are as far apart as the 333 miles separating one tribute from the other.

Ellsworth's monument in this Hudson River city doesn't mention Jackson and Ellsworth's name doesn't appear on the plaque adorning the corner of the suburban Washington, D.C., building where Jackson's hotel once stood and where both men died 150 years ago this month.

The monument marks the grave of Ellsworth, long recognized as the first Union officer to die in the Civil War. The plaque hails Jackson as the South's first martyr of the conflict.

The two men, one a confidant of Abraham Lincoln and the other a staunch secessionist, are forever linked by the deadly encounter in an Alexandria, Va., hotel that left both enshrined as the first fallen heroes in a four-year war that would produce them by the thousands, North and South.


What books on the Civil War do you recommend?

"bigoted anti-Catholicism" -- what function does the adjective serve, other than signalling the author's emotional attitude?

Anyway, I guess the point is that the Blue States will use millions of Mexicans, Chinese, Nigerians, and Arabs to crush the Red States, and then everyone will feel good about those multiplying millions. But I thought that the Blue Staters already felt good about them ...?

I am not sure the Chinese feel much affiliation with Mexicans and Nigerians.

Btw, if you want to invite African hordes, Nigerians are probably the first choice. I rather like them and I am an anti-immigration racist bigot, in some SJWs opinion.

A better question: why would Nigerians, with the exception of the very upper strata of the country with the means to come here as doctors or investors, want to come to the US? My understanding is that Nigeria, along with South Africa (and maybe Kenya?), is a destination country for many Africans from other countries because of its hospitable economic climate.


Please don't give them ideas.

Irish peasants - foddering the cannons Anglo-Americans just won't fodder!

Grapeshot, rotting in the fields!

Not racked with dysentery in a Civil War bivouac? Thank an immigrant!

Syria's Assad and Libya's Gaddafi both used foreign "immigrant" troops in their Civil Wars too. I suspect most vicious wars resort to foreign labor to gain leverage. In political wars, immigrants are seen as an army of voters to permanently destroy political rivals. None of those seems noble as TC intends.

Remember that he same generals like Sherman and Sheridan and the same armies that fought against the Confederate South, fought against the Plains Indians with the same ruthless "Total Warfare" and "Scorched Earth" tactics. General Sherman himself wrote, "The more Indians we can kill this year the fewer we will need to kill the next,". Immigrants built that war.

The excerpt is a bit misleading. The anti-Catholicism of the 1850s was driven by the surge in destitute Irish Catholics fleeing the British-imposed potato famine of the 1840s. To the extent that feelings about immigration were softened by the military service of Protestant German immigrants, that hardly construes a repudiation of Anglo-Saxon Protestantism.

I recommend “The Immortal Irishman” by Timothy Egan. It’s about Thomas Meagher, an Irish Revolutionary who was exiled to Tasmania, escaped to San Francisco, commanded the Irish Brigade in the Civil War and became Governor of Montana before drowning in the Missouri River.

Interesting, I had not heard of Meagher. Instead I was thinking about an Irish immigrant who fought for the Confederacy, Patrick Cleburne, one of the better Confederate generals of the war. He seems not to have been in favor of slavery nor particularly of states' rights per se; according to wikipedia he'd immigrated to Arkansas and liked it there so when Arkansas joined the Confederacy he joined their army.

He advocated recruiting Southern blacks into the Confederate army, in return they'd be freed (and also paid). Not surprisingly the Confederate governments did not like that idea (so the claims that the Civil War was not about slavery ring hollow here); later in the war Robert E. Lee also advocated this move and was also rebuffed, not until the last month or so of the war did Jefferson Davis finally put out a call for black recruits.

I wonder if this was in reference to this other story:

"Over the course of 12 months, the U.S. Army discharged more than 500 immigrant enlistees who were recruited across the globe for their language or medical skills and promised a fast track to citizenship in exchange for their service, the AP has found."

Standard caveats apply of course, about the true nature of 500 in that context.

Depending on their nation of origin, the immigrant soldiers may also have been immune to malaria, which---as explained in *1493*---was a major cause of death among Union soldiers in the Civil War.

Interesting. The contribution of blacks to the Union cause are well known, and there's even a book, _The South Against the South_ that makes a good argument that the southerners from the border states tipped the balance in the Civil War even if they didn't actively fight for the North; by not contributing to the Southern cause they helped tip the balance.

I hadn't thought about the immigrant angle though. A key question though is this: what percent of the Confederate army and navy were immigrants?

I guess we can expect that the South was significantly less immigrant-friendly, given their reliance on slave labor rather than a stream of immigrating free labor. Which would be yet another reason why the Confederacy was doomed not just militarily but economically compared to the dynamic and growing (thanks to immigrants) North.

"immigrating free labor"? You gotta pay them to work still. The slaves were 'free' labor.

You're arguing against standard American usage. If someone is forced to work and not get paid, they are slave labor. If they are able to choose from various offers of work where they will get paid, they are free labor.

It's a less interesting contrast today because the free labor system has become dominant, but the comparison of the two systems was a key debate prior to the Civil War.

Just as a practical matter, what industries were there in the South that would have created a demand for immigrant labor? The South was more agrarian, and landholding patterns necessitated by the plantation economy would not have allowed immigrants to homestead or establish small businesses. The North certainly wasn't an egalitarian society, but compared to the South it definitely allowed more opportunity if you had little capital.

Of course, this had its own problems, as industrialists in the North could and did ship in immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe as scabs when the workers attempted striking or other labor organizing activities, then hire Pinkertons if the workers resisted such tactics.

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