Book Review: Yankee Dutchmen Under Fire: Civil War Letters from the 82nd Illinois Infantry

Archives

by Joseph R. Reinhart, translator and editor

Kent, Oh.: Kent State University Press, 2013. Pp. xiv, 262. Illus., maps, notes., biblio., index. $45.00. ISBN: 1606351761

The Civil War in the Words of the Men of the 82nd Illinois.

The 82nd Illinois, or the "2nd Hecker Regiment," was organized in October of 1862 from German immigrants and a company of Scandinavians, many of whom could barely speak English, but all of whom seem to have been inveterate letter writers.  Reinhart, who has done extensive work in the role of Germans in the Civil War, found material for this book in various depositories,  family collections, and local newspapers. 

In their letters the troops tell the personal side of soldiering, as they served in the Eleventh Corps during the “Mud March” and at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg in the East, and then went to the West for the Chattanooga and Atlanta campaigns, the March to the Sea, and the Carolina Campaign.  The men reveal themselves as dedicated to the Union cause, worried about their families, coping with combat and loss, much like the “American” troops who served alongside them.  But the letters also reveal that they were somewhat older than their “native born” comrades, more politically aware, and rather liberal.  The letters also reveal how their ethnic backgrounds affected their service and relations with their comrades, especially since German troops were often blamed for reverses.  

Offering insights into the lives and motivations of the immigrant volunteer, Yankee Dutchmen Under Fire is worthwhile reading not only for studens of the Civil War but for anyone interested in why men fight.

 

Yankee Dutchmen Under Fire is a volume in the Kent series “Civil War in the North”

---///---
Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   


Buy it at Amazon.com




X

ad
0
30

Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 30 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close