Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Virginia Invaded by Foreign Mercenaries

one-third (1/3) of all troops were non-natives distributed approximately as follows:
  • German c. 200,000
  • Irish c. 150,000
  • British c. 150,000
  • Canadians c. 50,000
  • others c. 75,000 (mostly European)
Englishman Edward Dicey reported for the London Spectator and MacMillan’s Magazine, arriving here in 1862. He fell in with Nathaniel Hawthorne and his abolitionist friends, only touring the North. Dicey noted the large presence of German and other social revolutionaries in Northern ranks, underscoring Granny Clampett’s assertion that the war as one “betwixt Yankees and the Americans.” The Americans in Virginia were fighting for their homes and country, the foreigners fought for abstract principles.

Bernhard Thuersam, Chairman
North Carolina War Between the States Sesquicentennial Commission
"The Official Website of the North Carolina WBTS Sesquicentennial"

Virginia Invaded by Foreign Mercenaries

“Our road [to Virginia] lay through Arlington Park, the residence of Confederate General [Robert E.] Lee. It certainly must have required a good deal of patriotism to induce any man to leave such a pleasant residence for the hardships of a camp. But then it must be remembered that when the General with his family left his mansion at the outbreak of Secession, he was confident of returning in triumph within a few weeks.

When the Federals took possession of the house, and turned it into the headquarters of General [Irvin] McDowell’s division, they found the whole place just in the state in which it would have been left if the owners had only intended to go away for a week’s holiday.

The greatest difficulty was experienced in hindering the soldiers from cutting down [Lee’s] trees; and when at last Western regiments were stationed at Arlington Heights, it was found impossible to protect the timber. Hence, by this time the park had been sadly devastated. The ground was so covered with stumps of trees and broken fences that it was with great difficulty we could pilot our horses through the brushwood.

Of all the camps I have seen, this of [Col. Ludwig] Blenker’s seems to me the most comfortable. Blenker’s division were the enfans perdus of the Federal army. In the Potomac army commanded by McClellan….almost all [foreign regiments] were attached to Blenker’s division. The camp I visited was filled with the black sheep of every nation under the sun. The word of command had to be given in four languages, and the officers were foreigners almost without exception.

In a party with whom we spent the afternoon, there were officers who had served in the Papal brigade, the army of Francis II, the Garibaldian expedition, the British and Spanish Legions, the wars of Baden, the Morocco campaign, and I know not where else beside.

It seems to me even now incredible at times, that that grand army, which I watched for days and weeks defiling through Washington, should not have swept all before it; and I confess, that I still believe its failure was due to a want of generalship. The sacred soil of Virginia seemed as imperfectly known to them as Ireland is known to myself; and they looked upon the excursion [to Second Manassas] with much the same sort of interest as I should do on a trip across St. George’s Channel.”

(Spectator of America, Edward Dicey, (originally published in 1863, “Six Months in the Federal States”), University of Georgia Press, 1989, pp. 146-151)

Virginia Invaded by Foreign Mercenaries

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