Readers of The Immigrants’ Civil War know that German immigrants in the North were outspoken opponents of slavery and were extremely active in recruiting German regiments for the Union. But there were Germans who opposed the war, and the story of Town Line, New York, is the most extreme.
Town Line is a small farming hamlet in between Buffalo and Rochester. Back in 1861, it was dominated by recently arrived German Lutherans and settlers from Vermont. In other parts of the country during that period, German immigrants would have opposed slavery and voted accordingly, but in Town Line, the Germans, frightened by local Know Nothings, joined the Democratic Party and opposed Lincoln’s election. Many of them had left Germany to escape army conscription and they were afraid they would soon be drafted into Lincoln’s army.
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