In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

3l6CIVIL WAR HISTORY There are helpful endnotes and an extensive bibliography and index. These features will assist genealogists, and McCaslin has done a great service to local historians. Yet the book is not a full account of all aspects of the Civil War and North Carolina. Although there is a picture of a North Carolina soldier and his wife, women are hardly present in the book. African Americans soldiers are mentioned and included in photographs, but there are sparse references to the experience of North Carolina slaves during the war. The North Carolina home front and the economic problems caused by the war receive little attention. This book will appeal to Civil War buffs, North Carolina historians, and libraries with interests in either area. It is well conceived, and the writing and research enhances an impressive collection of photographs. Peter C. Murray Methodist College Melting Pot Soldiers: The Union 's Ethnic Regiments. By William L. Burton. (2d ed., New York: Fordham University Press, 1998. Pp. xvi, 282. $32.50, cloth; $19.95, paper.) The republication of William L. Burton 's Melting Pot Soldiers comes at an appropriate time. The debate about the validity or falsity of the idea ofthe Melting Pot is as lively today as it was in 1988 (reviewed in CWH, Dec. 1988, pp. 359-60) when this book was first published, and Fordham University Press is to be congratulated on including it in its "The North's Civil War" Series. As the author himself states in his introduction to this edition, he welcomes the opportunity to "reach a new and wider audience" (xi). Professor Burton's main point is the contention that the ethnic units of the Civil War, far from delaying assimilation, actually hastened it. The very creation of ethnic regiments showed the lack of success of the nativists, and soldiers in ethnic regiments behaved much as did their comrades in "American" units; they enlisted for the same reasons and had the same concerns. Burton's justified stress upon the multiple factors inducing enlistments in ethnic as in other regiments, as well as his careful assessment of different regiments, not only substantiates this contention but stresses that ethnicity was often merely an added matter of wartime importance. And his thoroughness of analysis of different regiments tends to bear out his thesis. Recent immigrants, like older Americans, fought for the Union, for financial gain, and for adventure. The author is mainly, though not exclusively, concerned with German and Irish regiments. As these two nationalities constituted the largest group of immigrants in the United States at the time of the Civil War, this emphasis isjustified . Yet both of these units bickered with each other and among themselves, much as others did; and if many of their leaders used the ethnic approach in order to further their careers, the ordinary soldiers did not. They often fought well, earned the respect of fellow soldiers, and contributed, at least temporarily, book reviews317 to the decline of nativism. And what was true of the Germans and Irish also applied to the smaller number of Scandinavian and other immigrant regiments. These points are well taken, although it is to be regretted that Professor Burton did not rely more heavily on foreign-language newspapers and several secondary works of importance to his subject. Some of these are cited in his bibliography without evidence of their having been consulted, while others, like Jorg Nagler's Fremont contra Lincoln, are not mentioned at all. It is also surprising that little is said about the tribulations of the Eleventh Corps with its German units. And the omission of a consideration of the black troops is to be regretted. The appearance of a second edition has given the author an opportunity to correct a few minor errors, which he did. However, he failed to remedy such mistakes as the reference to a Prussian province of Lithuania, which never existed , and to Marcy Tweed, whose name was William M. Tweed. But for a detailed study ofthe ethnic regiments, this book is indispensable and will certainly continue to be an excellent supplement to Ellen Lonn's classic Foreigners in the Union Army and Navy. It deserves to be widely read...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 316-317
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.