Why Did Scandinavians Volunteer for the Union Army during the Civil War?


The Battle of Chickamauga

One of the more important legacies of the Civil War was the many innovations that it introduced to the United States. For instance, the Civil War was one of the first wars in world history where rifles were used extensively. The telegraph was used to relay messages between commanders and railroads were used to transport troops to and from the front. Truly, the Civil War was one of innovation, but not all innovations employed during the war were technical.

The formations of regiments during the Civil War, by both the Union and Confederate armies, followed a template that was used during the Revolutionary War whereby regiments were created in each state. Soldiers from Tennessee would generally fight in a Tennessee regiment, soldiers from New York in New York regiments, etc. But the United States had already changed significantly, regarding demographics, by the time the Civil War began in 1861. A large number of European immigrants who came to the United States in the decades during the Antebellum Period made creating army regiments a bit more complicated.

Instead of just organizing soldiers according to their home states, the Union army, and to a lesser extent the Confederate army, also organized their fighting men according to their ethnicities and national origin. Most of the Union’s ethnic regiments were Irish and German, but Scandinavian immigrants volunteered in great enough numbers that they were able to form several companies and even one complete regiment – the 15th Wisconsin Volunteer Regiment. The reasons why Scandinavian immigrants volunteered to fight in the Union army were as diverse as the army itself, but the primary reasons were ones that can be seen in previous and later periods of American history.

Read the rest of the article at DailyHistory.org. 

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