Chancellorsville and the Germans: Nativism, Ethnicity, and Civil War Memory

Chancellorsville and the Germans: Nativism, Ethnicity, and Civil War Memory

by Christian B. Keller
     
 

Often called Lee's greatest triumph, the battle of Chancellorsville decimated the Union Eleventh Corps, composed of large numbers of German-speaking volunteers. Poorly deployed, the unit was routed by StonewallJackson and became the scapegoat for the Northern defeat, blamed by many on the flightof German immigrant troops. The impact on America's large German

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Overview

Often called Lee's greatest triumph, the battle of Chancellorsville decimated the Union Eleventh Corps, composed of large numbers of German-speaking volunteers. Poorly deployed, the unit was routed by StonewallJackson and became the scapegoat for the Northern defeat, blamed by many on the flightof German immigrant troops. The impact on America's large German community was devastating. But there is much more to the story than that. Drawing for the first time on German-language newspapers, soldiers' letters, memoirs, and regimental records, Christian Keller reconstructs the battle and its aftermath from the German-American perspective, military and civilian. He offers a fascinating window into a misunderstood past, one where the German soldiers' valor has been either minimized or dismissed as cowardly. He critically analyzes the performance of the German regiments and documents the impact of nativism on Anglo-American and German-American reactions-and on German self-perceptions as patriots and Americans. For German-Americans, the ghost of Chancellorsville lingered long, and Keller traces its effects not only on ethnic identity, but also on the dynamics of inclusion andassimilation in American life.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...German American studies, which flourished a century ago and were nearly moribund fifty years later, flourish once again."-Robert W. Frizzell, Journal of American Ethnic History

"Keller has added a highly valuable and much-needed revisionist work to Civil War historiography and to the study of ethnicity in nineteenth-century America."-The Journal of Southern History

"A truly groundbreaking work of research and analysis."-Civil War Books & Authors

"Keller's finely-crafted study offers a wealth of insights into the Civil War . . ."-Civil War Book Review

". . . Superbly-written and detailed . . . Keller outlines with a clarity which few have done before him . . ."-Defense and Foreign Affairs Strategic Policy

"Chancellorsville and the Germans is an important corrective to the prejudiced charges against the 11th Corps and the Germans in the Battle of Chancellorsville. Showing by exhaustive research in primary sources that these accusations were unwarranted, he has finally laid to rest misinformation about the battle and the German-Americans."-Hans Trefousse

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780823226504
Publisher:
Fordham University Press
Publication date:
06/15/2007
Series:
North's Civil War Series
Edition description:
4
Pages:
244
Product dimensions:
9.10(w) x 6.30(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

CHRISTIAN B. KELLER is Associate Professor of Military History at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Ft. Belvoir, Virginia. He is co-author of Damn Dutch: Pennsylvania Germans.

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