The Emancipation Proclamation only freed slaves in states taking part in the rebellion
he 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment was the first black regiment recruited in the
North. Col. Robert Gould Shaw, who led the regiment, was killed in a Union attack of
Fort Wagner. The Confederates stripped his body and threw him into a mass grave, along
with the bodies of the African American soldiers who had been killed. When Gould's
father, a wealthy Massachusetts abolitionists, found out how his son had been buried, he
said: "the poor benighted wretches thought they were heaping indignities upon his dead
body; but the act recoils upon them .
.. We can imagine no holier place than in which he
is." Sgt. William H. Carney, of the 54th Massachusetts, became the first black man to win
the Congressional Medal of Honor. Lincoln himself noted that the Union forces might
have had to negotiate a peace with the Confederacy if the black soldiers had not taken
part in the war effort.
Conditions for African American soldiers were poor. Until 1864, they were paid less than
their white colleagues.
Many Chinese immigrants traveled to America to escape the British Opium wars. During
the Civil War years, many Chinese Americans were working in mines, building railroads
or laboring on farms.
German Americans played a significant role in the Civil War. Many German Americans,
especially those with liberal political views, abhorred the institution of slavery
Early in 1861, newly-arrived German immigrants were one of the largest groups to form
volunteer units. Many of these troops and officers had obtained fighting experience in
Europe. Two of the most prominent people organizing these troops were Louis Blenker
and Julius Stahel. Blenker had led troops in the German revolution of 1848, while Stahel
had fought in the unsuccessful bid for Hungarian independence from Germany. The two
men recruited troops for the 1st German Rifles (8th New York regiment). Blenker led a
German brigade at the First Battle of Bull Run in 1861. By October of 1861, the War
Department organized several German regiments into "Blenker's Division." As with Irish
Americans, the patriotic participation of German Americans helped ease their acceptance
into mainstream culture.
During the Civil War, the number and fervor of Irish Americans fighting for the Union
helped ease their acceptance into American society. The issue of national unity was what
inspired the Irish American community, rather than any widespread concern over slavery.
rish units fought to declare their American patriotism, while proudly proclaimed their
Irish roots and displaying slogans and items to that effect. The "Irish Brigade," a
collection of New York, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania regiments, was the most famous
of these "Fighting Irish."
After the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, however, the Civil War was increasingly
perceived as a war against slavery, rather than a war for the Union. This made it