Chancellorsville and the Civil War in German American Memory

Christian B. Keller

in Chancellorsville and the Germans

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print June 2007 | ISBN: 9780823226504
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823234899 | DOI:

Series: The North's Civil War

Chancellorsville and the Civil War in             German American Memory

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Two important issues occupied the thoughts of German Americans in the postwar decades, especially those who had lived through the Civil War: the memory of the war and Americanization. For the veterans of the Eleventh Corps, their comrades from the western armies, and German American intellectuals, these two themes were inextricably related. Try as they might, it proved impossible to detach the memory of the war from the idea of assimilation. The specter of Chancellorsville haunted their celebrations of the war. What they had endured at the hands of nativism made them naturally reluctant to jump into the melting pot. In the postwar period the German-born wanted all other Americans to respect what they had done for the country and view them as equal citizens, but most did not want to relinquish their Germanness. Their ethnic consciousness remained high, and because of that they would become more American only on their own terms and in their own good time.

Keywords: German Americans; Americanization; Eleventh Corps; assimilation; Chancellorsville; Civil War; nativism; ethnic consciousness

Chapter.  10142 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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