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American Civil War: The Italians and the Foreign Experience


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This thesis aims to explain the historical context and the reasons that led numerous foreign soldiers to enlist in the Union and Confederate armies during the American Civil War and to illustrate their war experience. It will consist of four main chapters, starting from the American Civil War's historical context, causes, and consequences. Thus, it will explain the foreigners' role in the war, starting with the Germans and Irish. Finally, it will illustrate the Italians' contribution starting from their background, the evolution of the migration, and the main Italian characters before the war. Then, it will describe the Italians' war experience in "Blue and Gray." The focus will be on the main Union Italians' military unit, the 39th Infantry regiment, analyzing origins, actions, and fate. Concerning the Gray, the focus will be on the multiple units where Italians fought, including the experience of the soldier John Garibaldi, whose forty letters represent an important legacy of the Italian Confederate experience. The thesis will demonstrate that foreigners were not decisive to the Civil War's outcomes, but they largely contributed to the Union victory. The Germans, Irish, and Italians made a large effort to preserve the US as a single nation. At the end of the Civil War, they offered a significant numerical contribution, and many families mourned their fathers, husband, and sons. The United States compensated them. However, the price they paid was extremely high.



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