Articles and Reviews

Andreas Schumacher, "German-American Contributions to the Civil War," Newsletter of the Delaware Saengerbund & Library Association (February 2011)

Americans of German descent have served in the U.S. Army since 1775. A new book edited by Dr. Don Heinrich Tolzmann, the leading researcher in the field of German-American history, entitled "The Cincinnati Germans in the Civil War by Gustav Tafel" successfully examines the often overlooked fact of a long German line of officers and soldiers in the American Armed Forces. Col. Gustav Tafel (1830-1908), the author of the original German-language edition, was a native of Munich, Bavaria. In 1847, Tafel came to Cincinnati, Ohio, as an immigrant. "In Cincinnati", Tolzmann writes in the introduction to his English translation of Tafel's history, "he helped found the Cincinnati Turnverein, serving later as its president when the Civil War broke out. At that time, members of theTurnverein formed the 9th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment, which Tafel enthusiastically joined. Thereafter, he was appointed commander of the 106th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment, another Cincinnati German regiment." Elected to the Ohio State Legislature in 1865, Col. Tafel later served as mayor of Cincinnati. Tolzmann has dedicated more than 30 years of his life to study the contribution of Germans to American military and social life. His book provides an excellent source for all those who would like to learn more about the participation of German-Americans in the War Between the States and appeals to both the military historian as well as anybody interested in Civil War history in general. What distinguishes this book is the editor's clear style, the excellent annotations and bibliographical information as well as the reproduced images of German-American officers from archival collections which appear here for the first time. Dr. Tolzmann is the former director of the German-American Studies Program at the University of Cincinnati. For his outstanding services to the German-American cultural exchange he was awarded the German Federal Cross of Merit. Overall, the new edition of this rare historical source is an interesting documentation of the service of America's largest ethnic group in the sad conflict of the 1860s that was fought between cousins and brothers.

Andreas Schumacher

To order a copy of Dr. Tolzmann's book go to
or contact the author through his website at

Source: Newsletter of the Delaware Saengerbund & Library Association (February 2011)