I just finished the autobiographical book “Unter dem Sternenbanner” by Carl Schurz, his memoirs of the years 1852 to 1869. For those interested in history it offers some insights into the Americal political system of those years. What struck me most was his account of the founding of the Republican party in 1854 from the abolitionalist movement. He joined the movement and the party to become one of her leading propagandists.
Karl Schurz was born in Liblar, a small town in the Prussian Rhine province. He became a radical demokrat, got involved in the March revolution of 1848, and finally joined the revolutionary army as an lieutenant to the artillery commander. Here he became acquainted with Franz Sigel, Alexander Schimmelfennig, Fritz Anneke, Ludwig Blenker, names you might recognise as military leaders in the U.S. civil war. All those men got their first military experience fighting several battles against the Prussian army in the Palatinate and in Baden in 1848/49.
After the downfall of the Baden revolution he fled Germany, and after some turbulent adventures he finally emigrated to the U.S., settling in Watertown in Wisconsin, the home to many German-speaking settlers in those days.
During the U.S. Civil War he was commissioned brigadier general and later promoted to major general. In his memoirs he gives vivid accouts on how he experienced the Second Battle of Bull Run as a brigade commander and the battles of Chancellorsville and Gettysburg as a division commander in the XI Corps. Especially his account on the battle of Chancellorsville I can only hotly recommend to anyone intersted in ACW wargames.
Schurz was quite proud of the fighting prowess and the courage of his fellow German born countrymen. Remember that all immigrants would mostly have passed their 2 or 3 years of military service in their German native country. If you want to learn more about German volunteers in the Union army can find a lot of information on the internet.