German-Americans and the Eleventh Corps

German-Americans and the Eleventh Corps (HM1C2I)

Location: Stafford, VA 22554 Stafford County
Country: United States of America

N 38° 23.517', W 77° 24.511'

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Inscription
A large number of the soldiers who camped in and built the roads and fortifications preserved in this park were German-Americans. Most studies of ethnicity in the Civil War have focused on Irish or African-American soldiers, yet German-Americans were the largest ethnic group in federal service, enlisting in numbers beyond their proportion to the overall population. In the Army of the Potomac, these immigrant soldiers outnumbered those of Irish descent two to one. Most came from New York and Pennsylvania; smaller numbers from Ohio, Illinois, Missouri and Wisconsin. Many participated in the early western battles of Wilson's Creek, Carthage and Pea Ridge, where General Franz Sigel, who later briefly commanded in this area, was hailed as a hero. In the east, General Ludwig Blenker and his "German Division" were lauded for covering the Union retreat from 1st Manassas. The public's perception of German-American soldiers, however, changed drastically after the Battle of Chancellorsville. There the 11th Corps, which contained a majority of German-speaking soldiers, under Major General Oliver Otis Howard, a West Point graduate from Maine, was flanked and decisively defeated by Stonewall Jackson's veteran Confederate infantrymen.

After Chancellorsville, German-American soldiers became the scapegoats of the failed campaign even though numerous Eleventh Corps soldiers had tried to warn Union Generals Hooker, Howard, and Devens that Confederates were massing on their flank. Captain Hubert Dilger of the 1st Ohio Light Artillery, Battery I, was told at Hooker's headquarters to "tell his yarn at Eleventh Corps headquarters," where he was also dismissed. Dejected, he returned to his battery and prepared it for action. Dr. Christian Keller of the U.S> Army War College, in a recently published book titled Chancellorsville and the Germans, stated that, "It is not an exaggeration to say the North's German-born population net got over what happened in the Virginia woods in May of 1863." In those woods, approximately 8,800 poorly deployed 11th Corps soldiers were attacked on their right and rear by 26,000 Confederate soldiers. In the aftermath of the Chancellorsville campaign, no single man would be blamed for the battle; instead the blame fell on an entire corps, and, by proxy, German-Americans. Many years later, Major General Darius Couch, a West Pointer and former Commander of the Army of the Potomac's Second Corps at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, wrote about the flank attack. In his summary, he noted that, "It can be emphatically stated that no Corps in the army, surprised as the Eleventh Corps was at this time, could have held its ground under similar circumstances." Thirty years after the baffle, Captain Hubert Dilger received the Medal of Honor for his actions at Chancellorsville.

(sidebar)
"Exclusively German" 11th Corps Regiments
(21 May, 1863)

82nd Illinois
29th New York
41st New York
45th New York
54th New York
58th New York
68th New York
27th Pennsylvania
74th Pennsylvania
75th Pennsylvania
26th Wisconsin

Mixed Nationality 11th Corps Regiments
(21 May, 1863)

119th New York
107th Ohio
73rd Pennsylvania
153rd Pennsylvania
Source: OR, Series I, Vol 25, #39

(captions)
41st New York Infantry

82nd Illinois Infantry

Brig. Gen. Charles Devens, Jr.
Commander, 1st Division, XI Corps

Brig. Gen. Charles Devens, Jr.
Commander, 1st Division, XI Corps

Brig. Gen. Adolf von Steinwehr
Commander, 2nd Division, XI Corps

Maj. Gen. Carl Schurz
Commander, 3rd Division, XI Corps

Captain Hubert Dilger
1st Ohio Light Artillery, Battery I
Details
HM NumberHM1C2I
Tags
Year Placed2013
Placed ByStafford County
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Tuesday, October 21st, 2014 at 6:59am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 289654 N 4252050
Decimal Degrees38.39195000, -77.40851667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 38° 23.517', W 77° 24.511'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds38° 23' 31.02" N, 77° 24' 30.66" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)540, 703, 202
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 25 Unnamed Road, Stafford VA 22554, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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