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For minorities as for other Americans the Civil War was an opportunityto prove their valor and loyalty Among the first mustered into the UnionArmy were a De Kalb regiment of German American clerks theGaribakdi Guards made up of Italian Americans a Polish Legion andhundreds of Irish American youths form Boston and New York But inOhio and Washington DC African American volunteers were turnedaway from recruiting stations and told This is a white mans war Somecitizens questioned the loyalty of immigrants who lived in crowded citytenements until an Italian American from Brooklyn turned that around Inthe New York Senate Democrat Francis Spinola had been a vigorousfoe of Republican policies and Lincoln But now he swore his loyalty withstirring words This is my flag which I will follow and defend Thisspeech gave great assurance that the masses in the great cities weredevoted to the Union and ready to enlist for its defense More than400000 European immigrants fought for the Union including more than17000 Germans and more than 15000 Irish Many saw their services asa proud sacrifice The first officer to die for the Union was CaptainConstatin Blandowski one of many immigrants who earlier had fought forfreedom in Europe and then joined Lincolns army Born in Upper Silesiaand trained at Dresden Germany he was a veteran of democraticstruggles - a Polish revolt at Krakow the Polish Legions battles againstAustria and the Hungarian fight for independence Some nationalitiescontributed more than their share of Union soldiers Some immigrantsearned the Congressional Medal of Honor Italian American officer Louisdi Cesnola was the Colonel of the 4th Cavalry Regiment At AldieVirginia in 1863 he earned the Medal of Honor and was appointed ageneral He charged unarmed at the foe read his citation rallied his menuntil desperately wounded and taken prisoner in action In 1879Cesnola became director of New Yorks Metropolitan Museum of ArtThe museum then became wrote a critic a monument to his energyenterprise and rare executive skill Italian American privates also wonthe
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