Learning Lincoln On-line


(Topic 70:  Comparing the Armies of the North and the South and Generals Grant and Lee)


Return to this Activity Home Page

Visit the National Park Service Civil War Facts Site Here


Breakdown of the approximately 2.2 million Union soldiers
[Ethnic origin and nativity have been conflated inconsistently]:

From Wikepedia at  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Union_Army

Number Percent Origin
1,000,000 45.4 Native-born white Americans.
216,000 9.7 about 216,000 German  born.
210,000 9.5 African American. Half were freedmen who lived in the North, and half were ex-slaves from the South. They served under white officers in more than 160 "colored" regiments and in Federal regiments organized as the United States Colored Troops (USCT).
200,000 9.1 Irish  born
90,000 4.1 Dutch.
50,000 2.3 Canadian.
50,000 2.3 Born in England.
40,000 1.8 French or French Canadian. About half were born in the United States of America, the other half in Quebec .
20,000 0.9 Scandinavian(Norwegian, Swedish,Finnish,and Danish).
7,000   Italian 
7,000   Jewish 
6,000   Mexican 
5,000   Polish (many of whom served in the Polish Legion  of Brig. Gen. Włodzimierz Krzyżanowski )
4,000   Native Americans
    Several hundred of other various nationalities

Blacks in the Army

From Wikepedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_history_of_African_Americans_in_the_American_Civil_War

The inclusion of blacks as combat soldiers became a major issue. Eventually, it was realized, especially after the valiant effort of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry in the Battle of Fort Wagner,that blacks were fully able to serve as competent and reliable soldiers. This was partly due to the efforts of Robert Smalls , who, while still a slave, won fame by defecting from the Confederacy, and bringing a Confederate transport ship which he was piloting. He later met with Edwin Stanton , Secretary of War, to argue for including blacks in combat units. This led to the formation of the first combat unit for black soldiers, the 1st South Carolina Volunteers. Regiments for black soldiers were eventually referred to as United States Colored Troops . The blacks were paid less than white soldiers until late in the war and were, in general, treated harshly. Even after the end of the war, they were not permitted (by Sherman's order) to march in the great victory parade through Washington, DC. For information about African-American Troops in the Civil War, visit United States Colored Troops in the Civil War  United States Colored Troops in the Civil War at https://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/United_States_Colored_Troops_in_the_Civil_War


The Confederate Army Make-up

For comparison, the Confederate Army was not very diverse: 91% of Confederate soldiers were native born and only 9% were foreign-born, Irish being the largest group with others including Germans, French, Mexicans (though most of them simply happened to have been born when the Southwest was still part of Mexico), and British. Some Southern propaganda compared foreign-born soldiers in the Union Army to the hated Hessians  of the American Revolution . Also, a relatively small number of Native Americans (Cherokee , Chickasaw , Choctaw , and Creek ) fought for the Confederacy.


16th President Army of Northern Virginia Home Page

16th President Army of the Potomac Page

 Learning On-Line Home Page