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Jews and the Civil WarA Reader$
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Jonathan D. Sarna and Adam D. Mendelsohn

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780814740910

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814740910.001.0001

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From Peddler to Regimental Commander in Two Years

From Peddler to Regimental Commander in Two Years

The Civil War Career of Major Louis A. Gratz

(p.253) 9 From Peddler to Regimental Commander in Two Years
Jews and the Civil War

Jacob Rader Marcus

NYU Press

This chapter examines some of the advantages—and even attractions—of enlistment for recent immigrants to fight in the Civil War by focusing on the military career of Louis A. Gratz, a Jewish immigrant who arrived in the United States from Germany in early 1861. It first describes Gratz's struggle as a peddler before finding rapid advancement in the Union Army. It then considers how the Union Army acted as an avenue for Gratz's integration: Gratz's period of military service improved his command of English, provided rough socialization in American ways, deepened his sense of belonging, and broadened his postwar prospects. At the end of the war, Gratz settled in Knoxville, his old headquarters, opened a legal practice, and married Elizabeth Twigg Bearden, the daughter of a gentile fellow officer. These developments reflect how the Civil War transformed the trajectory of Gratz's life.

Keywords:   immigrants, Civil War, military career, Louis A. Gratz, Germany, Union Army, military service, Knoxville, Elizabeth Twigg Bearden

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