Thursday, June 9, 2016

Booknotes: Sons of the White Eagle in the American Civil War

New Arrival:
Sons of the White Eagle in the American Civil War: Divided Poles in a Divided Nation by Mark F. Bielski (Casemate, 2016).

When it comes to Civil War connections with non-Anglo Europe, two very large groups of contributors (the Irish, and to a lesser extent the Germans) dominate the literature. Now it is the turn of Poles to grab some of the spotlight. Mark Bielski's book features nine transplanted Poles who served in the Union and Confederate armies.
"The first group had fought in the 1830 war for freedom from the Russian Empire. The European revolutionary struggles of the 1840’s molded the next generation. The two of the youngest generation came of age just as the Civil War began, entered military service as enlisted men and finished as officers. Of the group, four sided with the North and four with the South, and the other began in the Confederate cavalry and finished fighting for the Union side. All but one came from aristocratic backgrounds."
Most readers will have at least heard of Adam Gurowski, Wlodzimierz Kryzanowski, Joseph Karge, and perhaps Valery Sulakowski, but Bielski's book also directs our attention toward more obscure figures like Gaspard Tochman, Ignatius Szymanski, Ludwik Zychlinski, Peter Kiolbassa, and Leon Jastremski. If you have a Civil War friend whose last name ends in -ski or -wicz, you now have a great gift idea.

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