Ethnic Origins of the Enlisted Members of the 1st Regiment


The first regiment is that which enlisted in 1861 and for the most part left the regiment when their enlistments ended in the latter part of 1864.  Bret has found in the regimental books the following about the men that enlisted in the regiment.



I have completed a review of the origins of the soldiers of the "old" regiment (AKA the "1st German Regiment"). At least 1,072 men (not including officers) served in the regiment between September 1861 and September 1864, and were overwhelmingly new immigrants from Germany. The breakout of where the soldiers were born is as follows:


                     Pennsylvania:                                        183

                     Other U.S. states:                                     23

                                         subtotal:                                            206


                     Baden:                                                    99

                     Bavaria:                                                  87

                     Hannover:                                               31

                     Hesse (inc. both Darmstadt & Kassel):       153

                     Nassau:                                                    10

                     Prussia:                                                  128

                     Saxony:                                                   52

                     Wurttemberg:                                       120 

                     Other German states:                              41

                                         subtotal:                                            721


                     Austria:                                                      8

                     France (Alsace/Elsa?):                              33 (28)

                     Ireland:                                                    8

                     Switzerland:                                             64

                     Other countries:                                         8

                                         subtotal:                                            121


                     Unknown where born:                   24

                                                                     Total:                       1,072



To some extent this chart understates the German nature of the regiment, as most of the U.S.-born soldiers were children of German immigrants, and the Austrians, Alsatians, Swiss, and two "Spaniards" were all Germans as well.  Of the non-Germans or non-German-Americans, almost all were conscripts (or substitutes) who joined the regiment in 1863 and 1864.


The most out-of-place individual in my mind was Private Jerry Freel, a 24-year-old immigrant from County Donegal ("Dunnagall"), Ireland, who enlisted into the regiment in Pittsburgh in September 1861. Freel was the only Irishman to serve in the regiment from the beginning and I can't figure out how or why he would have done so. I can only suppose he was a friend of one or more of the German-Americans who enlisted into Company G, which was dominated by south German Catholics (with 8 Alsatians, 1 Austrian, 14 Badeners, 10 Bavarians, 15 Wurttembergers, and 4 Swiss) -- and at least some of the 19 German-Americans in Company G were children of south German immigrants; Joseph Neumeyer's family, for instance, came to America in 1835 from the village of Schollbrunn in Baden. Unfortunately, Private Freel was killed at Gettysburg and he appears to have had no descendants.