Immigrant Women in the Settlement of Missouri

By Robyn Burnett; Ken Luebbering | Go to book overview

Chapter 10
Women and the Civil War

The Civil War brought deep divisions and great upheaval to life in Missouri. Nearly 140,000 men from Missouri— more than from any other state in the nation—fought in the war, 109,000 for the Union and 30,000 for the Confederacy. The women of Missouri, including recent immigrants, were also affected by these events. Many American-born Missouri residents, especially those living outside St. Louis, had come from slaveholding states such as Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and North Carolina. Southern sympathizers were very politically influential; among them was Governor Claiborne Fox Jackson. Many other Americanborn residents and most of the state's considerable number of foreign-born residents were opposed to slavery and secession from the Union.

St. Louis was Missouri's Union stronghold, but families and neighbors there as elsewhere in the state were divided in their allegiances. Nearly all Germans in the city and a large portion of the Irish opposed secession. Nine of the ten regiments of Union volunteers raised in St. Louis were primarily German. William Faherty says that most of St. Louis’s poor Irish were pro-Union, but neighborhood rivalries with the Germans had led some of them to join the Minutemen, a pro-southern military group, and thus they found themselves drawn into the state militia at the beginning of the war.

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