Hungarian Émigrés in the American Civil War

A History and Biographical Dictionary

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About the Book

After the suppression of the Hungarian Revolution in 1848 and 1849, thousands of Hungarians fled to the United States, an influx dubbed the Kossuth Emigration after failed revolutionary leader Lajos Kossuth. During the American Civil War, many of these Kossuth émigrés joined the ranks of the Union or Confederate armies. The book explores their motivations and the military role they played, often challenging the hero-making mechanisms of traditional ethnic history-writing that has gone before.
The lengthy biographical dictionary of all Hungarian-born Civil War participants fills a longstanding gap in Civil War genealogy. With a deft blend of modern Civil War studies, military history, migration and ethnic studies, and historical memory, this study makes a significant contribution to the history of Hungarian-Americans and the often overlooked subject of non-nationals in the Civil War.

About the Author(s)

István Kornél Vida is an assistant professor of U.S. history at the University of Debrecen in Hungary and an Alexander von Humboldt postdoctoral fellow at the John F. Kennedy Institute in Berlin, Germany.

Bibliographic Details

István Kornél Vida
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 268
Bibliographic Info: 14 photos, 15 tables, appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6562-0
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8883-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      ix

Preface      1

Introduction: Martyrs of Freedom      5

Part I: History

Chapter One. “To These Shores I Was Driven by Tyranny”: Hungarian Emigration to the United States in the 1850s      15

Chapter Two. “Extra Hungariam Non Est Vita, Si Est Vita, Non Est Ita”: Kossuth Émigrés in the United States      29

Chapter Three. “To See This Great Country United Again”: Hungarians’ Motivations to Enlist in the Union and Confederate Armies      50

Chapter Four. Taking Up Arms in the Civil War      63

Chapter Five. The Triumvirate: the Civil War Careers of Asboth, Stahel and Zagonyi      79

Chapter Six. An International Fraud: Colonel Béla Estván      100

Chapter Seven. “‘Furreners,’ Yankees, and ‘Nigger Lovers’”: Slavery and Hungarians in the Colored Regiments      110

Chapter Eight. The Aftermath: Kossuth Émigrés in the Post–Civil War Years      120

Part II: Biographical Dictionary      131

Appendix: Misspellings and Anglicized Versions of Hungarian Names in American Sources      211

Notes      213

Bibliography      238

Index      253

Book Reviews & Awards

Grand Prize, Best Publication of the Year, University of Debrecen, Hungary
“an in-depth look at the impact [emigrating Hungarians] had on the war…covers all angles”—ARBA; “a scholarly and dispassionate look at the role of the Hungarian emigration in the Civil War…the author is to be commended for this very readable and informative volume”—AHEA: E-journal of the American Hungarian Educators Association; “Hungarian Émigrés in the Civil War processes a field that was previously not covered on an academic level. It disproves many previously held myths about Hungarian involvement in the Civil War. The book is based on solid research…recommended”—Eger Journal of American Studies; “a significant contribution to modern scholarship…breaks new ground and lays the foundation for future studies of the Hungarian-American community”—Hungarian Journal of English and American Studies; “hopefully, Professor Vida will continue to devote his attention to this topic and will write additional books of the same high caliber.”—Hungarian Studies Review.