As I begin the fifth year of researching and writing The Immigrants’ Civil War I wanted to institute an annual award for an academic, author, public historian, scholar, or artist who has contributed to our understanding of immigrants during the Civil War Era. It is tough to honor just one person each year because so many people are laboring to tell the long-ignored stories of immigrants in the mid-1800s. Our first annual award goes to someone who has been working tirelessly for more than two decades to uncover and translate the writings of immigrant soldiers who served in the Civil War.
Joseph Reinhart was not trained as an historian. A native of Louisville, Kentucky, he is a retired Certified Public Accountant. Mr. Reinhart is the author of five books about German soldiers in the Union army. The books include extensive collections of letters and other materials written by immigrants in the 1860s that Mr. Reinhart has rescued from obscurity and translated into English. The books he has authored or co-authored are A German Hurrah!: Civil War Letters of Friedrich Bertsch and Wilhelm Stangel 9th Ohio Infantry; A History of the 6th Kentucky Volunteer Infanty U.S.: The Boys Who Feared No Noise; August Willich’s Gallant Dutchmen: Civil War Letters from the 32nd Indiana Infantry; Two Germans In The Civil War; and most recently Yankee Dutchmen Under Fire: Civil War Letters from the 82nd Illinois Infantry. Before he published them, these vital primary sources were virtually unknown to English-speaking researchers.
Mr. Reinhart gives a voice to the long-dead immigrants of the Civil War Era. Their reasons for risking their lives to preserve the United States, their experiences of discrimination, and their hopes for the future all come through in the books of Mr. Reinhart. In addition, Joseph Reinhart maintains a web presence which looks at Know Nothing violence in Kentucky in the 1850s.
For his scholarship in a neglected field, I am proud to present the first ever The Immigrants’ Civil War Award to Joseph Reinhart.