Sunday, May 3, 2020

Why not hang every Dutchman captured?

This commentary is from the Cincinnati Enquirer of June 25, 1863, reprinted from a Tennessee newspaper, and likely refers to the failed Streight’s Raid. 

Southern News 
From the Knoxville Register June 12


Of late, in all the battles, and in all the recent incursions made by Federal cavalry, we have found the great mass of Northern soldiers to consist of Dutchmen. The plundering thieves captured by Forrest, who stole half the jewelry and watches in a dozen counties of Alabama, were immaculate Dutchmen. The national order (EDITOR’S NOTE:  perhaps the author meant “odor” but the story clearly said “order.”) of Dutchmen, as distinctive of the race as that which, constantly ascending to heaven, has distended the nostrils of the negro, is as unmistakable as that particular to a pole cat, an old pipe, or a lager-beer saloon. Crimes, thefts, and insults to the women of the South, invariably mark the course of these stinking bodies of animated sour kraut. Rosecrans himself is an unmixed Dutchman, an accursed race which has overrun the vast districts of the country of the North-west. 

It happens that we entertain a greater degree of respect for an Ethiopian in the ranks of the Northern armies then for an odiferous Dutchman, who can have no possible interest in this revolution. 

Why not hang every Dutchman captured? We will hereafter hang, or shoot, or imprison for life, all white men taken in command of negroes, and enslave the negroes themselves. This is not too harsh. No human being will assert the contrary. Why, then, should we not hang a Dutchman, who deserves infinitely less of our sympathy than Sambo. The live masses of beer, kraut, tobacco, and rotten cheese, which, on two legs and four, on foot and mounted, go prowling through the South, should be used to manure the sandy plains and barren hillsides of Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia.

Whenever a Dutch regiment adorn(s) the limbs of a Southern forest, daring cavalry raids into the South shall cease.

President Davis need not be specially consulted, and if an accident of this sort should occur to a plundering band like that captured by Forrest, we are not inclined to believe that our President would be greatly disgruntled. 


This may be the most remarkable Civil War newspaper article I have found. I keep thinking “wow!” every time I re-read it. I certainly know that anti-immigrant sentiment existed during the Civil War, just a few years after the Know Nothing/American Party/Nativist movement in the 1850s, but the harsh language, repeated insults, and non-stop stereotypes in this story somewhat shocked me when I first saw it. Maybe I have not studied this subject enough - I have seen immigrant soldiers in the Union Army referred to as “Lincoln’s hirelings” and, of course, ridicule of the performance of some foreign soldiers, such as at Chancellorsville, but I have not found a story quite like this. Especially noteworthy, in my view, are the comparisons to African-Americans, who certainly were not respected in the South. Could this writer have considered anything a worse insult than those comparisons? 

also wonder if any German-language newspapers reprinted this or similar articles.

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