A large army was needed at that point to protect the Government’s interests, when it had practically no available forces. There was no law under which it could be organized on the spot. No man could be made to serve. No pay for service was assured, or even promised. The army, however, was created by the voluntary and patriotic action of its members. Nearly a dozen full regiments were organized and equipped. Nine tenths of their members were Germans. They did not wait for hostilities to begin. Foreseeing the emergency near at hand, they organized into companies and regiments, and put themselves on a war footing before a blow had been struck or a shot had been fired. They met by night to drill in factory lofts, in recreation halls, and in whatever other places were most available, the words of command being generally delivered in German. The writer has a lively recollection of the difficulties involved in trying to learn military evolutions from instructors speaking a language he did not understand.
Many of the Germans of Missouri had seen service in the Old World. They had served under Sigel in the struggle of 1848. They found themselves under Sigel again. It was with the step and bearing of veterans that they marched (the writer was an eye-witness) in May of 1861, only a few days after Sumter had been fired on, to open the military ball in the West at Camp Jackson, near St. Louis.
The same people went with Lyon to the State capital, from which the Rebel officials were driven, never to return. They were with Lyon at Wilson’s Creek, and with him many of them laid down their lives on that bloody field. They were wherever hard fighting was to be done in that part of the country. The writer believes he is correct in saying they furnished more men to the Government’s service than any other numerically equal body of citizens. So large was their representation in the Union’s forces in that region, that the Rebels were accustomed to speak of the Union soldiers as “the Dutch.”
The fact that the Germans were fighting for an adopted government makes their loyalty more conspicuous. What they did was not from a love of war, but because they were Abolitionists. They were opposed to slavery. They owned no slaves. They wanted the Government sustained, because they believed that meant the end of slaveholding. They supported Fremont largely because of his freedom proclamation.
And here the writer, before closing his work, wants to say something about Fremont. He believes no man in this country was made the victim of greater injustice than he was.