The World Fights the Civil War

Garibaldi Letter – SC1793
Michael Corcoran book – F8342 C793c


Although the Civil War was a massive insurgency, the world paid close attention. Foreigners and foreign-born Americans chose sides and sought to influence its outcome. These two objects testify to that participation.

The letter is from Italian freedom fighter Giuseppe Garibaldi to former Springfield newspaperman and then-consul in Vienna, Theodore Canisius. It was part of a long, ultimately fruitless dialog between the Lincoln administration and Garibaldi over him potentially assuming a command role in the United States Army, particularly because of his opposition to slavery. The book is a contemporary biography of Irish nationalist Michael Corcoran. Having immigrated to the United States in 1849, he joined the Regular Army and during the Civil War served as colonel of the famed Irish 69th New York Militia. He was instrumental in persuading Irish Americans to join the United States military, led the 69th at Bull Run where he was taken prisoner, and later tragically died during a horse-riding accident in 1863.




I am a prisoner, and dangerously wounded therefore it is impossible for me to dispose of myself.

I believe however when my imprisonment shall cease, and my wound heal, that the favorable opportunity shall come in which I will be able to satisfy my desire to serve the Great American Republic of which I am a citizen and which today fights for universal freedom.

I have the honor to be.

Very Respectfully,

G. Garibaldi


Theodore Canisius

U.S. Consul at Vienna


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