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Interpreting the Evidence

Civil War Muster Roll Abstract for Emanuel Gomez, c. 1864

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Eras:

    Civil War and Reconstruction (1850 - 1877)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Upper Elementary
    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:

    Civil War

  • Primary Source Types:

    Written Document

  • Regions:

    New York City
    New York State

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Civil War Muster Roll Abstract for Emanuel Gomez, c. 1864 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
Civil War Muster Roll Abstract detailing the service of Emanuel Gomez in the Civil War, ca. 1864.
Historical Context
Civil War service records typically show the rank of the soldier, the unit he fought in, the date he enlisted, and when he was discharged.  Some may also identify the battles in which the soldier fought.

Many Hispanic soldiers fought with the 39th New York Infantry. This was an all-foreign-born unit consisting of three companies of Germans, three of Hungarians, one of Swiss, one of Italians, one of Frenchmen, and one of Spaniards and Portuguese.  The unit was nicknamed “Lincoln’s Foreign Legion.”  The 39th was involved in many major engagements during the Civil War, including Gettysburg, the Wilderness, and Spotsylvania.  The men of the unit were honored for their service at Gettysburg and are remembered with a monument placed on Cemetery Ridge.  

The inscription of the monument reads as follows:

Front: 39th New York Infantry (Garibaldi Guards), 3D Brig. 3D Div. 2D Corps.

Reverse: This regiment at about 7 o’clock P.M. July 2, 1863 being ordered to support General Sickles’ line charged and drove the enemy recapturing the guns and equipment of Battery 1, 5th U.S. Artillery. A stone tablet marks the place where this incident occurred.

Left Side: This regiment composed of 4 companies held this position July 2 and 3, 1863. Right Side: Casualties: Killed 15, Wounded 80, Total 95.

Some members of the 39th were held prisoner at the infamous Florence Stockade.  For further reading on this, and a list of the soldiers who were held in Florence Stockade, see the Resources section below.

Essential Question
How do immigrants become a part of a new society?
Check for Understanding
Summarize the information found in this document and explain how Emanuel Gomez was a important member of American society.
Historical Challenges
It is said that in the Civil War, “It was safer in battle than it was in the camps.” What made the camps so dangerous, in terms of disease?
There are many diaries of Civil War soldiers that have been published. Read one of them and compare that soldier’s experiences with those of Private Gomez and the 39th New York Infantry.
Interdisciplinary Connections
English Language Arts: Write a soldier’s journal about his experience fighting in the Civil War. Was he drafted or did he volunteer? What battles did he fight in? What kind of food did he eat? Was he injured?
Math: Research the number of soldiers killed in battle and those who died of disease during the Civil War. Make bar graphs or pie charts of your findings for both the North and the South.