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Interpreting the Evidence

Civil War Muster Roll Abstract for Juan Hernandez, c. 1864

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Era:

    Civil War and Reconstruction (1850 - 1877)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Upper Elementary
    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:

    Civil War
    Latinos

  • 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 Juan Hernandez, c. 1864 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
Civil War Muster Roll Abstract detailing the service of Juan Hernandez, 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 Juan Hernandez was a important member of American society.
Historical Challenges
Research the involvement of Hispanics in another war the United States fought, such as the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, or the Gulf War.
Write a news article about the Battle of Spotsylvania or Gettysburg as if you were an eyewitness.
 
Interdisciplinary Connections
English Language Arts: Write an epitaph for this Civil War soldier.
Math: Look up the ethnic composition of the 39th New York Infantry. Make a bar graph depicting the information you find.