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Interpreting the Evidence

Civil War Muster Roll Abstract for Peter Sanches (Pedro Sanchez), c. 1865

  • 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

  • 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 Peter Sanches (Pedro Sanchez), c. 1865 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
Civil War Muster Roll Abstract detailing the service of Peter Sanches (Pedro Sanchez), ca. 1865.
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 Peter Sanches was a important member of American society.
Historical Challenges
Research the 39th New York Infantry and find out what battles the unit fought in. How many casualties did this unit suffer during the Civil War?
Why would foreign-born soldiers fight in the American Civil War?
Interdisciplinary Connections
Science: What type of training did Civil War doctors have? What tools did they use to operate on their patients?
Science: Why did so many soldiers die of disease during the Civil War?
Art: From his description in the record, draw a sketch of what you think Peter Sanches looked like.