Turners and the Civil War

major bill

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#1
The turners were a German-American gymnastic club that was well establish in the United States by the start of the Civil War. A group of men dedicated to going to the gym and staying fit sounds innocent enough, but is this the whole story.

The turnvereine was started in Germany and soon was both dedicated to gymnastics but it was also a political movement with liberal ideals. Much can be said of the movement in the United State. The Turners supported the election of Abraham Lincoln.

I understand that the Turners provided the bodyguards for Lincoln at his inauguration. They were also important in providing leadership to the forming of ethnic German companies during the Civil War.

This is from 1866 and probably is what the Turners wore before the Civil War.
1024px-Milwaukee_Turnverein_1866.jpg
 

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major bill

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#3
The Turners and the Germans in general were strong Union supporters in the Northern States. The South did not have too many German immigrants except in Missouri and Texas. Both states had Turner clubs but I am not sure how strongly the German immigrants in Texas or Missouri supported the Confederacy. This is not to say no German immigrants living in the South supported the Confederacy, but as a gymnastic/political club it appears the Southern Turner clubs may have been a bit to liberal for Southern tastes.
 

donna

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#5
The American Turners was founded in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1848 by German Immigrants. Their motto is "A sound mind in a sound body".

A book on Cincinnati Germans in the Civil War was written by Gustav Tafel and was published in 1901. Tafel was one of the co-founders of the Cincinnati Turnverein and help organize Cincinnati's 9th Ohio Infantry known as the Turner regiment.

see: http://donheinrichtolzmann.net/civilwar.html
 
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#6
The Turners and the Germans in general were strong Union supporters in the Northern States. The South did not have too many German immigrants except in Missouri and Texas. Both states had Turner clubs but I am not sure how strongly the German immigrants in Texas or Missouri supported the Confederacy. This is not to say no German immigrants living in the South supported the Confederacy, but as a gymnastic/political club it appears the Southern Turner clubs may have been a bit to liberal for Southern tastes.
Many German immigrants in Texas were Unionists and there was a large massacre when German immigrant mrn tried to flee Confederate conscrption by going to Mexico. Some German immigrants became Unionist guerrillas.
Not to say some didn't willingly join the Confederate Army.
I don't have time right now but David Williams has more detail about the plight of German immigrants in Texas.
Leftyhunter
 

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