Jews in the Civil War

Addressing the moral question of slavery.

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Thousands of Jews volunteered and many died on both sides of the conflict. An estimate by Congressman Simon Wolf placed the number in the Union forces at about 8,400 and in the Confederate forces at about 10,000. Other estimates differ, but it is clear that Jews fought on both sides in numbers greater than their percentage in the general population.

There were nine Jewish generals in the North and several in the South. Jews fought not only for their respective causes, but also for equal treatment for themselves. Six .Jewish soldiers in the Union army received the coveted Congressional Medal of Honor for their bravery. When the war ended, Jewish soldiers returned to their homes to rebuild their country and their lives.

In the North, two events galvanized the Jewish community at large during the war: the appointment of a Jewish chaplain to the military and General Grant's Order No. 11.

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Norman H. Finkelstein

Norman H. Finkelstein is a writer, editor and teacher. A former school librarian in the Brookline, Massachusetts Public Schools, he has been teaching children's literature and history courses at Hebrew College for over twenty-five years. He is the series editor for the JPS Guides series published by the Jewish Publication Society.