I stumbled across an interesting site yesterday, Jewish-History.com, which includes quite a bit of information about a little researched topic: Jews in the Civil War. It was the database on this site that drew me to it, containing the names of “over 7,000 Jewish-Americans who fought on both sides of the Civil War.” The data was recorded by Lynn Berkowitz, who manages the site, from the original source, an 1895 book entitled The American Jew as Patriot, Soldier, and Citizen.
Fortunately for us, this book is available to read in its entirety on OpenLibrary.org and Google Books. It offers quite a bit of information on the subject, though it brought up a lot of interesting questions as well. How was this data gathered, what were the authors sources? How do these records compare with the data of the Dyer Compendium, which wouldn’t be published for another 13 years? Can we trace any of these soldiers names to the original muster rolls, or the National Park Service Civil War Soldier and Sailor System? Do photos of any of these soldiers exist in state or federal archives? What were the enrollment numbers of American Jews compared to other ethnic groups of the day?
These are the kinds of questions we’ll be exploring in the coming months, together with a team of historians, students, enthusiasts, hobbyists and others, as we dig into the data of the Civil War on CivilWarData150.net.