By DANIEL KOCH
Special to the Register
Excerpt: By the time war broke out in 1861, multiple waves of German immigrants had arrived in the Great Lakes region.
Unfortunately, the U.S. was not always welcoming to new immigrants. Germans were easy targets because, unlike British immigrants, they spoke a different language.
Another point of contention for those from the southern German states was their faith. While north German immigrants were Protestant and often viewed as hardworking additions to the community, the U.S. was harshly anti-Catholic at that time, and German and Irish Catholics alike felt that rage on multiple occasions.
Two well-known examples of this were the Hoboken riots in 1851 and the 1855 riots in Louisville.
The Louisville riots on Aug. 6, 1855, were especially brutal. Protestant mobs attacked Irish and German Catholic neighborhoods. The exact death toll has never been documented but is thought to have been between 20 and 100.
Along with the violence, more than 100 businesses, private homes and tenements were vandalized, looted or burned. Despite this anger, Germans would volunteer to fight for their adopted country in overwhelming numbers.
More German-Americans would fight for the North than any other immigrant group. Many of these men joined normal state volunteer units composed of multiple immigrant groups as well as native born Americans. Some in areas with large German populations joined regiments entirely or mostly comprised of German immigrants and officers.
Some, such as the 9th Ohio Infantry from Cincinnati, even gave all orders and commands in German, as that language was more comfortable to them.
Another such regiment was the 107th Ohio Infantry. Most of this regiment was composed of German-American immigrants, although a few Stark County companies of native born Americans were included.
Companies F and H were filled by men from Erie and Huron counties. The regiment was organized at Camp Taylor in Cleveland under the command of Col. Seraphim Meyer, a resident of Canton.
The regiment’s first service was September 1862 in support of the Union Army of the Ohio’s successful thwarting of a Confederate invasion of Kentucky that had reached Covington, directly across from Cincinnati.