Maryland was deeply divided during the Civil War, and Baltimore was the scene of the conflict’s first casualties on April 19, 1861. Baltimore’s immigrants—Germans, Irishmen, and Jews, and their children—composed 35% of the city’s population. Nevertheless, histories of Maryland’s Civil War make scant mention of this important segment of the community. While there were divisions among the immigrants themselves, their majority support of the Union was a factor in keeping Maryland on the Union’s side during this critical period.
Nicholas Fessenden, a Philadelphia native, was educated at Yale and Columbia Universities in history. He taught History at Friends School of Baltimore from 1972 to 2010 and also on an adjunct basis at Towson University and Maryland Institute College of Art. Since retirement, he has focused on Baltimore’s immigration history and has been working with the group Baltimore Immigration Memorial to establish a small immigration museum in Locust Point.