October 20, 2020

“Union General August Willich”

– David Dixon

 

October 20, 2020

The life of Union General August Willich begins as a Prussian army officer who renounces his nobility and joins in the failed European revolutions of 1848.  He emigrates to America, edits a daily labor newspaper in Cincinnati, and becomes one of the most accomplished generals in the Union Army.  This story sheds new light on the contributions of 200,000 German-Americans who fought for the Union.  Willich’s life offers a glimpse into the international dimension of America’s Civil War.  For Willich, the nature and implications of that revolution turned not on Lincoln’s conservative goal of maintaining the national Union, but on issues of social justice, including slavery, free labor, and popular self-government.  The Civil War was not simply a war to end sectional divides, but to restore the soul of the nation, revive the hopes of democrats worldwide, and, in Willich’s own words, “defend the rights of man.” 

David Dixon earned his M.A. in history from the University of Massachusetts in 2003.  He has written books, given nearly 100 talks to audiences, appeared on Civil War Talk Radio and other podcasts.  He hosts B-List History, a website that features obscure characters and their compelling stories.