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The Baden Revolution and the American Civil War, a Crossover?







Gustav Struve


Not so Struve. He the agitator and his wife Amalie of whom people murmured that it was she wearing the breeches in their relationship were expelled from Switzerland in 1849.


Gustav (von) Struve, republican agitator and writer, born October 11, 1805 in Munich, died August 21, 1870 in Yienna. He studied law in Germany, worked as secretary of the Oldenburg legation in Frankfort on the Main., but soon went to Mannheim as a layer

(Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon 1905)


They first went to France, then to England and in 1851 to the States.  Here Struve trying to market his talents as a writer in German soon ran into financial difficulties. Eventually he found a sponsor, a wealthy German brewer named Biegel, who invited Struve to live on his estate at Dobbs Ferry on the Hudson River.


That allowed Struve to seriously take up work on his World History viewed from a radical republican standpoint. He had already started his Weltgeschichte in Baden when following his putsch he was imprisoned in Rastatt. Amalie remained his strong supporter but also his critic. Struve published his first series volume of the World History in 1860 while in 1859 Amalie had successfully founded a Free German School in New York.


Gustav and Amalie Struve  

Initially Struve led an apolitical life but during the 1856 presidential campaign he supported the first Republican candidate for presidency John Charles Frémont in speeches and in an appeal to all Germans in America. When Buchanan won the election the result was that Struve lost most of his subscribers to his World History. As usual standing up for his convictions he could not care less. Subsequently in 1860 he supported Abraham Lincoln and at the outbreak of the Civil War at an age of 55 joined Colonel Ludwig Blenker's 8th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment as a private.


Brigadier General of Volonteers Ludwig Blenker


Left: Gustav Struve‘s Weltgeschichte



During the German Revolution War Blenker had fought in Rhenish Palatinate and after the Prussian intervention army invaded the region had joined the revolutionary forces in Baden. George B. McClellan, Commander in Chief of the Potomac Army, wrote in fall 1861: Blenker's Division was of a special kind. It outshined all the other Division with regard to gaudiness and military show-off. Struve however had confidence in Ludwig his former brother-in-arms he knew from the nearly won battle at Waghäusel on June 21, 1849


on July 21, 1861

A Prussian posing the Napoleon way:
Prince Felix zu Salm-Salm


Once in service Struve was promoted through the ranks of second, first lieutenant and captain. Proudly he writes: In the years 1861 and 62 I took actively part in all exertions and dangers our regiment was exposed to. In particular I participated in the battle of Bull-Run on July 21 1861 when the German Brigade held out until the beginning of the following day whilst all other Union regiments around us had gone on an uncontrolled run [Scot70, Stru64b]. When during the Battle of Cross Keys in June 1862 General Blenker’s colleagues had simply ignored his military authority Blenker asked for his leave and was honorably discharged. He was replaced by the Prince Felix zu Salm-Salm, an officer of a doubtful reputation but first and foremost in Struve’s eyes the detested Prussian. Struve the man of no compromise left the army in November 1862.


A boost in the participation of 48ers in the war came with Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation of September 22, 1862. The 48ers amalgamated their old cause: Freedom for the people with the liberation of the slaves. As Struve wrote in his Weltgeschichte: America's Civil War must be compared to Germany's revolutionary war where in Struve's logic the Southern aristocrats are surrogate to the dynasty of princes [Stru64a].  In his memoirs Here and now and beyond the Ocean Struve even sounds like Bismarck: Only the sword can decide the question of slavery. And he continues: We have all reason to believe that this decision will not only serve the cause of liberty in the Union but for the whole world [Stru64b], America's vocation since then.


On February 18, 1862 Amalie died in childbed and Struve arrived just in time to close her eyes. He always had felt that his place was in the Old World fighting Europe's despots. So when in 1862 the Grand Duchy of Baden granted an unconditional amnesty to all those who had been involved in the 1848/49 uprisings Struve went back to Germany first to Stuttgart, then to Coburg and took up his writings. He married again and became active in the vegetarian movement.


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Struve back in Germany as a prolific writer: Here and now and beyond the Ocean

Far away in Washington in 1865 Lincoln remembered him and appointed him U. S. consul in Thuringia but the local government refused to issue his accreditation due to his radical writings. On August 21, 1870 he died in Vienna where he had settled in 1869.



This page was last updated on 15 September, 2018