immigrants, Civil War, war experience, duty


In 1917 the Danish American minister and immigrant historian Peter S0rensen Vig published Danske i krig i og for Amerika (Danes Fighting in and for America). Vig had taken it upon himself to take a deeper look into the Danish Civil War experience, at a time when Norwegian American immigrants had already published several books about their war service. Vig, however, discovered that the information available was not quite as substantial as he had assumed when writing Danske i Amerika (Danes in America) back in 1907, nor was it "compiled in one place." Vig's Danske i Kamp i og for Amerika nevertheless unearthed countless valuable anecdotes, often based on aging survivors' recollections, that seemed to confirm that Danes with their proud Viking past were still a "warlike people."2 Yet, only in few rare instances did Vig seemingly come across contemporary primary sources - such as letters, diaries, newspaper accounts etc. - that could support ( or undermine) his account of Danish immigrants' motivation for, and actions during, Civil War service in America. Since letters were "not exactly numerous," Vig ended up with a fairly idyllic account of Danish Civil War soldiers' experience. When possible, however, Vig incorporated lengthy quotes, for example from Jens Andersen writing about "screeches of bullets and the screams of the wounded," and thereby supported a narrative of Danes not shirking from their duty in their adopted country.