This was a 4 parts series (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part4). The original introduction (also in Part 1) follows:
In "Non-Natives, the Military and 'Empire'," I wrote an elaborative commentary on a piece by Max Boot in which he proposed that illegal immigrants should be recruited for military service and in which he referred to some claims that mercenaries had caused the "fall" of Rome. I also mentioned another bit of Boot's "call to history," in which he wrote:
In the past, the U.S. military had many more foreigners than we do today. (During the Civil War, at least 20% were immigrants. Now it's 7%.) The British army, among many others, has also made good use of noncitizens. Nepalese Gurkhas still fight and die for the Union Jack despite not being 'culturally bonded' to it. No doubt they would do the same for the Stars and Stripes.
As it happens, I have done research on the French Canadian immigrants to New England during the Civil War era. Thus, prompted by a historian's natural desire to offer a historical example to compare and contrast with contemporary issues, I have decided to post my research in a series, beginning today.What follows is a conflation of a traditional research paper with online links interspersed. Time prevents me from a thorough going-over, so any mistakes, misattributions or faulty citation (in short, "sloppiness") should be taken with a grain of salt. However, while I'm aware of some formatting inconsistencies, I ask that the reader pass over those: it's about the content, not the presentation. Nonetheless, it would be appreciated if legitimate oversights were brought to my attention. A final note: Boot wrote about illegal immigrants. To my knowledge, there was no such delineation between a "legal" and an "illegal" immigrant in the Civil War era. However, this is not to say there wasn't an idea of "desirable" versus "undesirable."