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Sons of Garibaldi in Blue and Gray: Italians in the American Civil War By Frank W. A ...

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Sons of Garibaldi in Blue and Gray:


Between 1880 and the early 1920s, Italians participated in one of the greatest free migrations in history, with approximately four million people traveling to America. The high-water mark occurred in 1907 when 285,000 came to the United States. Many migrated from the southern regions of Italy where life for the contadini (peasants) was as difficult as the terrain they left behind. The majority arrived desperately poor, unskilled, and unable to speak the language.

The history of these Italians is well documented. There is a rich and diverse scholarship on nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Italian immigrants. Outstanding studies such as Jerre Mangione and Ben Morreale's La Storia: Five Centuries of the Italian American Experience, Robert Orsi's The Madonna of 115th Street: Faith and Community in Italian Harlem, Gary Mormino and George Pozzetta's The Immigrant World of Ybor City: Italians and their Latin Neighbors in Tampa, 1882–1982, and Salvatore LaGumina's Wop: A Documentary History of Anti Italian Discrimination in the U.S., to name only a few, chronicle the Italian American experience after 1880.

The historiography for Italian Americans before mass migration is woefully inadequate. There are some outstanding works relating to Italian Americans in the nineteenth century such as Richard Juliani's Building Little Italy: Philadelphia's Italians Before Mass Migration, Michael Bacarella's Lincoln's Foreign Legion: The 39th New York Regiment, The Garibaldi Guard, and Giovanni Schiavo's Four Centuries of Italian American History, and The Italians in America Before the Civil War. A journalist and pioneer in Italian American scholarship and research, Schiavo authored several important, albeit dated, books on early Italian Americans.