- WASHINGTON (Agence France Presse) - More than 50 Chinese fought in the U.S.
Civil War, serving in the ranks of both Union and Confederate forces as
foot soldiers and seamen, a pair of researchers have documented for the
- Though small in number, their presence
adds the Chinese to the ranks of other foreigners -- Irish, Germans, French
-- who fought in the 1861-65 war between the states, one of the bloodiest
ever and a defining chapter of U.S. history.
- "None of them were famous generals,
none of them became officers. They were what people in America have come
to call 'grunts.'" Thomas Lowry, one of the researchers, said Tuesday.
- Lowry and Edward Milligan tracked down
51 Chinese from muster roles, contemporaneous newspaper accounts, and previously
published works by civil war scholars.
- They published their findings in the
April edition of "North and South," a magazine devoted to civil
war. The publication lists 47 Chinese, but Milligan has since found four
more who served, according to Lowry.
- The most common path that led the Chinese
into the war was service as common seamen or ship cooks and stewards,
many of them having reached American shores on U.S. ships trading in the
- Forty joined the Union and Confederate
navies. They enlisted in Macao; New York; San Francisco; New Orleans;
the whaling port of New Bedford, Massachusetts; and Mare Island, California.
- Eleven Chinese served in army units on
both sides in the conflict.
- "They were scattered through many
different outfits," said Lowry. "Every one has a different story."
- Often their names were Anglicized, making
the search a particular challenge.
- Edward Day Cohota, one of the best documented
of the Chinese, was given his name by a sea captain, Sargent Day, who
adopted him in China and brought him home to America aboard his ship,
the Cohota, said Lowry.
- Cohota enlisted in the 23rd Massachusetts
Infantry at the age of 18 in 1864, was grazed by a mini ball in the battle
of Cold Harbor, Virginia, where he saved a friend who was shot in the
- After the war, Cohota served for 30 years
on the frontier as an Indian fighter in New Mexico and Nebraska, where
he married a Norwegian woman and opened a Chinese restaurant after retiring
from the army. He was denied U.S. citizenship under the Chinese Exclusion
- One of the more amazing stories is that
of a pair of Siamese twins, Eng and Chang Bunker, who became wealthy planters
and slave-holders in Mount Airy, North Carolina after getting their start
as sideshow attractions.
- The twins married local white women who
bore them 22 children between then, Lowry said.
- When the Union forces occupied North
Carolina, Eng Bunker was drafted, only to be sent home after showing up
for duty attached to his brother.
- Two of the Bunkers' sons, Christopher
Wren Bunker and DC Bunker, enlisted in the Viriginia Cavalry. One cousin
was captured and imprisoned in Ohio and records show the other was wounded.
( (c) 1999 Agence France Presse)