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Ozzy

Bohemian Brigade

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We've all heard of the Union Brigade, the Iowa Brigade, the "High Pressure" Brigade, and the "Brigade of Discipline." What was the Bohemian Brigade?

Ozzy

 

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The term is applied to the Civil War Correspondents, as a group. (see: A Bohemian Brigade: The Civil War Correspondents, by James M. Perry, John Wiley and Sons, New York, 212-850-6336, 305 pages, $27.95.) Starr's 1954 book is free: https://archive.org/details/bohemianbrigadec027541mbp

The 24th Illinois was comprised mostly of "48'ers" and included  Company F of "Bohemian Sharpshooters" that included Prokop Hudek. Hudek was a Chicago "community organizer". The 24th was known as the "1st Hecker Jaeger Regiment" and was comprised of Poles, Germans, Slovaks and Austrians in addition to the Czech "Bohemians". In 1879 the "Sharpshooters" were basically an ethnic militia and they were involved in a violent episode when they fired into a crowd at a picnic.   http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1879/06/27/page/14/article/the-bohemian-sharpshooters

I do not know of a real Bohemian Regiment, much less brigade.

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Rbn3

Your answer -- relating war correspondents (and sketch artists) to the "Bohemian Brigade" -- is correct. Well done!

I first encountered the term in Franc Bang Wilkie's Pen and Powder (which 1883 work he begins, thus:  "Very little has been said of the correspondents who accompanied the Western armies during the late war..."  and then goes on to use the terms "Bohemian" and "Bohemian Brigade" as if they always existed.) On pages 52- 54 Wilkie defines the characteristic traits of a Bohemian -- mostly by describing a colleague who did not possess them -- as "bearded, tanned, slouch-hatted, unkempt, and rough-looking; who slept rough while following the army, under the stars." Pen and Powder contains identities of the Western Theatre journalists who reported the war; and Franc Bangs Wilkie may be considered the "first war correspondent" of the Civil War, as he was "on the payroll" of the Dubuque Herald with that job description in May 1861... and followed the progress of the 1st Iowa Infantry from their recruitment to their action at Wilson's Creek.

But there is a problem: There is no record of use of the term "Bohemian" to identify the Press Corps that followed an army that pre-dates 1863. It appears to be a descriptive title that evolved over time; and after the war, efforts and great lengths produced "a pedigree" that traced the creation of the "special correspondent" all the way back to Pfaff's Cave. (Much like the "Army of the Tennessee," the Bohemian Brigade was present at Shiloh, but not known by the the label until later.)

Ozzy

 

N.B.  Another contender for "first war correspondent" of the Civil War is Felix Gregory De Fontaine, a Maine-borne employee of the Charleston Mercury, who reported the Attack on Fort Sumter... and then remained with the South (and signed most of his articles as "Personne.")

 

 

 

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In further consideration of Bohemians...

Always happy to admit when I am wrong (well, maybe not happy, but I admit my mistakes, anyway.) In the case of Bohemians, and the use of the term in relation to the Intelligentsia who frequented Pfaff's Cave, I stumbled upon an early use of "Bohemian" while searching for information about the Wide Awake Movement. In the Chicago Press & Tribune of 6 APR 1860 on page 2 col.5 is a comprehensive description of Pfaff's Cave, and the patrons of that place... a full year before Civil War erupted:

https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82014511/1860-04-06/ed-1/seq-2/#date1=1860&sort=date&rows=20&words=Awakes&searchType=basic&sequence=0&index=12&state=Illinois&date2=1860&proxtext=Awakes&y=18&x=13&dateFilterType=yearRange&page=2  

Amazing what can be found, when you're not looking

Ozzy

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