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Introducing the Research Work of Dr. King Zhang, a/k/a Dr. Qingsong Zhang on Chinese serving in the American Civil War

A short Biography of Dr. Zhang

Dr. Zhang came from Yangzhou (Yeung Chow, in Cantonese) city, Jiangsu (Kong So) province, China. In his youth, he liked to gaze at the waves of Yangtze River and daydreamed that one day, he would cross the ocean to see the world. His dream was gradually fulfilled. First, he entered Nanjing (Nanking) University in 1978, majoring in History. Graduated in 1982, he became a graduate student at the same Nanjing (Nanking) University. In 1984, he crossed the ocean and attended the University of Virginia as an exchanged student and got his Master Degree in 1986, and then, his Ph.D. Degree in History in 1994.

On 05/18/2000, Dr. Zhang contacted me after he found my website, and he graciously provided some information on his independent research and contribution on Chinese serving in the American Civil War to me. He had written a book called "Dragon In The Land Of The Eagle", in Chinese language and Chapter 12 dealed with Chinese serving in the American Civil War. He is also a contributer on the same subject, written in English, to a Civil War Encyclopedia. That was done prior the publication of the Chinese in the Civil War article in the North and South magazine by Tom Lowry and Ed Milligan. The following are Dr. Zhang's writing.

In 1998, Dr. Zhang saw the news that some scholars were editing a book of Encyclopedia of American Civil War. He contacted the editor and suggested to include an entry for "Chinese soldiers in Civil War". Although they had completed the entries, after understanding the important merit of this missing piece, they agreed to insert an entry and asked Dr. Zhang to write the text. He wrote a 500 word piece for them and it was accepted. So, when the book comes out, it will include a piece on the Chinese soldiers.

The name of that "to be published" book in year 2001 is: Encyclopedia of the American Civil War, A Comprehensive Reference from ABC-CCLIO, Colorado Springs.

GENERAL EDITORS: Jeanne T. Heidler, PhD; David S. Heidler, PhD; ASSOCIATE EDITOR: David J. Coles, PhD; EDITORIAL BOARD: Gary W. Gallagher, PhD; University of Virginia; James M. McPherson, PhD; Princeton University; Mark E. Neely, Jr., PhD; Penn State University;

The Encyclopedia of the American Civil War will be a multi-volume reference published by ABC-CCLIO in the year 2001. Abundantly illustrated with maps, photographs, and other art from the period, it will contain approximately 1,500 articles for a total of about 1.6 million words. Topics will cover all aspects of the war, including causes, major and minor figures, campaigns, engagements, social issues, places, and events pertinent to the conflict.

Title: "Chinese American Soldiers"; words: 500

Contributor: Qingsong Zhang, Ph.D.(History, 1994, University of Virginia). Author of Mei Guo Bai Nian Pai Hua Nei Mu (Dragon In The Land Of The Eagle), Shanghai People's Publishing House, 1998.

Chinese American Soldiers

In 1860, according to a United States Census Bureau report, all of the 34,933 Chinese in the United States resided in California. It seemed that no Chinese participated in the American Civil War. However, recent research has revealed at least three Chinese volunteers in the Union Army and one Chinese in the Union Navy.

HongNeokWOOIt is believed to be WOO Hong Neok's picture in Union uniform, of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Courtesy of Michael Musick, archivist of Civil War Military Record at the National Archive, Washington, D.C., and Courtesy of Dr. Thomas P. Lowry, a retired physician and author of several Civil War books.

Hong Neok Woo, who came to the United States on board a U.S. warship, lived in Lancaster, Pennsylvania for nine years and became a citizen on September 22, 1860. On June 29, 1863, he joined the 50th Infantry of the Pennsylvania Volunteers. After the battle of Gettysburg, Woo was honorably discharged along with his company on June 15, 1863. Woo later returned to China and worked for U.S. missionaries in Shanghai.

The picture of Joseph Pierce in Union uniform. Courtesy of the owner of the picture, Michael J. McAfee, Senior Editor of the Military Images magazine and Curator of the Museum of United States Military Academy, and courtesy of Philip Katcher, Senior Book Review Editor of the Military Images magazine.
Photo credit also goes to Irving Moy.

Picture Shown above: Joseph Pierce. Copy of the original picture of Joseph Pierce in Oval picture frame,
published in History of the Fourteenth Regiment, Connecticut Volunteer Infantry, by Charles D. Page,
(Boston, 1906.), on the Chapter named "The March from Falmouth to Gettysburg" page 131.
Photo credit also goes to Irving Moy.
Joseph Pierce, who at age of 10 was bought by a captain Peck in Canton, China and brought to Kensington, Connecticut. The Peck family named him "Pierce" after then President Franklin Pierce. On July 26, 1862, at age 20, Pierce joined the 14th Infantry of the Connecticut Volunteers. The 14th Infantry took part in 34 battles and suffered heavy casualties (234 heads when discharged in 1865 as opposed to 1015 when formed in 1862). Pierce was honorably discharged with the Infantry on May 31, 1865 in Alexandria, Virginia. He received a promotion from private to corporal on November 1, 1863. After the war, he married Martha Morgan and lived in Meridan, Connecticut until his death on January 3, 1916.


A. DardelleAntonio Dardelle. Masonic Burial For Union Veteran; Antonio Dardelle, Civil War veteran who was buried with Masonic rites this afternoon. The photo appeared with his obituary. New Haven Register, January 19, 1933; courtesy of Andrew Cusati.

Antonio Dardell was also a Chinese boy bought by a sea captain and brought to Connecticut. He joined the 27th Infantry of the Connecticut Volunteers at New Haven on August 23, 1862. The 27th Infantry suffered heavy casualties in three battles it engaged. On July 27, 1863, Dardell was honorably discharged in New Heaven along with the 27th Infantry. After the war, he married Mary Payne and lived in New Haven. On March 17, 1882, he became a naturalized citizen. He died on January 18, 1933 and was buried in Madison, Connecticut.

Tsui Kuo Ying, Chinese ambassador to the United States, wrote in his diary in 1891 that there was a Chinese named Ah Mei in Chicago. Ah Mei studied in a military school for several years and served in the U.S. Navy during the Civil War. After the war, he became an American citizen and was permitted to vote in important elections. The name and story has not been confirmed. However, it has been known that in 1865 there was a Chinese in Chicago who sent letters to relatives in China. Census also show that there was a Chinese in Chicago in 1870.

The stories of Hong Neok Woo, Joseph Pierce, Antonio Dardell and Ah Mei demonstrate that Chinese Americans are as patriotic as any other ethnic groups in the United States. They contributed to the war against slavery and helped save the Union of the United States.

Dr. Qingsong Zhang's additional writing on Joseph Pierce

From Chapter 12 of his book "Chinese Exclusion U.S.A." written in Chinese language.
Translated into English by the webmaster Gordon Kwok, on selected paragraphs that haven't appeared anywhere else in this web site.

(1) A Family story about Joseph Pierce circulated by the Peck Family.

The descendents of the Peck family circulated many little interesting episodes on a family member, a small Chinese boy from the East. One of the stories started like this. The mother of Amos Peck faced some challenges in raising Joseph Pierce. For example, the small Chinese boy was not used to eat American style dinner. So very often, he sneaked out to the animal farm, the straw-roof shelter, and cooked his own Chinese style dishes for his consumption. He moved the hay and grass aside, and chose a piece of flat area, where he built a fire. The sparks from the fire flew and jumped around, and scared the Peck family plenty much (for fearing the buildings might catch fire.) Later on, Mother Peck decided to let Joseph Pierce to cook his Chinese meal in a safe place ------ on the stove in the kitchen. (From Hartford Courant, August 4, 1863.)

(Notes from Irving Moy: I saw this story in the Hartford Courant during my research. The article said that he would sneak out and cook rice in the barn and one day set the straw on fire and ,in turn, the barn. I did not use it because there was a cartoon with it showing Pierce running out of the barn, looking rather foolish. The way it was drawn I thought it was another racial sterotype of the Chinese. The article was written in 1963. I also could not see how he could have gotten rice and at that age, 10-12 ? Tried to cook it. It also was a story that was handed down third hand and not from a family member.)

(2) The Battle of Gettysburg

During July 1 to 3, 1863, the 14th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry participated in the Great Battle of the Civil War.

General Robert E. Lee took his Confederate Army of Northern Virginia to Pennsylvania and fought with the Army of the Potomac, led by the newly appointed Union General George Gordon Meade at Gettysburg. This was the most decisive conflict, and the turning point of the Civil War.

July 3, 1863, the Confederate Army attacked the Union force. Joseph Pierce served in the 14th Connecticut Volunteer regiment, which had only about 200 soldiers left from the 1,000+ when they first organized, and one of the five Connecticut regiments of the Army of the Potomac. The 14th regiment was placed on the right wing.

Situation unfold, showing Gen. Lee and Gen. Longstreet had ordered Gen. Pickett to lead 10,000+ men, in 3 or 4 lines, charging on the fortified Union defense post behind the low stone wall. After the Confederate cannons bombarded the Union line, they marched with colors and drums. The bayonets of their rifles reflected sparks of shining bright light, dazzling one's eyes.

The Union army were well prepared and waited for the Southerners to approach at the right distance, within the range of their cannons and rifles. It happened that the position of the 14th CT regiment was on the pathway of the Confederate's attacking point. The Union soldiers quietly examined their rifles, loaded the bullets and gunpowder, and prayed silently. Some took out the pictures of their loved ones and had their last look. One of the war history recorded as follow: (John Niven, Connecticut for the Union: The Role of the State in the Civil War, New Haven, 1965, pp. 239-241.) "A private named, Joseph Pierce, from the 14th Connecticut Voluntary Regiment, carefully put his long hair, pleaded as a pig tail, and tucked it inside the collar of his soiled Union uniform. He was the only Chinese soldier serving in the Union Army. He carefully checked the bullets in his gun barrel, and examined the trigger. He put his finger on it, pressed it tight, and got ready to fire."

The Union soldiers waited until the Confederates approached within the range of their weapons. The North opened fire. Hundred cannons opened up and cut down the Southerners like cutting weeds and grass with a scythe. For the Southerners who escaped the cannon balls, would face lines of Union soldiers shooting at them. The first line knelt and shot with their rifles. The second line stood and fired with their rifles. And quickly reloaded their gunpowder and bullets. And so on went the continuous shooting, fighting and bayoneting. When the smoke and dust got settled, Pickett's charge turned fizzled. Thousands of the Confederates laid injured and dead. The remaining Confederates retreated, walking backward. (If they got shot, they didn't want to be shot at their back. They preferred to be shot at their front, and showed bravery. So they walked backward.)

Joseph Pierce and his 14th regiment contributed a lot to the victory in the Battle of Gettysburg.

Dr. Qingsong Zhang's writing on Antonio Dardelle

From Chapter 12 of his book "Chinese Exclusion U.S.A." written in Chinese language.
Translated into English by the webmaster Gordon Kwok. Parenthesis [xxxxxxx] were added by the Webmaster to clarify the facts.

There was another Chinese serving in the Connecticut Volunteer Regiment. We would not have known his story, if he had not disclosed that this unsung hero was from China. His name is Antonio Dardelle.

I could not figure out the detail of Dardelle's background, but I could say his situation was very similar to Pierce's. Scanning his known documents, the section on date of birth and place of birth indicated that he was born in China, and was raised by a sea captain [Captain David White of the town Guildford] from Connecticut.

Dardelle was born on January 1844, in Kwangtung Province, China, and therefore, he was two years younger than Joseph Pierce. He enlisted at 18. His height was 178 centimeters. His muster roll described him as having black hair and black eyes, and undoubtedly a Chinese.

Dardelle enlisted in [Company A] twenty-seventh Connecticut Voluntary Infantry, in New Haven [at Camp Terry] on August 23, 1862. Yale University is located in New Haven, and therefore, the education level of this regiment is the highest of all Connecticut regiments. His residence was in Clinton.

The organization of 27th was complete in September 1862. On October 22 [1862], the regiment received order to leave New Haven and proceed to Washington, DC. The 27th had 829 soldiers and officers.

In October 25 [1862], the 27th arrived in Washington, DC, and mustered in part of the Army of Potomac. Later on, they engaged in three big battles, but unfortunately, they did not win. Their rifles came from Austria, of inferior quality. One of their commanders commented, "Soldiers, if the bullets could not be fired from your rifles, use your bayonet." The 27th was assigned to the second Corps, first Brigade. The Army of the Potomac [of 1862] was well known to be bungling. The Army was led by a General [General Ambrose Burnside] who was really courageous, but knew nothing about strategy and tactics.

The first battle of 27th regiment, under the command of [General Winfield Scott] Hancock, fought in the Battle of Fredericksburg, Virgina, in December 1862. That morning, the Union army [crossed the Rappahannock] and arrived in Fredericksburg, marched towards Marye's Heights. Between the city and the [stonewall of] Marye's Heights, laid an unprotected ground. The Confederate fire power, [well protected behind the stonewall] covered the whole panoramic view. The North repeatedly charged [Marye's Heights]. The South opened up their fire. ["When we opened up, not a chicken down there would survive." said Confederate General Edward Porter Alexander.] The North suffered severely. When some the Union army moved closer to the stonewall, rain of bullets washed over them. Under a net of cannon balls and bullets, the Union's charge subsided. The North gave up the attack in the evening and retreated.

375 soldiers of the 27th Infantry participated in this battle. One officer and 15 soldiers laid dead; 5 officers and 84 soldiers were wounded; and 3 missing; total 108 casualties, losing about one third of its strength. Just before the battle, some soldiers of the 27th were transferred to perform some other duties, otherwise, the casualty list would have been more severe. [Dardelle later told people he had suffered a severe wound in his right shoulder during heavy fighting in Marye's Heights, which was a part of the Battle of Federicksburg, and his military records confirmed that he was indeed 'in hospital' in December 1862, but the notation is "sick" rather than wounded. On January 27, 1863, he was transferred from the General Hospital at Portsmouth Grove, Rhode Island, to the one in New Haven, and he remained "sick in hospital at New Haven" from January through June, 1863. When speaking of his wound, however, he claimed that "after a brief period of treatment, he returned to his company and served until the end of the war."]

After resting for the Winter camping, the 27th participated in another great battle in May 1863, in the Battle of Chancellorville, Virginia. Owing to the error of the high command [General Joeseph Hooker], the Union army suffered another defeat. [Dardelle was not there.]

At 11 a.m. in the morning of June 6, 1863, 27th marched to an important sentry position of the front line as ordered, with other regiments, composed of about 400 plus soldiers. Along the way, they were ambushed by the enemy and had some casualties. When they arrived the destination, they found out the two wings of the enemy started to envelope them, intending to surround them and cut off their escape route. At this crucial juncture, they could find their commander, and they couldn't decide what to do.

The Confederate then completed the encirclement, and sent officer under the flag of truce to persuade the 27th to surrender, telling them they had no chance and would be soon annihilated. The 27th had no choice but to give up their arms and surrendered.

In this skirmish, 27th lost 2 soldiers, and 1 officer and 6 soldiers wounded, and 18 officers and 265 soldiers got captured, making a total of about 292 soldiers. It was not certain whether Antonio Dardelle was among the prisoner of war. [Other source indicated Dardelle was not there, but recuperating in a New Haven hospital.] The 2 left over regiment of 27th were re-organized with others to form a brigade.

The re-organized 27th marched to Pennsylvania and participated in the famous Battle of Gettysburg in July 2, 1863. The 27th regiment had only 75 soldiers left. July 2, Union 3rd Army engaged with and attacked the Confederate force on the left wing. Owing to the long line and their thin composition, their attack collapsed upon the Confederate's counter-attack.

The next day, July 3, the 27th was assigned to guard [the center], beside the 14th Connecticut Infantry. At that time the 27th had only 37 soldiers left in their regiment. Well, the 14th was the focal point of the Confederate attack. [To make a long story short], the Confederate Pickett's charge were crushed by the Federal, and the South lost 5,000, killed, and 1,000 captured. The Confederates were forced to withdraw.

In Gettysburg, the 27th lost 2 officers and 8 soldiers, 4 officers and 20 soldiers injured; 5 missing; total casualty was 39.

After 9 months of fighting, 27th regiment had only 37 effective soldiers left for combat duty.

Gettysburg was the last battle of the 27th. Afterward, the name 27th regiment was taken away from the organizational chart, and disbanded the surviving soldiers. Connecticut had provided 5 regiments and 4 of them were disbanded. Only the 14th [Joseph Pierce's] was left to continue to carry on.

On July 18, 1863, the survivors of the 27th departed the Army of the Potomac and went home. The captured soldiers of the 27th, after paroled and exchanged, also were released and joined their comrades in Baltimore. On July 22, 1863, the 27th returned to New Haven, and received warm-hearted welcome by their families and friends. Only about half of their original enlisted number were left. On July 27, 1863, the 27th Connecticut Voluntary Infantry was mustered out in New Haven. According to the Government's record, Antonio Dardelle, with his comrades, were "honorably discharged." Most soldiers on record were "honorably discharged," and only a small portion of soldiers got "discharged." Only a soldier with "honorably discharged" could received various benefits, [such as a pension.]

Dardelle served in the military for eleven months and five days, as a private. He had no injury record. Owing to his non-Chinese sounding name, nobody could imagine he was a Chinese (by just looking at his names.) Local military historian often thought Joseph Pierce is the only Chinese serving in the Civil War. Thanks for a reporter from New York Times, who wrote an article in 1882, revealing his Chinese background, otherwise, we might never find out his existence.

{Please note: Dr. Zhang translated the original English text into Chinese. The Webmaster translated the Chinese text back into English. Therefore, this translated English text may not match the original English text. The webmaster hopes that 99% of the original message and meaning would be retained.}

(New York Times) March 17, 1882 printed an article:
In New Haven, Connecticut, there is a Chinese named Antonio Dardelle. He was Naturalized as an U.S. citizen in the Superior Court of New Haven on October 22, 1880. He did not go through the process of Declaration of Intention to become a citizen three years prior, and instead, directly applied for Naturalization. We found out he held the "honorably discharged" Certificate of the 27th Connecticut Volunteer Regiment, enlisted in October 22, 1862 and mustered out in July 25 (should be 27), 1863. According to the U.S. law, that could substitute "the first document."

The law we are referring, is the Bill passed by the U.S. Congress on July 17, 1862, that "Any foreigner over age 21, and if he has been, or will be, honorably discharged from the U.S. Army, and if he permanently lives in the United States, he could apply to become U.S. citizen immediately, without the procedure of declaring intention to become U.S. citizen three years prior. He must demonstrate to the Court that he was honorably discharged, and lived and observed all moral turpitude."

In order to recruit more people to join in the Union Army during the Civil War, U.S. Congress passed this law to encourage foreign-born immigrants to enlist. Joseph Pierce applied to become citizen in 1882, just before the passing the Chinese Exclusion Law, in order to protect his status to stay in the United States.

After honorably discharged, Antonio Dardelle returned to his hometown, Clinton. On April 9, 1868, he married an American girl named Mary Payne. The wedding was held in a church in Madison. Madison could be Mary's hometown. Mary's father was also a sea captain. Clinton and Madison are about 4 miles apart, at the coast of the Atlantic. Dardelle grew up around this area.

In 1869, they moved to New Haven, and lived there ever since; their address was at 292 George Street, New Haven, Connecticut. His occupation was a tinsmith.

Antonio and Mary Dardelle had three daughters. The oldest daughter, Minie, was born in November 1, 1873; second daughter Carrie, was born in July 7, 1875, and later married to a Mr. Cowan; third daughter Alice, was born in November 18, 1880.

Joseph Pierce applied for military pension in 1890. Antonio Dardelle applied in 1907. Dardelle applied in February 23, 1907 and got approval in June 15. He received $12 per month. From May 25, 1912, his pension increased to $15.5 per month. In August 23, 1914, the sum increased to $19. From August 23, 1919, his pension jumped to $22.5 per month. Dardelle passed away at age 89, in January 18, 1933. His death certificate said he was buried in Madison, Connecticut, in January 21, 1933.


All rights reserved.

Webmaster and editor, Gordon Kwok
JULY 1, 2000
Revised March 9, 2001

Revised and updated on January 26, 2009