In 1887, Daniel Ullmann, long a resident of New York City and State, showed his affection for his native state by donating papers and Civil War memorabilia to the Society. However, in the interest of full disclosure, we must admit that the bulk of his papers are at the New-York Historical Society.
Born in Wilmington in 1810, Ullmann graduated from Yale in 1829 and moved to New York City, where he was a lawyer. He became active in politics first as a Whig then as a member of the American (Know Nothing) Party. He ran for office several times but was never elected.
Ullmann began his Civil War service as colonel of the 78th New York Volunteers. He was captured by the Confederates at Cedar Mountain in August 1862 and was held in Libby Prison for several months.
Late in 1862 he met with President Lincoln and tried to persuade him to enlist black troops. The president gradually overcame his resistance to the idea. In January 1863 Ullmann was in New Orleans, where he raised five regiments of black troops, the Corps d’Afrique, which became part of the U.S. Colored Troops. He remained with black troops throughout the war, rising to the rank of major general.
During the war, Ullmann spoke up about the menial tasks assigned to black troops and the quality of white officers assigned to black units. Later, he advocated equality in education and universal suffrage as tools for redeveloping the South.
Even though Ullmann left Delaware as a young man, he maintained his connection with his native state. In that same spirit, we should remember this native Delawarean’s Civil War service on behalf of black soldiers.