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The Shapell Roster of Jewish Service in the American Civil War

by The Shapell Manuscript Foundation


Researchers can now search this valuable database on JewishGen! Results will direct users to the Shapell Roster website to view records.

The Shapell Roster of Jewish Service in the American Civil War is an ongoing reappraisal of Jewish military participation in the American Civil War, based on academic research methodology and unprecedented access to millions of primary source documents, discovered in both physical and online repositories. Using Simon Wolf’s book, “The American Jew as Patriot, Soldier and Citizen” as its starting point, the purpose of the Shapell Roster is to identify each Jew that served in the Union and Confederate Army or Navy from April 12, 1861 – April 9, 1865.

Wolf's 1895 survey disproved claims against the patriotism of American Jewish citizens, documenting Jewish participation in American military conflicts starting with the Revolutionary War, and concluding with the Civil War. The latter section lists 8,115 soldiers and comprises more than half of the book. In addition to the soldiers listed by state, he also included a section called "Brothers in Arms," rosters of Officers in the Regular Army and Navy, and a list of seven Jews who received the Medal of Honor for meritorious service during the Civil War.

Despite its frustrating and time-consuming organizational format, more than 125 years later, Wolf's tome was still widely regarded as the standard-bearer on the topic of 18th and 19th century Jewish American military history. Moreover, even by Wolf's own admission, it was incomplete. Lynn Berkowitz' transcription of Wolf's list into the Jewish-American Civil War Veterans database (available on JewishGen at was a definite improvement in terms of usability, but for Benjamin Shapell and other historians and collectors of American Jewish history, the missing names and Wolf's name profiling methodology begged the question: how accurate was Wolf's accounting?

The Shapell Roster is the answer to that question. Initially, the scope of work was limited to verifying service for the names in Wolf and adding anyone Wolf omitted. When it became clear that more than just a few of the soldiers in Wolf were definitively not Jewish, the focus was expanded to collect material proof of both military service and Judaism. Today, the Shapell Roster is a flexible, powerful database, with 64 searchable fields of data, 7,000 Union soldier and sailor pages, a bibliography of nearly 3,000 primary and secondary sources, and more than 50,000 historical documents. It recognizes the thousands of Jewish men who served — both those previously recognized for their participation and those who have remained, until now, unidentified.

While each soldier and sailor page is unique, most contain a detailed accounting of his Civil War military history and evidence, if it exists, that he was Jewish. Additional information include a biographical summary; dates and locations for birth and death; residential, social, political and occupational details; genealogical history (from the soldier’s ancestors to his descendants); the connections, if any, between him and other individuals in the database; and historical documents that provide insight into his life, before, during, and after the war, including original letters from the Shapell Manuscript Collection.

For more information about the Shapell Roster, please visit To contact us with information about a soldier or sailor in (or missing from) the Shapell Roster, please email us at

1. In deference to Simon Wolf, the Shapell Roster retains the 800+ names (and counting) from his list that our genealogical research has determined are not Jewish, and they are identified as such.
2. In 2022, the Shapell Manuscript Foundation published the Shapell Roster’s Union soldier and sailor pages, and will publish the Confederate pages in the future. As the research is ongoing, the Shapell Roster team will continue to add new Union soldiers and sailors and update existing pages with new discoveries.

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This database is searchable via the JewishGen USA Database or the JewishGen Unified Search.

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