29 March 2007

Confederate Army Jews

For Jews interested in their Southern roots, there's a fascinating new article on Jews who served in the Confederate Army by Gary Ayres.

By 1861 a third of all Jews in America lived in Louisiana.
Some say that more than 10,000 Jews fought for the Confederacy, with 2,000 of them being officers or in the Confederate Government. Others say that only 6,000 Jews served in the Union Army and as few as 2,000 Jews in the Confederacy.

I believe the number of Jews in the Confederacy was more likely to have been between 6,000 and 10,000. I believe that to be more likely because the Jewish population prospered more in the South, and the South was more tolerant to their religion than in the North.

The author includes the personal account of Joseph Goldsmith, known as the Jewish Confederate "chaplain." Goldsmith was a contractor for sidearms and material.

Ayres also addresses Union General Ulysses S. Grant's belief that the cotton 'black market' was organized by Jews:

General Grant issued his "General Order Number 11". This order expelled all Jews from Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi.

The order said:
"The Jews, as a class violating every regulation of trade established by the Treasury Department and also department orders, are hereby expelled from the department ('Department of the Tennessee,' an administrative district of the Union Army of occupation composed of Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi) within twenty-four hours from the receipt of this order.

Post commanders will see to it that all of this class of people be furnished passes and required to leave, and any on returning after such notification will be arrested and held in confinement until an opportunity occurs of sending them out as prisoners, unless furnished with permit from headquarters. No passes will be given these people to visit headquarters for the purpose of making personal application of trade permits."

There was enough backlash from residents for Lincoln to make a decision to have General Grant to revoke the "Order".

The article has information on Confederate members of the tribe, including West Point graduate Abraham Myers, classmate of Robert E. Lee; Major Adolph Proskauer of Mobile, Alabama; and the six Cohen brothers of North Carolina. The first Jewish Confederate soldier killed was Albert Lurie Moses of Charlotte, North Carolina. All-Jewish companies reported from Macon and Savannah, Georgia, while three Louisiana Jews were made Colonel; Moses Jacob Ezekiel of Richmond, Virginia; and Prussian immigrant and physcian Simon Baruch, Surgeon General of the Confederacy.

Yale-educated lawyer Judah Benjamin of Louisiana served the Confederacy as Attorney General, Secretary of War and Secretary of State. Before the Civil War, he had been one of the first Jewish U.S. Senators, and had been offered a Supreme Court seat, which he declined.

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