Hispanics in the Confederate Army

In honor of Hispanic History Month, let’s talk about Hispanics and the Confederacy. Were there Hispanics in the Confederacy? Yes, there were. The highest ranking Mexican-American in the Confederacy was Santos Benavides. Santos rose to command the 33rd Texas Cavalry, known as Benavides’ Regiment. His ancestor founded the town of Laredo. His uncle served as Alcalde of the town while still under Mexican rule and later as mayor and state representative under the new Texas state government. Santos himself served as mayor prior to the war. Prior to the war, Santos led several campaigns against the Apaches and other Indians. The economy in Webb County, where Laredo was located, was ranching. Santos owned no slaves prior to the war. Indeed, there were no slaves in Webb County before the Civil War.

Santos’ biggest claim to fame was repelling the attempted Yankee incursion of Laredo in 1864. With just 44 Texas cavalrymen, he drove off 200 Texas Union soldiers under the command of the future Texas governor, Edmund Davis. During the war, Santos made it possible for the Confederacy to export cotton to Matamoros, Mexico. Matamoros was across the river from Brownsville. But, Brownsville was occupied by the Federals. Though always under-funded and lacking in food and supplies, the 33rd Texas cavalry never lost an engagement. Two of Santos’ brothers, Refugio and Cristobal, also served in the 33rd as captains.

See more about Col. Santos Benavides Texas State Historical Association here.

The Alamo Rifles

According to the Texas State Historical association, at least 2,500 Mexican Texans joined the Confederate army. Among those were Antonio Bustillos and Eugenio Navarro. They both enlisted in Capt. Samuel McAllister’s company, which became Co. K of the Sixth Texas Infantry Regiment. McCallister’s company was known as the “Alamo Rifles.” S.W. McAllister had been a city Alderman and Ranger before the war. In November, 1861, he wrote to the commander of the Texas military department saying it was hard to recruit Texans for Infantry service. They all wanted to go to war mounted.

Both Bustillos and Navarro enlisted in San Antonio in April, 1862. They joined a year after the initial patriotic rush to join. The Confederate Conscription Act of 1862 was passed on April 16, 1862. Bustillos joined on April 17, 1862, probably too soon to have been influenced by the act.

Before enlisting, Eugenio was a clerk, as was his father, Antonio. His father was not the famous Jose Antonio Navarro, who signed the Texas Declaration of Independence. Eugenio appears in the Confederate service records as “Eugene.” Eugenio was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant and later to 1st Lieutenant. As part of the Sixth Texas Infantry, he served in the Army of Tennessee. He was captured at the Battle of Arkansas Post on Jan. 11, 1863. That battle occurred as part of the Vicksburg campaign led by Gen. John McClernand and Admiral David Porter. Eugenio was captured again at the Battle of Franklin. Eugenio’s family owned no slaves. There were 1,394 slaves in Bexar County in 1860. Bexar county was much larger in 1860 than its present borders.

After the war, Eugene Navarro served as City Clerk for San Antonio. He was described as a man of energy and as well-liked. He participated in July 4th celebrations. In 1869, at the conclusion of a town parade, Navarro read the Declaration of Independence at the popular park, San Pedro Springs.

Antonio Bustillos

Antonio Bustillos was probably the man known as Jose Antonio Martinez Bustillos. His father was known as Don Domingo Bustillos, In the 1850 census. Don Domingo owned $2,000 worth of real estate, which likely means he owned a ranch in Bexar County. Antonio was also captured at the Battle of Arkansas Post in Arkansas. He served the remainder of the war with the Sixth Texas Infantry and surrendered with the regiment in 1865. Antonio’s family owned no slaves.

It was said of the Alamo Rifles that they left San Antonio for the war with slightly less than 100 men. They came back to San Antonio after the war with less than 20 men.

Sources:

1850, 1860 U.S. census

Texas State Historical Assoc. online

San Antonio Express, June 25, 1869, p. 3, col. 1

San Antonio Express, Feb. 17, 1872, p. 2, col. 4

San Antonio Express, Feb. 9, 1902, p. 8, col. 1

The Harts of San Patricio

John Hart and Felix Hart settled in the San Patricio colony before 1832. They were not directly related, but likely came from the same extended clan in Ireland. We do not know where in Ireland they originated. But, in 1820, most Harts were in County Sligo. According to the Tithe Applotment Books, completed in 1824, there was one Luke Hart in County Sligo, in Calry civil parish. Luke was not a common Irish name, so there may be a connection.

John first came to New York city, where his first two sons, John, Jr. and Luke were born. John, Jr. was born in New York in 1827 and Luke was born in 1829. John, Sr. was not literate. But, coming to the San Patricio colony, John and his wife, Bridget, received a league of land (4428 acres) and a labor (177 acres) in 1831. That land was part of a different colony. John later renounced the grant, as too far up the Nueces river in Lipan Apache country.

Even so, John and Bridget built a picket cabin which was typical of the time period. The cabin was located in what became known as the town of San Patricio. A portion of his property became known as Hart Place, a place where neighbors would gather on the Nueces River, which had no alligators. The neighbors came to Hart Place to do their wash and play hurley. Later, John’s three sons, John, Jr., Luke, applied for grants from the Refugio colony as close to San Patricio as they could manage. [1]

Assassinated

Early in the Texas Revolution, John espoused the cause of the rebels. He hosted some of the rebel leaders at his home. Local Mexicans assassinated John on a lonely road leading to the town of San Patricio in early 1836. He was shot several times and stabbed repeatedly, suggesting a great deal of anger.

By the late 1850’s, frame houses began to replace the picket cabins of the pioneer days. Luke Hart married Ann Hart, daughter of Felix Hart on July 19, 1853. Luke Hart then lived with Ann on Papalote Creek, near what would become the town of Papalote. [2]

Success

By 1860, there were a good many Harts who mostly lived in San Patricio County. In the 1860 census, there is a Patrick Hart married to Anna with a son named Luke. But, this was  probably a different Luke Hart. The San Patricio Irish retained the custom of re-using first names. Patrick Hart was listed as a stockman in the 1860 census. Most of the San Patricio settlers engaged in raising cattle from the outset. The grass land in the area was suited to ranching, not farming. Patrick claimed $4,000 in personal assets and $5,000 on real estate. He was doing very well for the time. Generally, any value above $4,000 would place a person in the upper class for the time.

Locating any of the San Patricio settlers in the 1850 and 1860 censuses is difficult. During times of danger, the families often re-located to Matamoros, Mexico. Matamoros was about 200 miles from San Patricio. During the 1840’s and 1850’s, raids by Mexican bandits and Comanches occurred with some frequency. Luke and his wife, Ann do not appear in the 1860 census. But, they do appear in the 1870 census. In 1870, Luke claims personal assets of $2,000 and $1500 in real estate. For the depressed economy of 1870 Texas, Luke was doing very well. In 1870, he was listed as a merchant. He had a store in Papalote for many years, in addition to his extensive ranch.

We get some idea of the serious depression in 1870 when we look at Patrick’s assets. In 1860, he claimed personal assets of $4,000 and $5,000 in real estate. Those numbers decreased to $500 and $1000 respectively in the 1870 census.

Grassland

In 1860, San Patricio County was ranch country. The terrain was dominated by the scrub brush it has today, but by grassland. They had very few slaves, only 77 persons enslaved in the then very large county. None of the many Harts owned slaves, like most of their Irish neighbors. In 1850, San Patricio County had no slaves. But, in 1850, the county was still largely not inhabited. Most of the residents had evacuated to Matamoros. In 1860, there were only seven slaves in the town of San Patricio. The largest number of slaves were found in the town of Ingleside, a town located on the bay, which accounted for 46 of the 77 slaves in San Patricio County. [3]

Civil War

In July, 1861, Luke enlisted in Capt. William Miller’s Home Guards Company. William Miller was a resident of San Patricio himself. This appears to have been a militia for home defense. Luke enlisted with one six-shooter, one rifle and 50 rounds of ammunition. [4]

Hobby’s Battalion

In 1862, Luke Hart enlisted in the 8th Texas Infantry, commanded by William P. Hobby. The unit was sometimes known as Hobby’s Battalion or as Hobby’s Regiment. Luke was in Capt. P.H. Breeden’s company, Co. C. He enlisted at Goliad, Texas in May, 1862. He did not join during those first, heady days of April and May, 1861. That suggests he was not an ardent secessionist. He was 34 years old at the time. Hobby’s Battalion saw action at the Battle of Corpus Christi in the summer and Fall of 1862 and the Battle of St. Joseph’s Island in May, 1863.

In November, 1863, Luke was marked as AWOL. By the standards of the time if had just left to go take care of business at the ranch, he would not have been designated as AWOL. In January, 1864, he was marked as AWOL in San Patricio County. So, he appears to have gone home to take of business. Hobby’s Regiment was ordered to Galveston in December, 1863. He may have left the Battalion, to avoid leaving his home so far away. [5]

Yet, sometime after this point, Luke Hart raised his own troop of calvary and traveled as far as Louisiana when the Civil War ended. Luke Hart was long known to his family as Capt. Hart, apparently due to this troop of cavalry. [6]

In 1871, Luke Hart and two other Hart families sold land to Bishop C.M. DuBuis for a Catholic church. Most of the residents in that part of Papalote were Catholic.ry. [6]

Luke Hart would eventually own some 10,000 acres in and around Papalote. He served as Bee County Clerk. He was elected one of five County Commissioners for Bee County in 1880. Luke died Dec. 6, 1883 in Papalote. [7]

Cornbread

An old story told about the Harts concerned a son of David Craven. David married Catherine Hart. When WW I first started, Great Britain sent thousands of soldiers to Europe. Britain had trouble feeding its troops. So, U.S. Pres. Wilson asked Americans to eat less wheat and eat more cornbread. He hoped to send the wheat to Britain. The son of David Craven lived  in Bee County, in South Texas. He ate cornbread every day at each meal. The son loved cornbread. When he heard Pres. Wilson’s request to help Britain, he announced to his family that from now on, they would eat wheat bread at every meal every day. David Craven was not Irish. It is likely that the anti-British sentiment originated with the Harts.

[1] Rachel Bluntzer Hebert, The Forgotten Colony: San Patricio de Hibernia (Burnet, Texas: Eakin Press 1981), pp. 171-182.

[2] The Forgotten Colony: San Patricio de Hibernia, pp. 171-182.

[3] 1860 Slave Schedule

[4] Civil War Muster Rolls Index Cards, 1838-1900.

[5] Service Records, Confederate States of America

[6] Notes of discussion with Alfred T. Otto, this author’s grandfather, in the author’s possession.

[7] Galveston Weekly News, Nov. 25, 1880, p. 7; Old Papalote Cemetery, grave markers

The Sunday Newspaper

On May 25, 1862, Clara received her favorite hobby, the Sunday newspaper. But, on this Sunday, her beloved Daily Delta newspaper had a new motto: “The Union – it must and shall be preserved.” The young Clara was horrified. She told the newspaper boy to take it away. He apologized, saying they were compelled to sell the newspaper. “They” – apparently meaning the Federal authorities – made them sell the newspaper. They have ruined his business, he added. Clara liked his sense of patriotism.

Clara described the Delta as a Yankee newspaper. It was, she said, formerly a secession newspaper. Clara handed the newspaper to her mother when she descended the stairs, “Ain’t you glad that the Delta is restored to us?” she asked sarcastically. Her mother was just as horrified by the new motto.

Yellow Jack

A day later, Clara appreciates the cooler weather, but wishes it was hotter. She knew that hotter weather would bring disease and yellow fever. Yellow jack, she hoped, would kill some of the many Yankee soldiers then invading her city. “God is just,” she reminded herself. “In him is our trust.” More Union soldiers arrived every day, she lamented.

House Servants

She notes the many “house-servants” who were kindly treated, yet deserted their families. She was referring to house slaves who left for freedom. She assured herself she would inflict severe punishment if one of her servants deserted her. And, in truth, the family did have one slave, Lucy, who stayed with the family until long after the war. The population of the city changed dramatically during the Yankee occupation. Slaves came from all over South Louisiana for freedom under Union protection. Historians tell us the percentage of black populace increased dramatically during this time period. Clara might have trouble understanding persons seeking freedom. To modern ears, that sounds so strange.

Looking back 150 years later, as we can, we note that Clara never referred to house slaves as “slaves.” To the young Clara, they were always “servants.” It was those little things, perhaps, that helped the otherwise decent people live with that most indecent of institutions.

Source:

Elliott Ashkenazi , ed., The Civil War Diary of Clara Solomon (Baton Rouge: LSU Press 1995), p. 380-384.

Old Relationships, Part 8

What of the slaves who served the McHattons faithfully for years? Cuba and Spain had outlawed slavery long before the Mchattons arrived. Zell and Martha were free once the McHattons arrived in Mexico. The McHattons then moved to Cuba and purchased the sugar plantation that became their home. Zell and Martha were free in Cuba, as they were in Mexico. At the Cuba plantation, the family encountered bandits, a violent uprising by Chinese “coolies,” a hurricane and the more mundane hard work necessary to start a plantation in a strange country. Through all those adventures, Zell was right there, bravely defending the family.

James and Eliza tried to teach Zell to read and write. But, he resisted. Yet, Zell learned to speak Spanish better than James or Eliza. He became their interpreter. When Zell became a young man, Eliza noticed he was looking at women differently. She suggested he open a bank account, if he wanted to marry. She wanted to help Zell safeguard the money he had accumulated. Zell married and started a family. After some ten years in Cuba, James and Eliza returned to the United States. They came to miss the company of others who they could understand better and they missed their “fatherland.”

But, Zell stayed in Cuba with his family. Eliza and James helped him reach an agreed contract with the new owners of the plantation. Zell sent the McHattons letters every year, always written by one of the Spanish workers at the old plantation. He relayed news of the neighborhood and the plantation. And, he always signed his letters “Your devoted and faithful slave (esclavo).” Even then, the common expression was “Your devoted and faithful servant (serviento).” Eliza assumed the word “servant” did not express enough for Zell.

Zell died a few years later. Eliza was not shy in her book. She insisted he was no slave, but their faithful friend.

In the U.S., the McHattons helped Martha apply her accumulated savings to buy a house in Virginia, close enough for the McHattons, then living in New York, to visit Martha every year. Eliza would say after Martha’s passing that she was no slave but a companion who was a tender, faithful soul. And, she was their last connection to a long ago way of life.

Eliza McHatton-Ripley, From Flag to Flag (United Kingdom: Dodo Press 2009) (reprint), pp. 187, 189.

Be Safe.

The Sacking of Baton Rouge, Part 4

The City of Baton Rouge was not of high strategic value. After some weeks of occupation, the Yankees simply left the city. The fleet of gunboats and transportation barges loaded with freed slaves steamed off to New Orleans. This was the beginning of a mass migration of freed African-American slaves making their way to the Federal occupied city of New Orleans. Eliza reports that many freed female slaves abandoned their babies to leave for the Crescent City. I expect that means they left their babies with family members or friends until they could return. One morning the gunboats and transportation barges were simply gone.

Eliza does not know, but she believed at the time that the damage in the City of Baton Rouge was caused not just by the departing Union soldiers but also by what she describes as brutal and ignorant freed slaves. Certainly, there are many contemporary accounts of freed slaves abusing their new found freedom. Perhaps, today we cannot blame them so much for reacting to sudden freedom. But, the Federals even then were responsible under accepted rules of war to maintain order. The Federal authorities often allowed the freed slaves to get away with criminal behavior.

The Baton Rouge residents were not allowed into the city until after the place had been sacked. Eliza and James ventured inside Baton Rouge days after the Federals had evacuated. They went inside the home of Judge Thomas G. Morgan, a native of Pennsylvania. Eliza and James found portraits, family heirlooms, some Revolutionary War era, slashed by Union sabers. Throughout the city, they found tall shade trees cut down and tossed across the streets. Contents of store closets at Judge Morgan’s house were dumped on the floor. Molasses, vinegar, everything that could deface and cause a stain had been smeared on the walls and furniture. Judge Morgan was not a secessionist, although three of his sons did serve in the Confederate army. Unlike many slave-owners, Judge Morgan taught his slaves to read and write. His daughter, Sarah, would later write a diary of the war years.

Upstairs in Judge Morgan’s house, the armoires had all been knocked over and smashed. The dainty dresses of the young women had all been shredded and torn. China, toilet articles and bits of glass that had been used to decorate the rooms were strewn about the beds and ground into a mass of fragments. Family records and the contents of desks in Judge Morgan’s house and that of his neighbors were strewn about the streets. Precious family papers were blowing in the wind. Family records from innumerable Bibles were found on the sidewalks of the city.

After seeing Judge Morgan’s house, knowing if this could happen at his house, then the rest of the city was likely worse, Eliza was heart-sick. She could not inspect another home. After seeing the destruction, James sent many of his slaves to Eliza’s brother’s plantation in Texas.  This move violated Federal rules. James knew this could lead to him being arrested. Under Yankee rule, arrests were common and often arbitrary.

Eliza believed that moving the slaves would ensure the slaves could work and earn some food. It would also remove slaves who, she said, were becoming “discontent” and dangerous. She was likely describing slaves who were starting to view the Federals not as the enemy, but as potential saviors. Because they broke one of the Federal rules – not moving “contraband” – the McHattons made preparations to leave on a moment’s notice.

Eliza McHatton-Ripley, From Flag to Flag (United Kingdom: Dodo Press 2009) (reprint), pp. 28-31

John Mitchel, Twice a Rebel

One of the remarkable persons in Irish history was John Mitchel. He was born in northern Ireland in 1815, son of Unitarian clergyman. His father had been a United Irishman, meaning he supported the rebellion in 1798. John attended Trinity University in Dublin. He practiced as a solicitor until he became editor of the Nation, a newspaper in Dublin. He supported the repeal movement, which advocated repealing the union between Ireland and Britain. He became one of those young men who surrounded the Great Liberator, Daniel O’Connell. Mr. O’Connell’s overarching goal was to repeal the union, so Ireland would once again have its own parliament.

In 1846, Mitchel, Thomas Meagher, and others, separated themselves from Mr. O’Connell, believing his more peaceful methods were too slow.  They formed the Irish Confederation. Soon, Mitchel withdrew from that group, as well. He started a new newspaper, the United Irishmen. Issuing flaming rhetoric, he advocated violent change in Ireland. He called for a holy war to wipe the English name from the Irish isle. Within weeks, he was arrested. He was sentenced to 14 years transportation – meaning he would be exiled to the Australian colony.

Soon, Thomas Meagher and other members of Young Ireland were also sentenced to Australia. They were allowed to live in the community on parole. Meagher, Mitchel and the other Young Irelanders became fast friends. With help from a friend from New York, Mitchel escaped and came to the U.S. He arrived in New York to a hero’s welcome. Bands played, crowds cheered, the Napper Tandy Light Artillery gave him a 31-gun salute. Within weeks, however, Mr. Mitchel offended his hosts. Mr. Mitchel never shrunk from controversy. He alienated the Irish born Archbishop, John Hughes for his support of the papacy’s temporal powers. He grievously offended abolitionists with his open support of slavery. Abolitionists tended to be Evangelical and puritan, which was antithetical to his Presbyterian views. And, many Abolitionists tended to be nativists who disliked the Irish. A friend suggested he be more judicious with his public pronouncements. He responded, “they might as well whistle jigs to a milestone.” Milestones were (and still are) those stones on English and Irish roadways marking the distance traveled.

Mr. Mitchel visited the South. He found their views on slavery consistent with his. He settled in Tennessee in 1855 and bought a farm. By 1857, he and his family were living in Knoxville, where Mitchel started a newspaper and earned money giving lectures. Mitchel’s views on slavery strengthened. He believed the Negro race was inferior, as did many so-called learned men of the day. He believed slavery was good for the slaves, as much for society in general. He started a newspaper advocating slavery and seeking to re-open the African slave trade. Even in the South at the time, most educated Southerners opposed the African slave trade on moral grounds. Some Southern newspapers denounced him and his views. They believed he was playing into the hands of the northern abolitionists. Mitchel believed the North was trying to impose its views on the South, just as England imposed its views on the Irish.

Mitchel went to Europe in 1859, thinking a breach between England and France might help Ireland. That hope did not materialize. He stayed in Paris. As the states began to secede in 1861, he approved. When war broke out in May, 1861, his two oldest sons enlisted. Mitchel returned to American in 1862 with his youngest son, Willie. Willie also wanted to join the Confederate cause.

They crossed over near Baltimore, evading Federal patrol boats. Willie immediately joined the First Virginia Infantry with one of his brothers, James. Mr. Mitchel himself tried to enlist, but was turned away due to near-sightedness. He did serve with an ambulance unit and performed occasional guard duty. John Mitchel then became the editor of the Richmond Daily Enquirer. He wrote scathing editorials of the Emancipation Proclamation and about Lincoln. He believed the proclamation would incite slaves to rebel, which would get them killed. He denounced Lincoln as the common enemy of “both black and white.”

When some generals, such as Robert E. Lee and Patrick Cleburne (another native of Ireland) supported making slaves soldiers in return for their freedom, Mitchel opposed the move. He noted, ironically we would say today, that if blacks could serve as soldiers, then Southern society had been wrong about slavery from the start. “Duh,” we might add today.

Mitchel’s old friend, Thomas Francis Meagher, became commander of the famed New York 69th Regiment, the Irish Brigade. At the Battle of Fredericksburg in 1862, the Federal 69th Regiment faced off against the 1st Virginia Regiment with Willie and his brother, James. John Mitchel visited his sons and cursed his inability to participate. The Irish Brigade advanced over and over, lead often by Meagher himself, and were mown down. The 1st Virginia fell under Gen. Pickett. Pickett wrote his wife that as he watched their green flag advance again and again, “his heart almost stood still as he watched those sons of Erin . . . My darling, we forgot they were fighting us, and cheer after cheer at their fearlessness went up along our lines.” Meagher watched as some 90% of his brigade was killed or wounded.

In subsequent battles, Willie Mitchel was killed. The 1st Virginia under Gen. Pickett was there at the Battle of Gettysburg and suffered its own horrendous charge. Willie died bravely, seizing the colors as its bearer was about to fall. Although wounded, he carried the Regimental flag forward until he was cut down himself. John Mitchel wrote that Willie died in honorable company and could have asked for no more an enviable fate. Upon learning that a son of John Mitchel had fallen, Irish soldiers on the Union side made particular effort to look for his body, but did not locate it.

As the war dragged on, Mitchel became increasingly disillusioned with Jefferson Davis’ leadership, as did many Southerners. Moving to a second newspaper in 1863, Mitchel became a regular critic of Jeff Davis. He also wrote for some Irish newspapers. In a letter to the Nation in Dublin, he applauded the bravery of Irish soldiers fighting for the Union army. But, he added, they were dupes, fooled by false promises of land in the South and said they were fighting for a government that despised them.

As U.S. Grant assumed control of the Federal army, casualties mounted. John Mitchel’s ambulance unit saw carnage and horror. He observed the horror, but noted that he never saw cowardice and found delight as people were roused in this way, determined to meet their fate. He denounced Grant as a butcher willing to sacrifice four Federal soldiers to kill one Confederate.

In 1864, John Mitchel learned that his eldest son, John, was killed at Ft. Sumter. James was now the only son still alive and he had lost an arm. Probably to spare the family further grief, James was transferred to a staff post in Richmond.

After the war, James moved to New York and become a city fire marshal. His son, James Purroy Mitchel will be elected mayor of New York in 1913.

When Lee surrenders, Mitchel will be one of those die-hards who refuse to admit the war is over. He evacuates to Danville, Georgia with some members of the Confederate government. After the last Confederate force surrendered in May, 1864, Mitchel returned to New York, where he thought he could earn a living. Many New Yorkers insisted John Mitchel be arrested. Some claimed Mitchel had advocated mis-treatment of Union prisoners. Mitchel responded by denouncing the harsh conditions in which Jeff Davis was then being kept. He was arrested in June for an allegedly seditious article he had written.

His prison cell was damp, which made his asthma much worse. The food was not edible and he could not exercise. He could not write. The prison doctor warned that Mitchel’s prison conditions were not improved, he would die. The authorities relented and let him walk, have materials with which to write, and gave him better food. Mitchel was now stooped, haggard and looked much older than his 50 years. Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis praised him as a gallant gentlemen. Many leading Irish-Americans and Fenian veterans from the Union army complained about his treatment. He was released in October, 1865. His lawyers told him that he if said anything offensive, he would likely be arrested, again. They recommended that he move to Europe until passions cooled in the U.S. John Mitchel responded that he had now been imprisoned for expressing his views by the two states in the western world that most prided themselves on progressive and liberal ideals. “They are both in the wrong; but then, if I am able to put them in the wrong, they are able to put me in the dungeon.”

To get him out of the U.S., the Fenians made him their financial agent in Paris. In the remaining ten years of his life, he was more subdued and contemplative. He acknowledged that his support of the Confederacy, while a good cause, had cost him two sons, for a country that was not theirs. Like many Irish rebels, he gave the best part of his life to the cause of another country. Shortly before his death in 1875, he was elected to Parliament from his old home town in northern Ireland, without opposition.

Today, John Mitchel is often the forgotten revolutionary. His views lead directly to the Fenian movement, which in turn lead to the IRA in 1916. But, his views on slavery have become hard to swallow in a country, where the Irish Catholics themselves were enslaved at times. See here for a biography of John Mitchel.

Source: “Southern Citizen: John Mitchel, the Confederacy and slavery,History Ireland, Vol. 15, Issue 3, May/June 2007.

 

The Sunday Newspaper

On May 25, 1862, Clara received her favorite hobby, the Sunday newspaper. But, on this Sunday, her beloved Daily Delta newspaper had a new motto: “The Union – it must and shall be preserved.” The young Clara was horrified. She told the newspaper boy to take it away. He apologized, saying they were compelled to sell the newspaper. “They” – apparently meaning the Federal authorities – made them sell the newspaper. They have ruined his business, he added. Clara liked his sense of patriotism.

Clara described the Delta as a Yankee newspaper. It was, she said, formerly a secession newspaper. Clara handed the newspaper to her mother when she descended the stairs, “Ain’t you glad that the Delta is restored to us?” she asked sarcastically. Her mother was just as horrified by the new motto.

A day later, Clara appreciates the cooler weather, but wishes it was hotter. She knew that hotter weather would bring disease and yellow fever. Yellow jack, she hoped, would kill some of the many Yankee soldiers then invading her city. “God is just,” she reminded herself. “In him is our trust.” More Union soldiers arrived everyday, she lamented.

She notes the many “house-servants” who were kindly treated, yet deserted their families. She was referring to house slaves who left for freedom. She assured herself she would inflict severe punishment if one of her servants deserted her. And, in truth, the family did have one slave, Lucy, who stayed with the family until long after the war. The population of the city changed dramatically during the Yankee occupation. Slaves came from all over South Louisiana for freedom under Union protection. Historians tell us the percentage of black populace increased dramatically during this time period. Clara might have trouble understanding persons seeking freedom. Too modern ears, that sounds so strange.

Looking back 150 years later, as we can, we note that Clara never referred to house slaves as “slaves.” To the young Clara, they were always “servants.” It was those little things, perhaps, that helped the otherwise decent people live with that indecent institution.

Elliott Ashkenazi , ed., The Civil War Diary of Clara Solomon (Baton Rouge: LSU Press 1995), p. 380-384.