Foreigners Serving the Confederacy
The following is historian Dwight Dumond’s book review of Ella Lonn’s “Foreigners in the Confederacy found in the North Carolina Historical Review, Vol. XVIII, No. 1, January 1941. pp. 85-86.
Foreigners in the Confederacy. By Ella Lonn. (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press. 1940.
“This record of the services rendered to the Confederate States of America by foreigners and by foreign-born citizens will take rank as one of the foremost contributions to the mounting volume of revisionist literature in that field of American history. In it we have presented, for the first time, an adequate appraisal of the importance of a large segment of the Southern population. It might not be too much to say that, for the first time, we have been told of its existence; and the telling has shattered some venerable traditions.
Foreign immigration into the United States during the two decades preceding the Civil War did not go entirely to the free states. In 1860 the foreign-born in Mobile constituted twenty- five per cent of the white population, in Charleston thirty per cent, in Savannah thirty-three per cent, in New Orleans forty per cent, in Memphis forty-two per cent. There were 3,263 Irish in Charleston, 3,100 in Savannah, 4,100 in Memphis. In New Orleans there were 24,398 Irish, 19,752 Germans, and 10,564 French. There were 43,464 Irish and 88,487 Germans in Arkansas. Ten per cent of the people in Texas were born under a foreign flag. Many races were represented among the 250,000 foreign-born in the Confederate States with Irish, German, French, and English predominating. They were slave- holding planters, merchants, professional men, skilled craftsmen, and unskilled workers.
Having discussed the geographical distribution of the several racial groups in her first chapter, Miss Lonn then traces their relationship to every aspect of the intersectional conflict. There is an excellent chapter on their divergent and changing attitudes toward slavery and secession; there are long accounts of the prominent military and civil officials under the Confederacy; and there is a chapter on military companies of foreign-born and one on foreign-born adventurers. The array of such prominent men is imposing – cabinet members Benjamin, Memminger, and Mallory; diplomats and special commissioners Henry Hotze, Father John Bannon, Reverend Patrick N. Lynch, and John A. Quintero; officers Patrick R. Cleburne, Prince de Polignac, Heros von Borcke, and a host of others; and entire companies of French, Polish, Italian, Spanish, and Irish troops, including the famous German Fusiliers of Charleston, the Emerald Guards of Mobile, and the Louisiana Zouaves.
Finally, there are three outstanding chapters dealing with the contributions of the foreign-born in special fields of military service such as engineering, secret service, ordnance, and medicine; with foreigners of distinction as teachers in schools and colleges, as businessmen, and as manufacturers; and with Confederate legislation and diplomatic conversations respecting foreigners in particular reference to citizenship and conscription.
It is a remarkable book, excellently documented, containing a splendid bibliography, and, considering the enormous quantity of facts and statistics presented, written with a pleasing style that excites admiration.
DWIGHT L. DUMOND