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Cuban and Other Hispanic, and Minorities - Confederate Soldiers

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  • Philip Swire (c.1827 - 1912)
    Philip Swire who lived in Baton Rouge, LA until he died in 1912. His wife was Anna Kean and they had children Fanny, Walter, Maria, Roger Philip, Sterling B. and others who died young. Philip came to t...
  • Colonel Ambrosio José González (CSA) (1818 - 1893)
    José Gonzales (October 3, 1818 – July 31, 1893) was a Cuban revolutionary general who became a colonel in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War. Gonzales, as a revolutionary, wanted the Un...
  • Edouard Gardere (aft.1845 - 1878)
    A member of the Spring Hill Cadets 89th Alabama Militia. His rank is unknown. The family of Edouard Gardere lived at 145 Conti Street, in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1861. The family was in the sawmill ...

This is a project to identify all known Cuban Confederate Soldiers, as well as other Hispanics and Minorities who served in the Confederate Military.

The number of soldiers listed has grown to 6,175 men. (See Rosales' references below).

Hispanics in the American Civil War fought on both the Union and Confederate sides of the conflict. Not all the Hispanics who fought in the American Civil War were "Hispanic-Americans", in other words citizens of the United States. Many of them were Spanish subjects or nationals from countries in the Caribbean, Central and South America. Some were born in a US Territory and therefore did not have the right to US Citizenship. It is estimated that approximately 3,500 Hispanics, mostly Mexican-Americans, Puerto Ricans and Cubans (Puerto Rico and Cuba were Spanish colonies) living in the United States joined the war: 2,500 for the Confederacy and 1,000 for the Union. This number increased to 10,000 by the end of the war.

Hispanic is an ethnic term employed to categorize any citizen or resident of the United States, of any racial background, of any country, and of any religion, who has at least one ancestor from the people of Spain or is of non-Hispanic origin, but has an ancestor from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Central or South America, or some other Hispanic origin. The three largest Hispanic groups in the United States are the Mexican-Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Cubans.[1]

The Union Army was the land force that fought for the Union during the American Civil War. It was also known as the "Federal Army", the "U.S. Army", the "Northern Army" and the "National Army".[2] It consisted of the small United States Army (the regular army), augmented by massive numbers of units supplied by the Northern states, composed of volunteers as well as conscripts.

The "New Mexico Volunteer Infantry", with 157 Hispanics officers, was the Union Unit with the most officers of that ethnic background. Besides Colonel Miguel E. Pino and Lieutenant Colonel Jose Maria Valdez who belonged to the 2nd New Mexico Volunteer Infantry, the New Mexico Volunteer Infantry also included Colonel Diego Archuleta (eventually promoted to Brig. Gen.), the commanding officer of the First New Mexico Volunteer Infantry, Colonel Jose G. Gallegos commander of the Third New Mexico Volunteer Infantry, and Lieutenant Colonel Francisco Perea, who commanded Perea's Militia Battalion.[3]

Another unit which was composed of Hispanics was D Company "The Spanish Company" of the Garibaldi Guard, 39th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment. The company served until July 1, 1865, when it was mustered out at Alexandria. They lost during its term of service 119 by death from wounds, and 159 by death from accident, imprisonment or disease, of whom 94 died in prison.[4]

The Confederate Congress provided for a Confederate States Army patterned after the United States Army. It was to consist of a large provisional force to exist only in time of war and a small permanent regular army. The provisional, volunteer army was established by an act of the Confederate Congress passed February 28, 1861, one week before the act which established the permanent regular army organization, passed March 6, 1861. Although the two forces were to exist concurrently, little was done to organize the Confederate regular army.[5]

Amongst the Confederate units, who either had a significant number of Hispanics or were composed entirely of Hispanics were the 5th Regiment (Spanish Regiment) of the "European Brigade", "Cazadores Espanoles Regiment" and the "Louisiana Tigers", all from Louisiana; the "Spanish Guards" and the "55th Infantry" both from Alabama and "Florida's 2nd Infantry".[6][7]

Hispanics held various grades of ranks in the military, the highest being full Admiral of the Union Navy. Three Hispanics were awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest military decoration for heroism awarded by the United States. Hispanic women also participated, such was the case of Loreta Janeta Velazquez, a Cuban woman who disguised as a male, fought and spied for the confederacy even after her gender was discovered a second time.[8][9]

Confederate Forces

  • Colonel Ambrosio José Gonzales (1818–1893) - Gonzales, a native Cuban, became a U.S. Citizen in 1849 and settled in Beaufort, South Carolina. Gonzales was active during the bombardment of Fort Sumter and because of his actions was appointed Lt. Colonel of artillery and assigned to duty as Chief of Artillery in the department of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. Gonzales, who served as a special aide to the governor of South Carolina, submitted plans for the defense of the coastal areas of his homeland state. According to Major D. Leadbetter in a letter to the Secretary of War:

"The project of auxiliary coast defense herewith, as submitted by Col. A. J. Gonzales, though not thought to be everywhere applicable, is believed to be of great value under special circumstances. In the example assumed at Edisto Island, where the movable batteries rest on defensive works and are themselves scarcely exposed to surprise and capture, a rifled 24-pounder, with two small guns, rallying and reconnoitering from each of the fixed batteries, would prove invaluable. A lighter gun than the 24-pounder, and quite as efficient, might be devised for such service, but this is probably the best now available. Colonel Gonzales’ proposed arrangements for re-enforcing certain exposed and threatened maritime Posts seem to be judicious and to merit attention."

Gonzales was able to fend off Union gunboat attempts to destroy railroads and other important points on the Carolina coast by placing his heavy artillery on special carriages for increased mobility. On November 30, 1864, Gonzales served as Artillery Commander at the Battle of Honey Hill. The Battle of Honey Hill was the third battle of Sherman's March to the Sea fought in Savannah, Georgia.[29] Confederate President Jefferson Davis declined Gonzales's request for promotion to general six times. Davis' dislike for P. G. T. Beauregard deprived Gonzales of general's rank because he (Gonzales) had served under him. It is also believed that Gonzales's experience with Cuban filibusters, was no recommendation for command, nor were his contentious relationships with Confederate officers in Richmond.[30]

  • Colonel Leonidas M. Martin (1824–1904) - Martin organized and was a Major in the 10th Texas Cavalry. Promoted to Colonel was placed in charge of the 5th Texas Partisan Rangers under the command of Colonel Thomas C. Bass. Martin participated in the Battle of Honey Springs, the largest battle fought in Indian Territory, fought on July 17, 1863. The Union Forces were victorious and a result of the Confederate defeat in this battle was that the Confederates were always short on supplies in the Indian Territory forcing the Texas Cavalry to abandon the territory.[31]
  • Colonel Santos Benavides (1823–1891) - Benavides commanded his own regiment, the "Benavides Regiment." He was the highest ranking Tejano in the Confederate Army. On March 19, 1864, he defended Laredo against the Union's First Texas Cavalry, whose commander was Colonel Edmund J. Davis, a Florida native who had previously offered Benavides a Union generalship, and defeated the Union forces. Probably his greatest contribution to the Confederacy was securing passage of Confederate cotton to Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico, in 1863. On March 18, 1864, Major Alfred Holt led a force of about two hundred men from the command of Col. Davis near Brownsville, Texas to destroy five thousand bales of cotton stacked at the San Agustín Plaza. Colonel Santos Benavides commanded forty-two men and repelled three Union attacks at the Zacate Creek in what is known as the Battle of Laredo.[19][32]
  • Major David Camden DeLeón (1816-1872) - DeLeón a.k.a. "The Fighting Doctor", came from a Sephardic Jewish family. He was the first Hispanic to graduate from an Ivy League School (University of Pennsylvania - 1836). In 1864, he became the first Surgeon General of the Confederate States. The President of the Confederate States Jefferson Davis, assigned him the task of organizing the medical department of the Confederate Army.[18]
  • Captain Michael Philip Usina (1840 - 1903) - was a member of the Confederate States Navy. He was born in St. Augustine, Florida, to Spanish parents. As Captain of several blockade runners, Usina managed to avoid capture on his many successful missions. Usina fought in Co. B in the 8th Georgia Infantry of the Confederate Army before being transferred to the Navy. He was wounded and captured in the Battle of Manassas, but managed to escape and reach the Southern lines.[6][33]

Hispanic women in the Civil War

Many women participated in the American Civil War. Two of the most notable Hispanic women to participate in that conflict were Lola Sánchez and Loreta Janeta Velazquez. The similarities between them were that both were Cuban born and both served for the Confederacy. However, the difference between them was that one served as a spy while the other disguised herself as a male and fought in various battles.

  • Lola Sánchez (1844 - 1895) - Sánchez was born in Armstrong, Florida of Cuban descent. She became upset when her father was accused of being a Confederate spy by the Union Forces and sent to prison. This event angered and inspired her to become a Confederate spy. The Union Army had occupied her residence in Palatka, Florida and she overheard the officer's plans of a raid. She alerted the Confederates under the command of Capt. John Jackson Dickison. Because of the information which she provided, the Confederate soldiers were able to surprise the Union troops, in what became known as the "Battle of Horse Landing",[20] and capture the USS Columbine, a Union warship in the only known incident in US history where a cavalry unit captured and sank an enemy gunboat.[34]
  • Loreta Janeta Velazquez a.k.a. "Lieutenant Harry Buford" (1842–1897) - Velazquez was a Cuban woman who masqueraded as a male Confederate soldier during the Civil War. She enlisted in the Confederate Army in 1861, without her soldier-husband's knowledge. She fought at Bull Run, Ball's Bluff and Fort Donelson, but her gender was discovered while in New Orleans and she was discharged. Undeterred, she reenlisted and fought at Shiloh, until unmasked once more. She then became a spy, working in both male and female guises.[19]

Hispanic Confederate Units

European Brigades and the Louisiana Tigers

The 5th Regiment of the "European Brigade" was a home guard brigade of New Orleans, Louisiana made up of 800 Hispanics who were descendants of immigrants from the Canary Islands. The brigade, under the command of Brigadier General William E. Starke, was assigned to defend the city. Louisiana also had a brigade called the "Cazadores Espanoles Regiment" (Spanish Hunters Regiment)[43] and the "Louisiana Tigers", commanded by Major Chatham Roberdeau Wheat, which had men from Spain, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and other Latin American countries. The brigades fought at the Battles of Antietam and Gettysburg.[6]

The following is a list of the names of some of the Hispanics officers of the 5th Regiment of the "European Brigade": Capt. Domingo Fatjo, Capt. Magin Puig, Capt. Jose Quintana, Capt. A. Pons Valencia, 1st Lt. Jose Albarez, 1st Lt. J. Barba, 1st Lt. John Fernandez, 1st Lt. S. J. Font, 1st Lt. Eduardo Villa, 1st Lt. Antonio Robira, 1st Lt. Antonio Helizo, 2nd Lt. Dormian Campo, 2nd Lt. Lorenzo Carbo, 2nd Lt. J. B. Cassanova, 2nd Lt. Eduardo Deu, 2nd Lt. Juan Fernandez, 2nd Lt. A. Fornaris, 2nd Lt. Valentin Hamsen, 2nd Lt. Juan Parra, 2nd Lt. Antonio Mercadal, 2nd Lt. R. Martinez, 3rd Lt.[note 2] Antonio Barrera, 3rd Lt. Edward Bermudez, 3rd Lt. Jose Bernal, 3rd Lt. Candelario Caceres, 3rd Lt. C. Garcia, 3rd Lt. Bernardo Heres, 3rd Lt. Bernardo Rodriguez, 3rd Lt. Jose Salor and 3rd Lt. F. Suarez.[44]

Among the Hispanic officers of the "Cazadores Espanoles Regiment" are the following: Lt. Col. J. M. Anquera, Capt. Jose Anguera, Capt. S. G. Fabio, 2nd Lt. Ceferino Monasteria, 1st Lt. Vicente Planellas, 1st Lt. L. Roca and Surgeon Francisco Ribot.[44]

The Spanish Guards

The home guard brigade of Mobile, Alabama, made of Hispanics, was called "The Spanish Guards". The guard served as part of the Mobile County Reserves. Even though it was disbanded on April 12, 1865, many of its men joined the other Confederate forces and surrendered with General Richard Taylor, at Citronelle, Alabama, on May 4, 1865. Various brigades which had a significant number of Hispanic soldiers and which fought at the Battles of Antietam and Gettysburg were Alabama's 55th Infantry and Florida's 2nd Infantry.[6]

The following Hispanic officers served with the Alabama forces: Maj. F. A. Moreno, 1st Lt. Andrew J. Pou, 2nd Lt. Jerome Eslava and 2nd Lt,. M. Franciscoa. Lt. Col. William Bayaand and 2nd Lt. Francis Baya served with the Florida Infantry.[6]

Confederate units of Texas

Besides serving in the "Benavides Regiment", many Hispanics who were from Texas served in other units of the Confederate Army. Known as Tejanos, they fought in the Battles of Gaines' Mill, Second Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, the Wilderness, and Appomattox Court House as members of the Sixth and Eighth Texas Infantry and of Hood's Texas Brigade under the command of Col. John Bell Hood. Some Tejanos marched across the deserts of West Texas to secure the Mesilla Valley as members of Charles L. Pyron's company which were later incorporated into Gen. Henry Hopkins Sibley's Confederate Army of New Mexico and fought at the battle of Valverde.[45]

Confederate enlistment

While less successful in attracting foreign recruits to the rebel cause, thousands of immigrants and mercenaries served in the Confederate Army with its own Irish Brigade and Polish Legion as well as several German and Mexican divisions. The most notable volunteer division was formed from various European countries in Louisiana under the command of French Major General Count Camille Armand Jules Marie, Prince de Polignac. Other prominent volunteers included Scottish born blockade runner Captain William Watson.