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December 22, 2014 / 30 Kislev, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘Union’

General Grant’s Expulsion Of The Jews

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

Note: Unless otherwise indicated all quotes are from http://www.ajhs.org/publications/chapters/chapter.cfm?documentID=215


 

Introduction

While the Civil War was raging at the end of 1862, General Ulysses S. Grant sent the following letter to the Assistant Secretary of War:

HDQES. THIRTEENTH A. C., DEPT. OF THE TENN.,
Oxford, Miss., December 17, 1862.

HON. C. P. Wolcott, Assistant Secretary of War, Washington, D. C.:

I have long since believed that in spite of all vigilance that can be infused into post commanders, the specie regulations of the Treasury Department have been violated, and that mostly by Jews and other unprincipled traders. So well satisfied have I been of this that I instructed the commanding officer at Columbus to refuse all permits to Jews to come South, and I have frequently had them expelled from the department, but they come in with their carpet-sacks in spite of all that can be done to prevent it. The Jews seem to be a privileged class that can travel everywhere. They will land at any wood-yard on the river and make their way through the country. If not permitted to buy cotton themselves they will act as agents for someone else, who will be at a military post with a Treasury permit to receive cotton and pay for it in Treasury notes which the Jew will buy up at an agreed rate, paying gold.

There is but one way that I know of to reach this case; that is, for the Government to buy all the cotton at a fixed rate and send it to Cairo, Saint Louis, or some other point to be sold. Then all traders (they are a curse to the army) might be expelled.
U. S. GRANT,
Major-General[1]

On the same day Grant issued an order that was to lead to the most blatant official episode of anti-Semitism in America during the nineteenth century. His order read:


GENERAL ORDERS No. 11.
HDQRS. 13TH A. C., DEPT. OF THE TENN.,
Holly Springs, December 17, 1862.

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 within twenty-four hours from the receipt of this order.

Post commanders will see that all of this class of people be furnished passes and required to leave, and any one 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 for trade permits.

By order of Maj. Gen. U.S. Grant:
JNO. A. RAWLINS,
Assistant Adjutant-General. [2]

This order expelled all Jews from Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi!

Subordinates enforced the order at once in the area surrounding Grant’s headquarters in Holly Springs, Mississippi. Some Jewish traders had to trudge forty miles on foot to evacuate the area. In Paducah, Kentucky, military officials gave the town’s thirty Jewish families — all long-term residents, none of them speculators, and at least two of them Union Army veterans — twenty-four hours to leave.

The Reason for the Expulsion

During the Civil Was the North and the South actually remained to some extent economically dependent upon each other. Part of this dependence was tied to the use by Northern textile mills of Southern cotton to make uniforms and tents for the Union army. The Union military command wanted an outright ban on trade with the South, but President Lincoln decided to allow limited trade in Southern cotton. This led to a raging black market in this commodity.

To control that trade, Lincoln insisted the Treasury Department and the Army license it. As commander of the Department of the Tennessee, Grant was charged with issuing trade licenses in his area. As cotton prices soared in the North, unlicensed traders bribed Union officers to allow them to buy Southern cotton without a permit. As one exasperated correspondent told the Secretary of War, “Every colonel, captain or quartermaster is in a secret partnership with some operator in cotton; every soldier dreams of adding a bale of cotton to his monthly pay.”

In the fall of 1862 Grant’s superiors pressured him to capture Vicksburg, Mississippi. Doing this would give the Union control of the entire Mississippi River and effectively cut the Confederacy in half.

This task was not an easy one, since Vicksburg was heavily defended by Southern troops, and Grant wanted to devote his full attentions to it. Therefore he resented the fact that he also had to control the corrupt cotton trade.

Merchants seeking trade permits besieged his headquarters. When Grant’s own father appeared one day seeking trade licenses for a group of Cincinnati merchants, some of whom were Jews, Grant’s frustration boiled over.

A handful of the corrupt traders were Jews, although the great majority was not. In the emotional climate of the war zone, ancient prejudices flourished. The terms “Jew,” “profiteer,” “speculator,” and “trader” were employed interchangeably. Union commanding General Henry W. Halleck linked “traitors and Jew peddlers.” Grant shared Halleck’s mentality, describing “the Israelites” as “an intolerable nuisance.”

The Order is Rescinded

Needless to say, Jewish efforts to get Grant’s order rescinded were not long in coming.  A group of Jewish merchants residing in Paducah, KY, dispatched an indignant telegram to President Lincoln, condemning Grant’s order.

            PADUCAH, KY.,
December 29, 1862.

Hon. ABRAHAM LINCOLN,
President of the United States:

General Orders, No. 11, issued by General Grant at Oxford, Miss., December the 17th, commands all post commanders to expel all Jews, without distinction, within twenty-four hours, from his entire department. The undersigned, good and loyal citizens of the United States and residents of this town for many years, engaged in legitimate business as merchants, feel greatly insulted and outraged by this inhuman order, the carrying out of which would be the grossest violation of the Constitution and our rights as good citizens under it, and would place us, besides a large number of other Jewish families of this town, as outlaws before the whole world. We respectfully ask your immediate attention to this enormous outrage on all law and humanity, and pray for your effectual and immediate interposition. We would respectfully refer you to the post commander and post adjutant as to our loyalty, and to all respectable citizens of this community as to our standing citizens and merchants. We respectfully ask for immediate instructions to be sent to the commander of this post.

D. WOLFF & BROS.
C. F. KASKELL.
J. W. KASWELL.[3]
Cesar Kaskel arrived in Washington on January 3, 1863. Two days earlier, the Emancipation Proclamation had gone into effect. Kaskel conferred with influential Jewish Republican Adolphus Solomons and then went with Cincinnati Congressman John A. Gurley directly to the White House. Lincoln received them promptly, studied Kaskel’s copies of General Order No. 11 and the specific order expelling Kaskel from Paducah and commanded Halleck to order Grant to revoke General Order No. 11. Grant complied three days later.

The issue of Grant’s anti-Semitism was raised during his run for the presidency in 1868. Grant consulted with a number of Jewish communal leaders, and they went on record saying his issuance of General Order 11 was an anomaly and that he was not an anti-Semite. Grant claimed that Order 11 was prepared by a subordinate, and he had signed it without reading it.

The general carried the Jewish vote during this presidential election and maintained good relations with the Jewish community throughout his presidency.  He was the first president to invite a Jew to become a member of his cabinet[4], and invited Jews to the White House, where he entertained them socially. In 1876 he attended the opening of Adas Israel Congregation in Washington, DC, and stayed for the service, unlike some Jews who left after the dedication ceremony.

According to family legend, Grant ate only kosher meat during the last few years of life.  He did this after having read Vindication of the Israelitisch Way of Killing Animals by Rabbi Aaron Zev Friedman.[5]

[1] General Ulysses S. Grant and the Jews by Joseph Lebowich, Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society, 1909, 17, AJHS Journal, pages 71 – 80. This article is available at http://ajhs.org/reference/adaje.cfm

 

      Dr. Yitzchok Levine, a frequent contributor to The Jewish Press, is a professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New Jersey. “Glimpses Into American Jewish History” appears the first week of each month. Dr. Levine can be contacted at llevine@stevens.edu 

Shame of the Yankees – America’s Worst Anti-Jewish Action

Wednesday, November 15th, 2006

This year, the second day of Chanukah will coincide with the 144th anniversary of the worst official act of anti-Semitism in American history.


On December 17, 1862, in the midst of the Civil War, Union general Ulysses S. Grant issued his infamous “General Order # 11,” expelling all Jews “as a class” from his conquered territories within 24 hours. Henry Halleck, the Union general-in-chief, wired Grant in support of his action, saying that neither he nor President Lincoln were opposed “to your expelling traitors and Jew peddlers.”


A few months earlier, on August 11, General William Tecumseh Sherman had warned in a letter to the adjutant general of the Union Army that “the country will swarm with dishonest Jews” if continued trade in cotton were encouraged. And Grant also issued orders in November 1862 banning travel in general, by “the Israelites especially,” because they were “such an intolerable nuisance,” and railroad conductors were told that “no Jews are to be permitted to travel on the railroad.”


As a result of Grant’s expulsion order, Jewish families were forced out of their homes in Paducah, Kentucky, and Holly Springs and Oxford, Mississippi – and a few were sent to prison. When some Jewish victims protested to President Lincoln, Attorney General Edward Bates advised the president that he was indifferent to such objections.


Lincoln rescinded Grant’s odious order, but not before Jewish families in the area had been humiliated, terrified, and jailed, and some stripped of their possessions.


Captain Philip Trounstine of the Ohio Volunteer Cavalry, being unable in good conscience to round up and expel his fellow Jews, resigned his army commission, saying he could “no longer bear the taunts and malice of his fellow officers brought on by that order.”


The officials responsible for the United States government’s most vicious anti-Jewish actions ever were never dismissed, admonished or, apparently, even officially criticized for the religious persecution they inflicted on innocent citizens.


Northern Animus, Southern Hospitality


The exact reason for Grant’s decree remains uncertain. As author and military historian Mel Young points out in his book Where They Lie, Grant’s own family was involved in cotton speculation (as well as owning slaves), so perhaps he considered Jewish traders to be competition. And the language spoken by the many Dutch and German-speaking peddlers and merchants in the area was probably confused with Yiddish and many were mistakenly taken to be Jewish.


But most likely the underlying reason for the order was the prejudice against and hatred of Jews so widely felt among the Union forces.


Such bigotry is described in detail by Robert Rosen in his authoritative work The Jewish Confederates; by Bertram Korn in his classic American Jewry and the Civil War; and by other historians of the era. They recount how Jews in Union-occupied areas, such as New Orleans and Memphis, were singled out by Union forces for vicious abuse and vilification.


In New Orleans, the ruling general, Benjamin “Beast” Butler, harshly vilifiedJews and was quoted by a Jewish newspaper as saying he could “suck the blood of every Jew, and will detain every Jew as long as he can.” An Associated Press reporter from the North wrote that “The Jews in New Orleans and all the South ought to be exterminated. They run the blockade, and are always to be found at the bottom of every new villainy.”


Of Memphis, whose Mississippi River port was a center of illegal cotton trading, the Chicago Tribune reported in July 1862: “The Israelites have come down upon the city like locusts. Every boat brings in a load of the hooked-nose fraternity.”


Rosen writes at length about the blatant and widespread anti-Semitism throughout the North, with even The New York Times castigating the anti-war Democratic Party for having a chairman who was “the agent of foreign Jew bankers.”


New Englanders were especially hateful, and one leading abolitionist minister, Theodore Parker, called Jews “lecherous,” and said that their intellects were “sadly pinched in those narrow foreheads” and that they “did sometimes kill a Christian baby at the Passover.”


Meanwhile, in the South, Jews were playing a prominent role in the Confederate government and armed forces, and “were used to being treated as equals,” as Rosen puts it, an acceptance they had enjoyed for a century and a half.


Dale and Theodore Rosengarten, in A Portion of the People: Three Hundred Years of Southern Jewish Life, observe that in 1800 Charleston had more Jews than any city in North America, and many were respected citizens, office holders, and successful entrepreneurs. Some referred to the city as “our Jerusalem” and Myer Moses, my maternal family patriarch, in 1806 called his hometown “this land of milk and honey.” And so it seemed.


Some 3,000 or more Jews fought for the South, practically every male of military age. Many carried with them to the front the famous soldiers’ prayer written by Richmond rabbi Max Michelbacher, who after secession had issued a widely-published benediction comparing Southerners to “the Children of Israel crossing the Red Sea.”


Many Jewish Confederates distinguished themselves by showing, along with their Christian comrades, amazing courage, dedication and valor, and enduring incredible hardships against overwhelming and often hopeless odds.


The Confederacy’s secretary of war (he would later become secretary of state) was Judah P. Benjamin, and the top Confederate commander, General Robert E. Lee, was renowned for making every effort to accommodate his Jewish soldiers on their holidays.


Some find it peculiar that a people once held in slavery by the Egyptians, and who celebrate their liberation every year at Passover, would fight for a nation dedicated to maintaining that institution. But while slavery is usually emphasized, falsely, as the cause of the war, Confederate soldiers felt they were fighting for their homeland and their families, against an invading army that was trying, with great success, to kill them and their comrades, burn their homes, and destroy their cities.


Anyone with family who fought to defend the South, as over two dozen members of my extended family did, cannot help but appreciate the dire circumstances our ancestors encountered.


The Moses Family


Near the end of the War Between the States, as I grew up hearing it called, my great grandfather, Andrew Jackson Moses, participated in a dangerous mission as hopeless as it was valiant. The date was April 9, 1865, the same day Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox. Having run away from school at 16 to become a Confederate scout, Jack rode out as part of a hastily formed local militia to defend his hometown of Sumter, South Carolina.


Approaching rapidly were the 2,700 men of Potter’s Raiders, a unit attached to Sherman’s army that had just burned Columbia and most everything else in its path, and Sumter expected similar treatment.


Along wih a few other teenagers, old men, invalids, and wounded from the local hospital, Sumter’s 158 ragtag defenders were able to hold off Potter’s battle-seasoned veterans for over an hour and a half at the cost of a dozen lives.


Jack got away with a price on his head, and Sumter was not burned after all. But some buildings were, and there are documented instances of murder, rape, and arson by the Yankees, including the torching of our family’s 196 bales of cotton.


Meanwhile, on that same day, Jack’s eldest brother, Lt. Joshua Lazarus Moses, who’d been wounded in the war’s first real battle, First Manassas (Bull Run), was defending Mobile in the last infantry battle of the war. With his forces outnumbered 12 to one, Josh was commanding an artillery battalion that, before being overrun, fired the last shots in defense of Mobile.


Refusing to lay down his arms, he was killed in a battle at Fort Blakely a few hours after Lee, unbeknownst to them, had surrendered. In that battle, one of Josh’s brothers, Perry, was wounded, and another brother, Horace, was captured while laying land mines.


The fifth brother, Isaac Harby Moses, having served with distinction in combat in the legendary Wade Hampton’s cavalry, rode home from North Carolina after the Battle of Bentonville, the last major battle of the war, where he had commanded his company after all the officers had been killed or wounded. His mother proudly observed in her memoirs that he never surrendered to the enemy forces.


He was among those who fired the first shots of the war when his company of Citadel cadets opened up on the Union ship, Star of the West, which was attempting to resupply the besieged Fort Sumter in January 1861, three months before the war officially began.


Last Order Of The Lost Cause


The Moses brothers’ uncle, Major Raphael J. Moses, from Columbus, Georgia, is credited with being the father of Georgia’s peach industry. He was General James Longstreet’s chief commissary officer and was responsible for supplying and feeding up to 50,000 men (including porters and other non-combatants).


Their commander, Robert E. Lee, had forbidden Moses from entering private homes in search of supplies during raids into Union territory, even when food and other provisions were in painfully short supply. And he always paid for what he took from farms and businesses, albeit in Confederate tender – often enduring, in good humor, harsh verbal abuse from the local women.


Interestingly, Moses ended up attending the last meeting and carrying out the last order of the Confederate government, which was to deliver the remnant of the Confederate treasury ($40,000 in gold and silver bullion) to help feed, supply and provide medical help to the defeated Confederate soldiers in hospitals and straggling home after the war – weary, hungry, often sick or wounded, shoeless, and in tattered uniforms. With the help of a small group of determined armed guards, he successfully carried out the order from President Jefferson Davis, despite repeated attempts by mobs to forcibly take the bullion.


Major Moses’s three sons also served the Confederacy. One of them, Albert Moses Luria, was killed in 1862 at age 19 after courageously throwing a live Union artillery shell out of his fortification before it exploded, thereby saving the lives of many of his compatriots. He was the first Jewish Confederate killed in the war; his cousin Josh, killed at Mobile, the last.


Moses had always been intensely proud of his Jewish heritage, having named one son Luria after an ancestor who was court physician to Spain’s Queen Isabella. Another son he named Nunez, after Dr. Samuel Nunez, the court physician in Lisbon who fled religious persecution in Portugal and arrived from England in July 1733 with some 41 other Jews on a tiny, storm-tossed ship. As one of the first Jews in Georgia, Nunez is credited with having saved the colony in Savannah from perishing from malaria or some ther kind of tropical fever.


After the war, Raphael Moses was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives and named chairman of the Judiciary Committee. One of his best known writings, reproduced countless times in books and articles, is a lengthy, open letter he wrote in 1878 to a political opponent who’d attacked him for being “a Jew.”


This was a rare deviation from the general acceptance the South showed toward its Jews, and Moses hit back hard.


“Had your overburdened heart sought relief in some exhibition of unmeasured gratitude, had you a wealth of gifts and selected from your abundance your richest offering to lay at my feet,” he wrote, “you could not have honored me more highly, nor distinguished me more gratefully than by proclaiming me a Jew.”


One cannot help but respect the dignity and gentlemanly policies of Lee and Moses, and the courage of the greatly outnumbered, out-supplied but rarely outfought Confederate soldiers.


In stark contrast and in violation of the then-prevailing rules of warfare, the troops of Union generals Grant, Sherman, and Sheridan burned and looted homes, farms, courthouses, libraries, businesses, and entire cities full of defenseless civilians (including my hometown of Atlanta) as part of official Union policy not simply to defeat but to utterly destroy the South.


And before, during, and after the war, this Union army (led by many of the same generals, including Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, and Custer) used the same and even worse tactics to massacre Native Americans in what we euphemistically call the Indian Wars. It would be more accurate to call it mass murder – a virtual genocide – of Native Americans, including helpless old men, women, and children in their villages.


Why We Revere Our Ancestors


The valor of the Jewish Confederates and the other Southern soldiers and the blatant anti-Semitism so prevalent in the North form a nearly forgotten chapter of American history. It is, seemingly, an embarrassment to many Jewish historians – and hardly politically correct – in this day of constantly reiterated demonization of the Confederacy and worshipful reverence for Lincoln and his brutal generals.


But the anniversary of Grant’s little-remembered Nazi-like decree and his other atrocities should serve to remind us what the Southern soldiers and civilians were up against. Perhaps it will help people understand why native Southerners, including many Jewish families, revere their ancestors’ courage and, despite the controversy it causes in certain “enlightened” circles, still take much pride in this heritage.



Lewis Regenstein, a native Atlantan, is a writer and author. He can be reached at  Regenstein@mindspring.com.

Jewish Soldiers Observe Pesach During The Civil War

Friday, April 1st, 2005

Editor’s Note: With this article The Jewish Press inaugurates a monthly series dealing with the early history of American Jewry. Particular emphasis will be placed on those who struggled to maintain their religious observance in an environment that was drastically different from the one prevalent then in other parts of the world.

In the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries Jews in America did not face the level of discrimination encountered by their brothers and sisters living in other lands. To the contrary, they faced what might be considered an even greater challenge to the maintenance of religious observance – an open society in which people were free to do pretty much as they liked. Many were not able to resist the temptations of such freedom, and the result was, unfortunately, the abandonment of observance. This often led to intermarriage and assimilation.

There were, however, those who managed to live Orthodox lives and pass Yiddishkeit on to their children. They did this in the face of what many considered insurmountable odds and without the support systems that the observant world takes for granted today. The stories of the lives of these Jewish heroes and heroines are often inspiring and uplifting. Furthermore, those who remained true to their Jewish heritage built the foundations on which Orthodoxy rests today.

This series will appear the first week of each month and will progress chronologically, beginning with historical events that took place in the 16th century. But with Pesach fast approaching, it seemed only appropriate to start the series with the following article.

Jewish Soldiers Observe Pesach During The Civil War

There may be those who think that almost all the Jews who came to America during the 19th century left their observance of Yiddishkeit in the Old World. While it certainly is true that many Jews became lax in their observance of the precepts of the Torah, there were those who clung steadfastly to the religion of their ancestors. This commitment to Torah and mitzvos was maintained by some Jewish soldiers who fought during the Civil War, both on the Union and Confederate sides, despite the difficulties and hardships they faced. The morning of April 20, 1861, nineteen-year-old Albert Luria received a message that his (Confederate) company was to leave for Norfolk, Virginia, in two hours.

Albert joined his company, the Columbus City Light Guards, Company A, 2d Georgia Infantry Battalion, and marched to the depot, where amidst the crowd were members of his family. Aunts, uncles, and cousins had walked to Columbus to send young Albert off to fight, though they were prosperous planters accustomed to riding in carriages. It was Saturday, and, after all, the family members were Orthodox Jews.

”I did not anticipate seeing them,” the young soldier wrote in his journal, ”for as it was Saturday I knew they could not ride and hardly expected they would pay me the compliment of walking in.”

Albert’s parents, Eliza and Raphael J. Moses, were born and raised in observant Jewish homes in Charleston and descended from a long line of Jewish Southerners. Raphael Moses was so proud of his Sephardic ancestry that, not wanting his old family names to die out, he named one son, Albert, “Luria” and another son, Israel, “Nunez” to carry on those old Sephardic names.

A successful lawyer and planter in Columbus, Moses also volunteered for the Confederate army and achieved the rank of major as Gen. James Longstreet’s chief of commissary. In addition to Albert Luria, two other sons of Raphael J. Moses served in the Confederate armed forces.

Albert Luria was severely wounded on May 31, 1862, and died shortly thereafter.

For American Jewry during the Civil War, the Passover story was especially powerful. Northern soldiers saw clear parallels between the Union freeing the South’s slaves and Moses leading the ancient Hebrews out of Egypt. However, creating a seder in a war zone requires flexibility and creativity. In 1862, the Jewish Messenger published an account by J. A. Joel (of the 23rd Ohio Volunteer Regiment) of a seder celebrated by Union soldiers in Fayette, West Virginia. Joel and twenty other Jewish soldiers were granted leave to observe Passover.

Joel’s account of the seder was included in a letter to his sister:

”While lying there (near the village of Fayette), our camp duties were not of an arduous character, and being apprised of the approaching Feast of Passover, twenty of my comrades and co-religionists belonging to the Regiment, united in a request to our commanding officer for relief from duty, in order that we might keep the holydays, which he readily acceded to. The first point was gained, and, as the Paymaster had lately visited the Regiment, he had left us plenty of greenbacks. Our next business was to find some suitable person to proceed to Cincinnati, Ohio, to buy us [matzos]. Our sutler (civilian provisioner to the army post) being a co-religionist and going home to that city, readily undertook to send them.

”We were anxiously awaiting to receive our matzos and about the middle of the morning of [the eve of Passover] a supply train arrived in camp, and to our delight seven barrels of matzos. On opening them, we were surprised and pleased to find that our thoughtful sutler had enclosed two Hagedahs and prayer-books. We were now able to keep the seder nights, if we could only obtain the other requisites for that occasion. We held a consultation and decided to send parties to forage in the country while a party stayed to build a log hut for the services. About the middle of the afternoon the foragers arrived, having been quite successful. We obtained two kegs of cider, a lamb, several chickens and some eggs. Horseradish or parsley we could not obtain, but in lieu we found a weed, whose bitterness, I apprehend, exceeded anything our forefathers ‘enjoyed’…. The necessaries for the choroutzes we could not obtain, so we got a brick which, rather hard to digest, reminded us, by looking at it, for what purpose it was intended.

”At dark we had all prepared, and were ready to commence the service. There being no [cantor] present, I was selected to read the services, which I commenced by asking the blessing of the Almighty on the food before us, and to preserve our lives from danger. The ceremonies were passing off very nicely, until we arrived at the part where the bitter herb was to be taken. We all had a large portion of the herb ready to eat at the moment I said the blessing; each [ate] his portion, when horrors! what a scene ensued in our little congregation, it is impossible for my pen to describe. The herb was very bitter and very fiery like Cayenne pepper, and excited our thirst to such a degree, that we forgot the law authorizing us to drink only four cups, and the consequence was we drank up all the cider.

”There, in the wild woods of West Virginia, away from home and friends, we consecrated and offered up to the ever-loving God of Israel our prayers and sacrifice. I doubt whether the spirits of our forefathers, had they been looking down on us, standing there with our arms by our side ready for an attack, faithful to our God and our cause, would have imagined themselves amongst mortals, enacting this commemoration of the scene that transpired in Egypt.”

There were Jewish soldiers in the Confederate Army who were just as committed to Judaism as those who fought for the North. The following is a letter written by a Jewish Confederate soldier, Isaac J. Levy of the 46th Virginia Infantry, from his camp in Adams Run South Carolina, in which he detailed to his sister how he and his brother Ezekiel (”Zeke”) celebrated Passover in the army:


Adams Run
April 24th, 1864

Dear Leonora,

No doubt you were much surprised on receiving a letter from me addressed to our dear parents dated on the 21st which was the first day of [Pesach]. We were all under the impression in camp that the first day of the festival was the 22nd and if my memory serves me right I think that Ma wrote me that Pesach was on the 22nd inst. Zeke …. was somewhat astonished on arriving in Charleston on Wednesday afternoon, to learn that that was the first [seder] night. He purchased [matzos] sufficient to last us for the week. The cost is somewhat less than in Richmond, being but two dollars per pound. [Editor's Note: For point of reference, matzah in New York City was then 6 cents a pound.] We are observing the festival in a truly Orthodox style. On the first day we had a fine vegetable soup. It was made of a bunch of vegetables which Zeke brought from Charleston containing new onions, parsley, carrots turnips and a young cauliflower also a pound and a half of fresh [kosher] beef, the latter article sells for four dollars per pound in Charleston. Zeke E. did not bring us any meat from home. He brought some of his own, smoked meat, which he is sharing with us, he says that he supposes that Pa forgot to deliver it to him.

Love to all
Your affectionate Brother
Isaac J. Levy



Isaac J. Levy was killed at Petersburg, August 21, 1864. He was 21 years old.

Such were the efforts expended by Jewish soldiers during the Civil War to maintain their religious observances in spite of overwhelming difficulties. These inspiring recollections will, no doubt, enhance our own Pesach experience.


Dr. Yitzchok Levine, a frequent contributor to The Jewish Press, is a professor in the department of Mathematical Sciences at Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New Jersey. He can be contacted at llevine@stevens.edu 

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/glimpses-ajh/jewish-soldiers-observe-pesach-during-the-civil-war/2005/04/01/

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