From a Foreign Field: Service by Foreign-Born Residents in North Carolina's Confederate Ranks
Service Record of Manuel Simmons, 18th N.C. Infantry
May 13, 1863 fell on a Wednesday. That afternoon a Confederate soldier named Manuel Simmons, a private in Company E, 18th North Carolina Infantry, died of his wounds in Confederate General Hospital No. 12 in Richmond, Virginia. Simmons had been wounded ten days prior at the Battle of Chancellorsville, struck by a "grapeshot passing through [the] upper third of the thigh fracturing the bone" as his regiment was ordered to charge a Union position that included twenty-eight artillery pieces. His death went little noticed. Unmarried, he had no widow or other family to come forward and claim his last effects or pay, and no obituary appeared in any newspaper. His death, and that of many others at Chancellorsville, was largely overshadowed by the demise on May 10 of Lieutenant General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, who had been mortally wounded on the night of May 2 in a friendly fire incident. Ironically, the bullets that ultimately killed Jackson had been fired by Simmons's own regiment. However, Simmons's story is an important, if little known aspect of North Carolina's participation in the Confederacy, for Manual Simmons hailed from a foreign land. Born in Lisbon, Portugal in 1833, he had come to America in search of a new life, arriving in Wilmington in 1856. Two years later he applied for, and received, his naturalization as a United States citizen and, having renounced his allegiance to King Pedro V of Portugal, settled as a laborer on a farm along the lower Black River in New Hanover County. At the outbreak of the war, Simmons threw his lot in with the Confederacy, for which he would fight, and ultimately die. His story, and that of hundreds of other foreign-born North Carolina Confederates, has gone largely ignored in accounts of the conflict to date.
One of the reasons for their story's absence is likely the fact that North Carolina had the smallest foreign born population of any Southern state at the beginning of the Civil War and therefore fielded comparatively few such soldiers. According to the 1860 census, only 3,298 North Carolina residents, less than one-half of one percent of the free population, were born outside of the United States. In the Southern states that seceded as a whole only four percent of the free population was foreign born. The state closest to North Carolina in foreign population as a percentage was Arkansas with one percent, and in actual number, Florida, with exactly eleven more foreign-born residents than North Carolina. In every Southern state, the largest groups of foreigners were located in metropolitan areas, and most often in port cities. The city of Richmond by itself had over 1,000 more foreign born residents than the entire Tar Heel state, as did Charleston and Savannah. The state with the most foreign-born residents, Louisiana, also boasted, not surprisingly, the city with the largest foreign-born population, New Orleans. Over 60,000 of the state's nearly 81,000 foreign born residents lived in the city. While other states, North Carolina included, could boast of sending companies of foreign volunteers to war, Louisiana sent entire regiments. For example, the 10th Louisiana Infantry regiment marched to war with men from over 20 countries in its ranks, and the state attempted to form an entire "European Brigade" at the war's beginning.
The Confederate government, from its very inception, had to determine how to deal with the foreign-born residents of their new country. The Constitution of the Confederate States of America, which was ratified by a convention in North Carolina on June 6, 1861, empowered Confederate authorities to "establish uniform laws of naturalization." Nevertheless, the Congress of the Confederate States never actually enacted legislation relating to naturalization. Instead, naturalization procedures remained the same as they had under the flag of the United States. The basic premises, based on Federal laws passed in 1802 and 1828, called for an alien to declare his intention to become a citizen three years prior to admission as a citizen before a state, territorial, or federal court, and also renounce any allegiance to a foreign power or monarch. Residence in the United States of five years was required, one year of which had to be in the state in which they lived. Attempts were made to repeal the United States laws. However such bills either died in committee or were vetoed by Jefferson Davis based upon the argument that they would do an injustice to aliens who had already been naturalized.
Enlisting foreigners in Confederate service was allowed in 1861 without much thought. The Confederate conscription acts passed in April and September 1862 eventually calling for the drafting of all white, male residents of the states aged eighteen to forty-five, forced Confederate authorities to define "resident" in relation to foreign-born aliens. As early as May 1862, after the passage of the first act, Confederate Attorney General Watts stated that the Congress had to have intended only for "domiciled foreigners" to be drafted; that is, those who had acquired a habitation and had no intention of leaving for their mother country. As the war progressed, the need for manpower continually required the expansion of who could or could not be drafted. Some authorities left the definition "domiciled" at simply marrying a non alien, or purchasing property. North Carolina passed an 1863 militia law requiring the enrolling into the militia of all white residents between eighteen and fifty including "foreigners not naturalized" who had lived in the state for thirty days, but Governor Vance fell short of ordering any potential expulsion of those unwilling to serve. Although the February 1864 Confederate Conscription Act, which required the enlistment of all able bodied white males aged seventeen to fifty, did nothing further to clear up confusion over the enlistment of aliens, various state governors had grown frustrated with the fact they did not have access to this supply of able-bodied men. Governor Joseph E. Brown of Georgia authorized the eligibility for conscription of all foreign-born residents of his state and ordered the banishment of all aliens who refused military service.
The British Isles
The largest portion of foreign-born residents of North Carolina came from the British Isles, and thus, not surprisingly, the largest number of foreign-born Confederate enlistees in the state's units hailed from England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. Textile workers displaced and put out of work by the Industrial Revolution and its increasing reliance on machinery over man, added to severe agricultural blights such as the Irish "Potato Famine," resulted in thousands of British immigrants leaving their homes for America. Others simply came for business, whether to settle in America, or to act only temporarily as agents for foreign firms.
English-born enlistees in North Carolina units were generally either sailors who resided in coastal counties or skilled workers living in the interior. Thirty-five year-old Englishman John Bolt, a resident of Beaufort County, enlisted in Company I, 3rd North Carolina State Troops on May 10, 1861. The following year he briefly transferred to the Confederate Navy before then returning to the army in Company C, 61st North Carolina Infantry. The following year he transferred back to the Navy, with which he served until the war's close. James Thomas, an Englishman working in a mine in Rowan County, enlisted in Company C, 49th North Carolina Infantry in 1862. A remarkable shot, he served as something of a sniper for his unit until "shot in the head and instantly killed" while sharpshooting in the trenches at Petersburg in June 1864. Edward V. Latter, a Londoner, enlisted in Company C, 18th North Carolina Infantry in Columbus County in April 1861, giving his occupation as "poet." The wordsmith was wounded once during the war, and captured twice. He survived nearly a year at Elmira Prison in New York, and was released in May 1865.
Col. Collett Leventhorpe, 11th N.C. Infantry
Several English-born officers of the British Army served for North Carolina. The best known of these was Collett Leventhorpe, formerly a captain in the 18th Regiment of Foot. Born in Devon, Leventhorpe served ten years in the British military, seeing service in Ireland, Canada, and the West Indies, before selling his captaincy and taking a job in South Carolina for an English business firm. While on holiday in Asheville in 1843, he met his future wife, a native of Rutherford County. Settling in Rutherford County, Leventhorpe volunteered for the Confederacy at war's start and achieved an appointment as colonel of the 34th North Carolina Infantry in October 1861. Roughly six months later he chose to transfer to the 11th North Carolina Infantry as that regiment's colonel. Wounded and captured at Gettysburg, Leventhorpe was imprisoned at Point Lookout, Maryland until March 1864. He resigned his commission as colonel in April 1864, by reason of his wounds, but soon was appointed a brigadier-general of the North Carolina home guard. Leventhorpe surrendered his command at Greensboro in May 1865.
Scottish enlistees included a number of farmers who had settled along the Cape Fear River, a region long associated with Scottish settlement, but also skilled workers living in the Piedmont and mountains. Third Lieutenant Alexander B. McDougald, a Scottish resident of Moore County, was killed in July 1864 at Petersburg while serving in Company E, 56th North Carolina Infantry. Scottish-born James Inglis, a carpenter in Caldwell County at his enlistment in Company H, 58th North Carolina, either had prior military experience, or was a very capable soldier. He rose through the ranks to become regimental sergeant major in 1863, a position he held until he was killed at Rocky Face Ridge, Georgia, in February 1864. Scots also found their way into the Navy. David Hean, formerly of Dundee, enlisted in Wilmington in the Confederate Navy in 1861, and died there in the summer of 1863.
A number of Confederate companies from North Carolina carried nicknames referencing Scottish hertiage. Company F, 18th North Carolina, a unit raised in June 1861 in Richmond County, was known as the "Scotch Boys." The "Moore County Scotch Riflemen" marched off as Company C, 35th North Carolina in September of 1861 commanded by Scottish-born captain John McDonald Kelly, and Company D, 51st North Carolina went to war in 1862 as the "Scotch Tigers." The company nicknames were more a reflection of the shared heritage of the men in the ranks however, rather than their birthplace. Very few of the men in the three companies can be documented as having actually been born in Scotland, despite such names being present as Campbell, Cameron, McDugald, and McKenzie. Most of them instead were likely descended from Scots who migrated to North Carolina in the mid and later eighteenth century.
Irish and Welsh soldiers typically included sailors as well, but also a large number of miners and unskilled laborers. Charles Smith, formerly of County Claire, Ireland, enlisted in Columbus County in Company C, 20th North Carolina Infantry. A recent immigrant, he likely had fled the potato famine, as County Claire was one of the hardest hit areas. Two of the first North Carolinians to die in battle were Privates Barney Blaney and Barney Brennan, two Irish laborers at a Mecklenburg County mine, who died of wounds they received at First Manassas in July 1861 while serving in Company A, 6th North Carolina State Troops. Another Irishman serving in Blaney and Brennan's company, Private Thomas Manning, a 40-year-old resident of Alamance County, died the following February of "initiative fever." William P. Morris, a Welshman, was a miner prior to enlisting in Pasquotank County in Company A, 8th North Carolina State Troops. He later joined the Confederate Navy and saw service aboard the C.S.S. Virginia and C.S.S. Fredericksburg before being captured at the end of the war while serving in the Naval Battalion, a unit comprised of sailors from the Naval Yards at Richmond who had no ship.
Most of these men were scattered amongst the various regiments, with each unit having a small handful of Britons in their ranks. However a few companies seem to have been heavily recruited from English, Irish, and Welsh populations. Company D, 7th North Carolina Infantry was raised in Mecklenburg County, but established recruiting stations in Charleston and Savannah. The stations must have actively targeted foreigners. Thirty-seven of the company's men were immigrants, including 23 Irish, 10 English, 3 Germans, and a Scot. Their ranks included sailors, dockworkers, machinists, gas fitters, plasterers, bookkeepers, and a deserter from the United States Army.
Irishmen comprised large portions of two other units: Company C, 1st North Carolina Artillery, also known as the "Charlotte Artillery," and 2nd Company H, 2nd North Carolina Artillery, known alternatively as "Dudley's Battery" and "Barnes's Battery." The Charlotte Artillery, a unit formed in May 1861, had amongst its ranks twenty-two Irishmen, all of them, with one exception, laborers at a mine in Anson County. The sole exception was Private John Ormsby, a bootmaker living in Charlotte. The company also boasted two Englishmen, both farmers in Mecklenburg County, as well as a Frenchman, Francis Veno, and a Welshman, John Warren, who also worked as miners in Anson. Whereas most North Carolina artillery units served along the state's coast, the Charlotte Artillery saw active service with the Army of Northern Virginia, and was present at some of the war's heaviest fighting.
Dudley's Battery had at the very least thirty-six Irish born men in its ranks. The unit mustered into service in April with recruits from New Hanover and Brunswick Counties. In June 1863, the battery was stationed at both Fort Johnston and Fort St. Phillip when a mutiny occurred in the ranks. Virtually nothing is known about what caused the incident, or what actually took place, but the names of the conspirators – almost all of whom can be documented as Irish – suggest that, perhaps, it was a response to something stated or put in place that was seen as anti-Irish. Several mutineers were wounded and killed as the coup was quickly put down. Court-martial records for the conspirators have yet to be found, and no accounts of the events have been located in extant area newspapers. Twenty of the mutineers were transferred to other units, but four, including First Sergeant Patrick Slattery, most likely the ringleader of the mutiny, have no further records. The four, all Irishmen, do not appear in any postwar records, and it seems likely that they were executed.
The German Confederation
German enlistment in North Carolina's ranks originated, for the most part, in major towns. Wilmington had a small, but viable German population in 1861, mostly skilled workers and merchants. One of the city's most prominent prewar militia companies, the German Light Infantry, enlisted for Confederate service on April 15, 1861, two days after the firing on Fort Sumter, as the "German Volunteers" in Company A, 18th North Carolina Infantry. The unit was accepted into Confederate service on June 15. Of the 123 men who enlisted in the unit in 1861, 83 were foreign-born. The vast majority of the company indeed came from Germany, which in the mid-nineteenth century was not an independent country, but instead a loose confederation of thirty-nine somewhat autonomous states, the inheritors of the former Holy Roman Empire. Most of the men had left Germany with their parents during the German revolutions of 1848. As a series of revolutionary movements spread across Europe, mostly focused on workers' rights, freedom of the press, and political reform, Germany witnessed much upheaval. Revolutionaries hoped for a reform of the Confederation, and the establishment of a unified German state with a parliament that addressed the people at large, instead of the existing governmental systems that supported the various state monarchies. The movement failed in Germany, and as a result, many émigrés left their homes in search of protection and political freedom.
The immigrant soldiers of Company A, 18th North Carolina Infantry came from twelve different German states, as well as two from Luxembourg, a Dane, and a Frenchman. Their ranks included merchants, clerks, bakers, restaurant owners, waiters, and a candymaker. Captain Christian Cornehlsen, a native of Hannover, was elected company commander. His junior officers included First Lieutenant Hanke Vollers, and Second Lieutenants Gerhard Runge and Engelhardt Schulken. All of them had been merchants in Wilmington, and all were natives of Hannover. They and their men enlisted for one year, after which most, such as 20-year-old Bavarian-born Private Henry Bear, left the Confederate service, never to return. Others remained past their original enlistment period but were, like 27-year-old Prussian sailor Private Henry R. Kyhl, discharged in 1862 for being "foreigner" or "not having domicile." This must have come as something of a slap in the face to men who had served faithfully through fighting of the summer of 1862 outside Richmond. None of the original members stayed with the unit past 1863, but a handful later enlisted in other North Carolina units. A few of the original 83 died in service with the 18th North Carolina, including Private Gerhard Hackeman, formerly of Hannover, who died in a Union field hospital on June 1, 1862, having been wounded and taken prisoner at Hanover Court House, Virginia, and Private Jacob Solomon, a German Jew from Prussia, who died in 1862 of disease.
Private Solomon's service highlights another intriguing facet about this company. Utilizing the records of the Hebrew Cemetery in Wilmington, as well as synagogue membership records, it is possible to document several Jewish members of "The German Volunteers." Perhaps as many as a quarter of the original enlistees, including Privates Simon Fleisher, Benjamin Goldsmith, Max Greenberg, Abraham R. Mayer, and Jacob Solomon, as well as others, have been identified as being of the Jewish faith. Wilmington was the location of the first Jewish synagogue, The Temple of Israel, in North Carolina. The founding members included several Confederate veterans, mostly of Company A, 18th North Carolina.
German enlistees were scattered throughout other North Carolina regiments. A small block of them enlisted in Company B, 53rd North Carolina. These men, most of whom were Jewish, were clerks for a mercantile firm in Charlotte. Private Lewis Leon of the unit had first marched off to war in 1861 in Company C, 1st North Carolina Volunteers, one of eleven Jewish soldiers reportedly in that outfit. According to newspaper accounts the "the Jewish ladies" of Charlotte collected $150 to assist the volunteers. Leon kept a journal of his experiences in the army that was later published as Diary of a Tar Heel Confederate Soldier in 1913. In it he confirms that Confederate authorities authorized furloughs for Jewish soldiers during Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Leon was captured at the Wilderness, and imprisoned at Elmira, New York. Unrepentant, he wrote in his diary that in April 1865 he "cursed" the Oath of Allegiance, and after briefly visiting his parents in New York City, returned home to Charlotte. Several other men of Company B, 53rd North Carolina were second-generation German Jews. One of them, Aaron Katz, rose to the ranks of sergeant-major of the regiment before his capture at Gettysburg. Unlike Leon, Katz took the Oath quite quickly, after having been imprisoned for barely a month, and remained in north for the war's extent.
A number of German enlistees were professional musicians who subsequently became chief musicians and drum majors in several North Carolina regiments. Charles Emil Jacke was a musician on call at a hotel in Carteret County prior to his enlistment. He subsequently became the leader of the 55th North Carolina's brass band, a group that included fellow German Eugene Geauffretean. Charles Hebner ran the regimental band of the 20th North Carolina, while Henry Prempert, a barber formerly living in Goldsboro but hailing from Saxony, became the drum major of the 2nd North Carolina. John Jacobs, also originally from Saxony, was a hotel owner in Nags Head prior to his enlistment as a drummer in Company M, 12th North Carolina Infantry in 1861. When his company transferred to the 32nd North Carolina Infantry, Jacobs was promoted to command of the musicians of that regiment. One of those he oversaw was his own son, George Jacobs, who enlisted in New Market, Virginia, on November 27, 1864 at the age of nine – the youngest soldier enlisted in North Carolina during the war. George was sent home at some point in the spring of 1865, but John stayed with the regiment until he surrendered at Appomattox.
Other western Europeans joined the army as well including men from France, Belgium and Holland. These men likely came to America for many of the same reasons as their German brethren. The Revolutions that had swept across continental Europe in the mid-1840s had struck hard in France. Although their numbers were fewer than the Germans and natives of the British Isles, other western Europeans do appear on unit muster rolls. Frenchman William C. L. Del Auzanne gave his birthplace as Cherbourg and his residence as France when he enlisted as a private in Company A, 17th North Carolina Infantry (1st Organization) in 1861. At the time he was listed as a schoolteacher living in Pasquotank County. Del Auzanne served faithfully, and closed out the war as a prisoner at Point Lookout, Maryland. Private Nicholas Corroto, a native of Paris who had settled in Surry County, died in 1864 while in service with Company D, 53rd North Carolina. Private John W. Sachre, a 33-year-old native of Holland, and Private Francis Thys, a 22-year-old Belgian, both served enlisted in May 1861 in Company E, 1st North Carolina Artillery. Sachre deserted in March 1862, followed by his Belgian colleague two months later. Private Anthony Serlyn, formerly a resident of Amsterdam, enlisted at age 51 in Company C, 11th North Carolina, a Bertie County unit in 1862. He remained in service until being discharged for chronic rheumatism in April 1864.
Several Spaniards and Portuguese, in addition to Manuel Simmons, can be documented as having served as well. Private John W. Perry, a Portuguese sailor, enlisted in Craven County at age 35 on January 20, 1862. He served faithfully for two months, before being reported captured at New Bern, North Carolina on March 14, 1862. Yet Federal records do not confirm that he was taken prisoner. Being that his battery was overrun, it is much more likely that Perry was killed, as he appears in no extant records after March 1862. Private Rigo Landchery, a Spanish-born farmer living in Rowan County, died of disease in 1862 while serving in Company K, 4th North Carolina.
One of the most intriguing western Europeans to serve North Carolina was Frederick Buxtorf, a native of Bern, Switzerland, who resided in Beaufort County as a merchant. Buxtorf wrote Governor John W. Ellis on April 29, 1861 offering his services to the Confederate cause as an officer, having "seven years served in the French-African army, which having entered as a private volunteer I left two years ago as a second lieutenant." He claimed to have gained his lieutenancy at the battle of Turkeman during the Crimean War, and that "the military knowledge, theoretical as well as practical which I have acquired during my time of service together with the true sympathy which I feel for the southern cause have decided me to follow the advice of my friends in offering my services to the country." There is no evidence of Clark's reply, and Buxtorf apparently did not succeed in his efforts to obtain an officer's commission.
At the time he wrote the letter Buxtorf had already enlisted in Company K, 1st North Carolina Artillery. He remained with that unit until transferring to Company C, 3rd North Carolina Artillery in October 1861. Promoted to sergeant, he was detailed subsequently to the Headquarters of the District of the Pamlico in January 1862, where he remained on detail until January 1864, when he was discharged. According to papers filed along with his discharge, he was "called to [return to] Switzerland by a letter from his home desiring him to enter upon his duties as administrator of his father's estate and his guardianship of his younger brothers and sisters." It also noted that although a resident, he never claimed citizenship, and never voted. The discharge was approved with the remark "never gained a domicile." Whether Buxtorf returned to America remains unclear; however, a Frederick Buxtorf was arrested in May 1865 in New York City along with an accomplise named Matilda Swan, charged with attempting to "introduce yellow fever into certain cities in the United States from Bermuda." Much more research is required to determine if this is the same man, as well as discover the final disposition of the case.
Swiss soldiers of fortune were not the only mercenaries to offer their services to North Carolina. Italian Augustus Carlena enlisted as a private in Company A, 14th North Carolina Infantry age 26 in May 1861, giving his occupation as "warrior." Whether Carlena had any prior military experience or not remains uncertain. As he likely would have been too young to have fought in the 1848-49 First War of Italian Independence it seems unlikely. Regardless, Carlena apparently grew tired of serving the Confederacy. At the expiration of his one year enlistment, he approached the Italian consulate to the Confederacy in Richmond, and applied for protection as a foreign alien. He stated under oath that he had only come to American to earn money and return to his native country, and that he never intended to pursue permanent habitation.
Other Italians appear to have simply come to America for more peaceful reasons prior to the war. Lewis Capalini, a private in Company F, 18th North Carolina, a native of Naples, did not survive the war's second year. Wounded and captured at Hanover Junction, he died in a Union field hospital in June. One Italian who did survive the war, and left his mark on North Carolina, was John Garibaldi of Company H, 1st North Carolina Detailed Men Regiment. Born in 1832 in an area of northwestern Italy later claimed by France, he had come to America in the 1850s and settled in the Mecklenburg area as an engineer. In early 1862 he took a position as the night watchman for the Confederate Navy Yard in Charlotte, and later served in the Confederate Purveying Department. Garibaldi was captured at Salisbury in May 1865, and returned to Mecklenburg County where the nineteenth-century town of Garibaldi (now Belmont) was named for him.
A number of Scandinavians also took part in the Confederate war effort alongside their Teutonic brethren. A number of these men were associated with iron production in Lincoln County. Charles (Carl) Jakob Hammerskjold, born in 1833 in Skultuna, Sweden, came to America with his family in 1849. His father, a former captain in the Swedish army, had operated an iron furnace in their home country, and intended to do the same in America. The family lived for a few years in Spartanburg, South Carolina, prior to moving to Lincolnton, where they established the Hammerskjold Furnace. When his father died in 1860, control of the business fell to Charles (Carl) Jakob Hammerskjold. On September 11, 1861, Hammerskjold joined Company E, 34th North Carolina Infantry as a Second Lieutenant. He quickly gained the trust of fellow foreigner Collett Leventhorpe, the commander of the regiment, and rose through the ranks to major and then lieutenant colonel of the unit. Hammerskjold served with distinction through the Seven Days Battles but resigned his commission on July 17, 1862 due to "nearsightedness and weak eyes." In his resignation letter he admitted that he could no longer "tell friend from foe at fifty yards." The following year Hammeskjold, as well as his mother and sister, returned to Sweden, where he lived until his death in Stockholm in 1884.
The 1860 census shows several young Swedes working at the Hammerskjold Furnace. One of them, Eric Erson, enlisted in Company K, 1st North Carolina Volunteers in April 1861, and took part in the fighting at Big Bethel on June 10. He rose to the rank of corporal prior to his discharge in the fall of 1861, and the following April became captain in command of Company H, 52nd North Carolina Infantry. Born in Skultuna in 1838, Erson proved to be a brilliant combat officer, despite having no documented prewar military experience. He eventually became lieutenant colonel of the 52nd North Carolina, survived two wounds, and surrendered his regiment at Appomattox Courthouse on April 9, 1865. Unlike Hammerskjold, he chose to remain in America, and died in Lincoln County in 1871.
A third North Carolina Confederate officer of Swedish origin, Major Franz Hahr, was also connected to the Hammerskjolds, but not by employment. Born in 1825 in Stockholm, he had migrated to America in 1849 to take a faculty appointment as a music and French instructor at Limestone Female School – the forerunner to Limestone College in Gaffney, South Carolina. Aboard the vessel taking him to Charleston was Captain Charles M. Hammerskjold, the father of Charles Jakob Hammerskjold. The son of a Swedish general, and himself a graduate of the Stockholm Military Academy, Hahr was well prepared for military service. He enlisted in Company F, 1st North Carolina Volunteers in April 1861 as a corporal, and was later appointed quartermaster sergeant for the regiment. In July 1862 he received an appointment as a drillmaster and first lieutenant, and was assigned to the camps of instruction in Raleigh. The following year he was transferred to the conscript camp operated by Lieutenant Colonel Peter Mallett and by 1864 was a major in command of conscripts and detailed men. Little more is known about his activities, but he acted as an aide-de-camp and inspector general to the brigade commanded by William Kirkland, and fought at Bentonville in such capacity. He was paroled at Greensboro in May 1865. Postwar, Hahr took a position as a music instructor at Greensboro Female College, where he died in December 1878.
Several other Scandinavians, beyond regimental and battalion commanders, served in North Carolina's ranks. Norwegian John Peterson served as a private in William McDugald's independent company of railroad guards in Wilmington. Rudolph E. Heide, a 28-year-old Danish baker born in Copenhagen and living in Cumberland County enlisted in Company H, 1st North Carolina Volunteers in April 1861. His younger brother, Alexander S. Heide, age 16, also born in Copenhagen, enlisted in June 1862 in Company A, 5th North Carolina Cavalry in Fayetteville. Captured at Gettysburg, he subsequently joined the Union military in February 1864 in order to gain release from prison at Point Lookout, Maryland. Heide returned to North Carolina after the war and settled in Wilmington, where he became a shipping magnate and was later appointed Danish vice consul.
Eastern European volunteers included Russians, Poles, and Hungarians. As with the western Europeans, the Revolutions of 1848 resulted in exiles leaving for America. John Mitschka, a man of Russian origin, enlisted in Company E, 11th North Carolina Infantry in February 1862 at the age of 40. He was a resident of New York City who had been doing business in Charlotte when the war erupted. Mitschka served until his capture at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on July 2, 1863. Despite being in a position to perhaps pursue release based on his nationality, Mitschka remained in prison until May 1865 when he took the Oath of Allegiance. Fifty-five-year-old Joseph Stancowartz, a German most likely of Russian ancestry, enlisted in Company C, 1st Battalion North Carolina Heavy Artillery in 1862. He remained with the unit until August 1864, when his records end. His final disposition remains unknown, but he does not appear on the 1870 census.
Pole Anthony Olzsiewski, a tailor living in Davidson County, North Carolina, enlisted in August 1863 for service in Company B, 35th North Carolina Infantry. Olzsiewksi appears to have arrived in New York City in 1834, and is most likely the same Anthony Olsziewski, Polish tailor, who enlisted in the city in the 3rd U.S. Dragoons for three years in 1836. That man saw service in the Seminole Wars, fighting in several engagements in Florida prior to his discharge. If so, he was enlisting for his second war. He may also be the "A. Olsziewski" who served in the 1st South Carolina Infantry as a musician for a short time in the first six months of the war. At his enlistment into the 35th North Carolina, Olzsiewski already had two sons serving in the army. His eldest, Anthony, Jr., was a private in Company K, 48th North Carolina Infantry, while the second child, Thomas, served as a private in Company H, 57th North Carolina Infantry. All three appear to have survived the war, but the family, with the exception of a daughter, does not seem to have remained in North Carolina after the conflict.
Joseph F. Chippewater, another Polish native, enlisted in Company B, 3rd Battalion North Carolina Artillery in Cumberland County at age 47 in February 1862. He is likely the same man as Joseph Tshipowada, who deserted from Company A, 5th North Carolina Infantry in July 1861. Service with an artillery unit seemed to fit Chippewater, who remained with his unit until his capture at Town Creek in February 1865. Incarcerated at Point Lookout, Maryland, he was released after taking the Oath of Allegiance in June 1865. Another Pole, perhaps of Russian descent, George Tonnoffski, served in Company I, 17th North Carolina Infantry (2nd Organization). He enlisted at age 17 in January 1864 in Wilmington and served as courier for Brigadier General William Kirkland until being captured at Wyse Fork on March 10, 1865. He was then imprisoned at Point Lookout but, according to a postwar reminiscence he wrote titled "My Last Days Experiences as a Confederate Soldier," escaped by paying a soldier who was being released a "dollar and a plug of tobacco" in exchange for his identity.
Hungarian Alexander Medway, a physician living in Wilmington, was commissioned into the Confederate Army as a surgeon in 1861. In November of that year, he was part of the delegation that led Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens on a tour of the C.S. Arms Factory in Wilmington, owned by Froelich and Estvan. For the remainder of the war, Medway oversaw a post hospital established in the Wilmington area for African American slave and free laborers who had been impressed to construct Fort Fisher and the other nearby Confederate fortifications. After the war he moved to Chicago, Illinois, where he was living with his wife in 1870.
William Jones, who despite his Anglicized name, was by birth a Hungarian according to all census and military records, lived in Craven County as a farmer prior to enlisting in Company D, 5th North Carolina Infantry. He remained in the service until he was taken prisoner at Spotsylvania Courthouse, Virginia, on May 12, 1864. Sent to Point Lookout, Jones subsequently volunteered for service in the Union military on May 19, 1864 in one of the several U.S. Volunteer regiments formed from Confederate prisoners that were sent to the western frontier. His service with the Union appears to have been quite brief, as he was almost immediately discharged from the Union Army perhaps due to a wound he had received at Chancellorsville.
North America and the Caribbean
Immigrants from North America, as well as the Caribbean, also took part in the war effort on behalf of North Carolina. Francis Gilegan, a native of Halifax, Nova Scotia, enlisted in Craven County in 1st Company I, 1st North Carolina Artillery, in August 13, 1861. A sailor by trade, Gilegan may have returned to the sea, and to Canada, after deserting his unit in May 1862. Fellow Canadian Private Samuel Davis of Company E, 4th North Carolina State Troops, taught school in Beaufort County. Born in St. Johns, New Brunswick, he enlisted at age forty-five in 1861, and served with his unit until receiving a discharge for disability three years later. Several sailors from the West Indies enlisted in North Carolina port cities. William H. Clark, a native of Bridgeport, Barbados, enlisted in Pasquotank County on May 4, 1861 in Company L, 17th North Carolina Infantry (1st Organization). He remained with the unit until October 4, 1861, when he transferred to the Navy. Henry J. Hughes, a resident of Nassau, Bahamas, enlisted in Craven County at age 19 on June 6, 1861 in Company K, 2nd North Carolina State Troops. He served through the entire war, including being twice taken prisoner.
Two men born in Mexico also have been identified in North Carolina's ranks. George M. Corlett, a Brunswick County resident, enlisted in Company C, 7th North Carolina Infantry on July 29, 1861 as a musician. He was present until April 1863 when he acquired a discharge due to "general debility." He claimed in his enlistment papers to have been born in Mexico City in 1846, and is shown on the 1860 census as a native of Mexico. However the census also shows his birth year as 1848. It seems likely that he might have been the son of a United States Army soldier who had participated in the Mexican-American War, however if so, he had to have been born after the fall of Mexico City in 1847. The American army that fought in Mexico had camp followers, and in some cases senior sergeants in regiments, as well as officers, might have been able to bring a wife with them. Corlett's mother, an Irish-born woman, is the head of the household on the 1860 census, but the family is living near, or at, Fort Johnston. A George M. Corlett, Irish-born, is found in the records of the United States Army as having enlisted in the 3rd U.S. Artillery in 1840. Promoted to first sergeant of his battery, he fought at Mexico City, and then remained in the army during the 1850s. Records demonstrate hat he was stationed at Fort Moultrie and Fort Sumter in the decade before the war. It appears probable that he is the father of the Confederate soldier, and that perhaps in 1858-1860 he was sent to Fort Johnston in North Carolina and took his family with him, however this theory remains to be proven. Nevertheless, it appears that George M. Corlett, Confederate soldier, was Mexican only by birth, and not by culture or heritage. He lived out the remainder of his life as a fisherman in Georgia, and died in the 1910s.
Final Effects Statement of B. T. Ernandez, 2nd N.C. Infantry
The second Mexican-born North Carolina Confederate, B. T. Ernandez, enlisted in Jones County on May 24, 1861 in Company G, 2nd North Carolina State Troops. Although he has not been located on the 1860 census for North Carolina, and little is known about his background, Ernandez must have made an impression on his fellow soldiers, for he enlisted as a sergeant. He was killed in action on July 1, 1862 at Malvern Hill, Virginia, as his unit charged Union artillery positions. Ernandez's widow, Anna, or Anner Ernandez, applied for and received his back pay. The following year she applied again for relief as a destitute widow, giving her address at that time as Wilmington. Nothing more has been found about the couple, and what brought Ernandez and his wife to the United States.
Perhaps three of the most intriguing, if not unique, foreign connections held by North Carolina Confederates are that of Frontis Johnston, Stephen Decatur Bunker and Christopher W. Bunker. Like George Corlett, Frontis Johnston was a foreigner by birth, but not by heritage or culture. Born in Constantinople, Turkey in 1835, Johnston was the son of Thomas Pinckney Johnston, a missionary working at that time with the Armenian Turks. Frontis Johnston came to America in 1853, and graduated two years later from Davidson College as class valedictorian. A Presbyterian minister living in Davidson County at the beginning of the war, he was appointed chaplain of the 48th North Carolina Infantry on October 4, 1862, although he had been serving the regiment since the previous June. He resigned in December 1862, for reasons unrecorded, and left the service in 1863. Johnston remained active as a Presbyterian pastor in Forsyth County for most of his life, and died in Tarboro in 1901.
Stephen Decatur Bunker and Christopher W. Bunker, although born in America, were the sons of the famous Siamese twins Eng and Chang Bunker, who married local women and settled in Surry County, North Carolina, after a life as circus performers. The younger Bunkers enlisted in Company I, 37th Virginia Cavalry Battalion, but were residents of North Carolina at the time of their enlistment. Their company largely consisted of Surry County men who simply went across the state border to enlist in Grayson and Carroll Counties. Eng's son Stephen Decatur received two wounds in the service, and Chang's child, Christopher Wren, was captured and imprisoned for nearly a year at Camp Chase near Columbus, Ohio. Both survived the war and returned home, and hold the distinction of being two of only a handful of Confederate soldiers of Asian descent.
Chang and Eng Bunker, with their sons Christopher W. (left), and Stephen D. (right), circa 1855
These stories are those of only a handful of the perhaps few hundred foreigners who served in North Carolina's Confederate ranks. Men from over twenty nations can be documented as having fought for North Carolina. Their service should not be taken, however, as evidence that North Carolina was a multicultural melting pot, nor should it suggest that vast throngs of foreign-born Confederates marched under the state's banners. As stated at the beginning of this essay, North Carolina's foreign-born population was smaller than that of any other Confederate state, and these men comprised only a fraction of a percent of the thousands of troops North Carolina sent to the front. Nevertheless, their stories are a part of the state's wartime history, and deserve to be told. Much more research, giving final tallies of those who can be identified as foreign-born, will appear in later work within the North Carolina Civil War Atlas.