Jewish Confederates

The American Civil War in the United States which lasted for four years, from 1861 to 1865, was a war fought by eleven Southern slave states against twenty-five states composed of twenty Northern free states and five slave states that became known as the border states. The Southern states that wanted independence from the United States formed "the Confederacy" or the Confederate States of America. On the other hand, the twenty-five states that supported the federal government formed the “Union”. After the civil war, slavery was outlawed everywhere in the nation and the Reconstruction Era began. Individuals of different ethnicities participated in the Civil War, some of which were of Jewish descent. Some accounts say that about ten thousand Jewish Confederates fought the war, while some conservative estimates put the number to about three thousand Jewish Confederates. There were many Jewish Confederates that played leadership roles during the war and many Jewish Confederates who served as financiers during the war and the restoration.

Approximately three to ten thousand Jewish Confederates fought in the Civil war. Some of these Jewish Confederates played leadership roles during the war, occupying posts as generals and colonels. One of these notable officers is Abraham Myers who is a West Point graduate and a former classmate of General Lee. Myers served as quartermaster general. Before the war, he fought the Indians in Florida. The city of Fort Myers was named after him. Maj. Adolph Proskauer of Alaska was another Jewish officer during the Civil War. His subordinate officers called him “the personification of intrepid gallantry and imperturbable courage.” Three Jewish Confederates reached the rank of colonel In Louisiana. These are S.M. Hymans, Edwin Kunsheedt and Ira Moses. Other popular Jews who fought for the confederacy are Moses Jacob Ezekiel from Richmond and Simon Baruch from South Carolina, who served as physician in the 3rd South Carolina Battalion and who later became the surgeon general of the Confederacy.

One notable Jewish Confederate was Judah P. Benjamin. Judah Benjamin was an American politician and lawyer and served as Secretary of State and acting Secretary of War of the Confederacy. He was born a British subject in the West Indies, and later became a citizen of the Confederate States of America.

There are also notable Jewish Confederates that played key roles in providing government financing for the Civil war. One of these Jewish Confederates is Emile Erlanger who was married to Matilde Slidell, the daughter of Louisiana merchant, lawyer and politician John Slidell. Emile Erlanger & Co. which was established in 1864 by Frederic Emile d'Erlanger, was active during and after the period of Reconstruction following the American Civil War.