The Jewish Confederates
By Robert N. Rosen
University of South Carolina Press: 2000
In his latest study of the Civil War, Robert N. Rosen introduces readers to the community of Southern Jews of the 1860s, heretofore lost to historians and the general public. With the exception of Judah P. Benjamin, Jewish Confederates are largely unknown even to specialists of American Jewish history and Civil War history. Rosen reveals the remarkable breadth of Southern Jewry’s participation in the war and strength of Jewish commitment to the Confederate cause. Intrigued by the apparent irony of their story, Rosen weaves a surprisingly complex chronicle that dispels common misconceptions about the Confederacy, its leadership and soldiers, and its Jewish population.
Rosen finds that although many members of the established, prominent Jewish communities of Charleston, Richmond, and Savannah volunteered for battle, the majority of Jewish Confederates were recent immigrants. He describes the communities they established throughout the South and explains their reasons for supporting the cause of Southern independence.
This chronicle relates the experiences of officers, enlisted men, businessmen, politicians, nurses, rabbis, and doctors. He recounts the careers of such important Jewish Confederates as Judah P. Benjamin, a member of Jefferson Davis’s cabinet; Col. Abraham C. Myers, quartermaster general of the Confederacy; Maj. Adolph Proskauer of the 125th Alabama; Maj. Alexander Hart of the Louisiana 5th; and Phoebe Levy Pember, the matron of Richmond’s Chimborazo Hospital. He narrates the adventures and careers of Jewish officers and profiles the many "Jewish Johnny Rebs" who fought in infantry, cavalry, and artillery units in every major campaign.
Rosen N. Rosen's JEWISH CONFEDERATES shows that the breadth and strength of Southern Jews’ commitment to the Confederate cause is undeniable. Focusing on the Jewish communities throughout the South, Rosen explains each city's reasons for supporting the cause of Southern independence. Those motivations were as complex as their positions and roles in Southern society.
Profiling the prominent and humble, who volunteered for service, Rosen shows a Confederate army and government remarkably free of anti-Semitism and a Southern leadership, especially Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee, without prejudice against the Jews (as opposed to Union generals Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman who issued anti-Semitic edicts).
The text is supplemented with 160 photographs and illustrations-- many previously unpublished and recently discovered images contributed by the descendants of Jewish Confederates.
About the Author
ROBERT N. ROSEN was born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina. Three of his grandparents were emigrants from the "Pale of Settlement"-Russia, Poland, and Belorus. The other grandparent was born in this country just after her parents arrived from Austria in the 1890s. Rosen attended public schools in Charleston, where his high school history teacher was the Charleston historian Solomon Breibart. He studied at the University of Virginia and at Harvard University, where he received an M.A. in history, as well as at the University of South Carolina Law School. The author of A Short History of Charleston and Confederate Charleston: An Illustrated History of the Place and the People During the Civil War, he has practiced law for twenty-six years in Charleston and is listed in The Best Lawyers in America. Rosen has served on the boards of the South Carolina Historical Society and Historic Charleston Foundation, and he chairs the Arts and History Commission of the City of Charleston.