Alabama Gazette - The people's voice of reason

This Diversity Model will not be Allowed

 

October 1, 2020 | View PDF



Individuals who have recently attended school or worked in the business world are aware of "diversity." During my Russell Corporation career, one company leader was nearly fanatical about it; it often seemed to be more important than making quality products and providing good customer service. Some claim the term itself is classic "Orwellian double-speak" – a word having two opposing meanings. Others reference Kurt Vonnegut's "Harrison Bergeron" short story about a dystopian society that punishes excellence and beauty by enforcing nebulous forms of "equality."

Regardless of any modern definitions, there are real examples where a diverse group of individuals worked for a single goal. Likely the most taboo or non-PC example is the case of those who fought for Southern Independence. The following is an overview of the diversity and complexity of Confederate forces.

The general stereotype is most Confederates were genealogically English Cavaliers, Scots-Irish "Rednecks," German, etc.; however, this omits many contributors. The Confederacy was one of the most diverse forces in history; it was composed of all groups who resided in the South and some from outside the region. Not only were the aforementioned groups a major part of the Confederate States, there were also those with the following lineage/ethnicity/religion: Scottish Highland, Welsh, Irish Catholic, Dutch, French (Huguenot and Catholic), Portuguese, Spanish, American Indian, Swedish, Swiss, Polish, Creole, Cajun, Jewish, Italian, Greek, Black, Chinese, Brazilian, Mexican, Cuban, Hawaiian, plus thousands of Northerners. Surely, some have been left out.

First of all, Jefferson Davis' right-hand man was Judah P. Benjamin, a Sephardic Jew. Estimates of Jewish Confederates run from a low of 2,000 to a high of 10,000. Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews both served in the Confederacy. A few of them were Moses Ezekial, David Levy Yulee, Abraham Myers, and Phoebe Pember (nurse). Robert N. Rosen wrote about this subject in his 2001 book, The Jewish Confederates.

The "Five Civilized Tribes" of the Southeast-Choctaw, Chickasaw, Cherokee, Creek, and Seminole-were official allies through signed treaties. An estimated 12,500 Indians wore the gray or a variation of it. On June 23, 1865, Stand Watie, Cherokee Confederate General, was the last field commander to surrender. This was over two months after General Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House. Some tribes had their own Confederate flags. One tactical criticism of the Confederacy concerns the underuse of Indian Confederates with their expertise in guerilla warfare.

Although "Hispanic" is a U.S. government-invented term, thousands of individuals with Spanish/Portuguese lineage served the Confederacy. Texas State Historical Association records show at least 2500 Mexican Americans (Tejanos) joined the Confederacy and a smaller number joined the Union. Confederate Colonel Santos Benavides commanded the 33rd Texas Cavalry; he led the defeat of Union forces at the Battle of Laredo in 1864. Other examples of "Hispanic" Confederates include Jose Agustin Quintero, a Cuban poet who worked with Jefferson Davis to help get European supplies to the South and Cuban Ambrosio Benavides, who served under P.G. T. Beauregard (Confederate Creole General).

Asian Confederates included Charles Chon, Co. K, 24th Texas Dismounted Cavalry, William Henry Kwan, Co. B, 15th Virginia Battalion, Light Artillery, John Fouenty, from China (a cigar-maker from Savannah, GA), at least eighteen Asian-Confederates named in Louisiana units, and the two sons of P.T. Barnum's Siamese twins: Chang and Eng Bunker.

The subject of Black Confederates always raises criticism, yet records show at least 2807 Blacks received Confederate pensions. The argument is they were not engaged in actual combat; however, the testimony of Frederick Douglas and Dr. Lewis Steiner, Chief Inspector of the United States Sanitary Commission, indicates otherwise. Although generally disputed by the usual suspects, some estimates put as many as 13,000 Blacks in combat related roles and a total of around 65,000 who served the Confederate States. Several Blacks who rode with Nathan Bedford Forrest were said to have carried firearms. Jewish Confederate Moses Ezekial designed a monument (at Arlington Cemetery) depicting a Black Confederate marching with White Confederates to depict historical accuracy (per Edward Smith, Black Professor at American University in Washington, D.C.)

This brief glimpse of those who were actual Confederate soldiers and supporters is the tip of the iceberg. Good luck getting this acknowledged in any school setting–it simply does not fit the narrative. The "broad brush" characterization of Confederate forces is not accidental, just like the fact the war was fought between two slave-holding republics. In the case of the Confederacy, diversity really was "our strength"; however, being outnumbered as much as 4 to 1 was too much to overcome.

 

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