|This Monument at Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond, Virginia, honors more than|
30 Jewish Confederate soldiers who gave their lives in defense of the Confederate States.
By Catherine Calos
A year after the Civil War ended, Richmond's Jewish women came together to honor and mourn their own:
Marx Myers, killed at Manassas; Henry Smith, at Fayette Courthouse; Herman Hirsh, in Westmoreland County; Isaac Levy and Gustavus Kann, at Petersburg; Madison Marcus, Henrico County; and 30 other Jewish Confederates from around the South, dead in the defenses of Richmond.
The local men were buried in family plots around Hebrew Cemetery on Shockoe Hill.
Others shared a plot known as the soldiers' section. Caring for them became the goal of the Hebrew Ladies' Memorial Association. And in a fundraising letter "to the Israelites of the South" on June 5, 1866, Mrs. Abraham Levy explained that the group intended to place a headstone at each grave and erect a monument to their service.
"In time to come, when our grief shall have become, in a measure, silenced, and when the malicious tongue of slander, ever so ready to assail Israel, shall be raised against us, then, with a feeling of mournful pride, will we point to this monument and say: 'There is our reply.'"
That reply, bordered by an elaborate iron fence with draped muskets and crossed sabers, remains standing in Richmond, a testament to the service of Jews during the Civil War.
North and South, Jews were very much a part of the wartime response.
They were soldiers and blockade runners, merchants and calligraphers, public leaders and farmers. They died in battle, came home wounded, tended to the sick. Families tore apart as they chose sides. Tales of bravery and heartache lived for generations.
- Judah Benjamin, sometimes known as "the brains of the Confederacy," was one of the South's highest-ranking officials. He served as attorney general, secretary of war and finally secretary of state during the four years that the Confederate capital was in Richmond.
- Myer Angle, first president of Congregation Beth Ahabah, had six sons who fought for the Confederacy.
- Phoebe Pember tended the sick and wounded as chief matron at Chimborazo military hospital, where as many as 75,000 were treated during the war.
- Gustavus Myers, city councilman for 28 years and council president for 12, was one of the men who met with President Abraham Lincoln on a surprise visit to Richmond on April 4, 1865, to talk about an oath of allegiance for former Confederates.
There's much more. See the full story here:
Photo by J. Stephen Conn