AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED, FROM SUMMERVILLE SC, 20 NOVEMBER 1864, TO LT. R.J. CUNNINGHAM, ASKING HIM TO SERVE AS LIEUTENANT IN A CONFEDERATE BATTALION OF NORTHERN PRISONERS OF WAR WHO WERE MUSTERED INTO THE CONFEDERATE ARMY FROM THE FLORENCE S.C. STOCKADE.

Single page, entirely in ink manuscript. Old folds, irregular inner margin, light wear, Very Good.

"I have a Battn. of six Companies of Foreigners and will be glad to have you with me as 1st Lt. to rank 1st or 2d. I would have offered you a Captaincy had I thought of it in time but now I am committed and will have to be content to offer you the Ltcy. Oscar LaBorde is to be one of my Captains, and George Marshall another, so also is John Minott. George Taylor I have offered 2d Lt. and intend to offer Willie Taylor a 1st. The Batn numbers six hundred men and if I get the offs. applied for I will have a fine command.
"Let me know at your earliest convenience if you will accept. I hope you are getting well. Yours truly | J.H. Brooks."
War Secretary James Seddon authorized recruitment of Union POW's on September 30, 1864. Brooks's battalion was organized October 10, 1864, as "Brooks' Battalion of Foreigners." It saw front-line action with McLaws Division until December 18, 1864, then was returned to Florence because of desertions and mutiny. According to Wikipedia, at least 1600 Union prisoners of war enlisted in Confederate service from late 1864 until the end of the War. Most were "recent German or Irish immigrants who had been drafted into Union regiments." Brooks was evidently among the more enthusiastic Confederate advocates of the plan.
Wade Hampton had a more jaded view of the plan to muster Yankee prisoners of war into Confederate service: "Colonel [J.H. Brooks's] Battalion, composed of Federal prisoners of war enlisted from prison into Confederate service, was found at Savannah to be utterly untrustworthy. The men deserted in large numbers, and finally mutinied, and were narrowly prevented from going over in a body to the enemy. The ringleaders were shot and the remainder sent back to prison. These men were selected with great care, and were principally foreigners, and this is, therefore, a fair test of such troops. I recommend that all authority to organize similar commands be revoked." [Current, Lincoln's Loyalists. Union Soldiers from the Confederacy 130]. Item #37301

Price: $850.00