April 19th, 2011
Latinos Who Served In The Civil War

By Efrain Nieves

In the second, and last, installment of Latinos that served in the U.S. Civil War, we will be featuring some of the most well known Latinos and Latinas that dedicated their lives to the American civil war. See the previous post about Lieutenant Augusto Rodríguez here.

Loreta Velazquez – was born in Cuba on June 26, 1842 to a wealthy family. In 1849, she was sent to school in New Orleans, where she resided with her aunt. At the age of 14, she eloped with an officer in the Texas army. When Texas seceded from the Union in 1861, her husband joined the Confederate army and Velazquez pleaded with him to allow her to join him. Undeterred by her husband’s refusal, Velazquez had an uniform made and disguised herself as a man, taking the name Harry T. Buford.  Some of the battles she was involved in were Bulls Run, Ball’s Bluff, Fort Donelson and Shiloh. Her accounts of the war can be found in her book “The Woman in Battle: A Narrative of the Exploits, Adventures, and Travels of Madame Loreta Janeta Velazquez, Otherwise Known as Lieutenant Harry T. Buford, Confederate States Army.”

Philip Bazaar – was a Chilean immigrant living in Massachusetts who joined the Union Navy at New Bedford, Massachusetts. Bazaar was assigned to the USS Santiago de Cuba during the American Civil War. In 1864, Union General Ulysses S. Grant ordered an assault on Fort Fisher, a stronghold of the Confederate States of America. After the failure of the first assault, a second assault was ordered for January 1865. Bazaar was aboard the USS Santiago de Cuba and served in both assaults on the fort. On January 12, 1865, both ground and naval Union forces attempted the second assault. Bazaar and 5 other crew members, under the direct orders from Rear Admiral Porter, carried dispatches during the battle while under heavy fire from the Confederates to Major General Alfred Terry. Bazaar and his comrades were awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions.

In doing our own research for this article we found it difficult to find information on many of these notables Latinos that served primarily because American History books have pretty much obliterated these facts.  Our kids will never learn of these historical facts unless we teach them. Their goal is to credit only the Anglo-Saxons with the achievements during the Civil War. Fortunately for those of us that love history and/or were taught history outside the U.S.,  all it takes is a bit of scratching on the surface of  manuscripts, written accounts and archives now easily available online for all to view.

Help us showcase more contributions of Latinos to the U.S. by sharing your knowledge with us. Let us take pride together in the certainty that the term aliens does not apply to us.


2 thoughts on “Latinos Who Served In The Civil War

  1. In chapter 1 of her new book, Naturalizing Mexican Immigrants (University of Texas Press 2011), Martha Menchaca discusses the role of Mexicans in South Texas and northern México in the Civil War. South Texas became an important location for the Confederacy after the Union blockaded most of its ports. If the Confederacy could get its cotton to South Texas it could get it to Europe via ports in Brownsville, Texas and Tamaulipas, Menchaca writes. Northern México was also an important refuge for escaped slaves since México had long abolished slavery (a prime motivation for Texas seceding from México). Particularly interesting is her discussion of an offensive by Juan Cortina–a well-loved South Texan/northern Mexican–into South Texas in support of the Union. According to Menchaca, Cortina’s Mexican army contingent did this with full support of the Mexican government (at the time led by Benito Juárez whose sympathies aligned much more closely with Lincoln’s Republicans than with the secessionists).

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