Confederate Orthodox soldiers in the Civil War

In 1861, the Greeks living in New Orleans organized their own volunteer militia regiment to fight on the Confederate side in the Civil War. From Fr. Alexander Doumouras, in the 1975 book Orthodox America: 1794-1976:

Government records show an unofficial memorandum mentioning “Greek Company A,” Louisiana Militia, 1861. The company included a captain, three lieutenants, eight non-commissioned officers and twenty privates. Although it was called “Greek,” the list included other Orthodox people residing in New Orleans after 1860.[1]

A few months ago, I mentioned this fact to the pastor of Holy Trinity Greek Cathedral in New Orleans. He’d never heard such a story; nevertheless, it’s all true. Here’s a note from the May 28, 1861 issue of the Daily True Delta, an old New Orleans newspaper:

Our Greek fellow citizens are emulating the public spirit of other nationalities, and are organizing a company. The old blood which animated the heart of heroic Greece will be found yet strong in the veins of her children resident among us.[2]

Within only a few days, there was trouble. And, in a precursor to the next 150 years of American Orthodox history, this dispute was all about nationality. From the Daily True Delta on June 1:

The Greek company recently formed, for lack of other employment, has become split into parties, and the excitement of internal feuds supplies the place of more legitimate hostilities. One party strenuously opposes the entrance into the company of any but [illegible] Pure Greeks, while the other favors the admission of men of all nationalities. An embittered contest of factions led to personal collisions, in which the sharp logic of steel was used by the opposing parties, as the only argument which would convince obstinate doubters on either side. Chartres street, near Madison, was this morning the scene of the last animated debate between the opponents. Three or four of the contenstants were considerably worried by “gentlemen on the other side,” one of whom was sent to the hospital, one is lying at the company’s armory and two were conducted to the Second district lock-up.[3]

Just a few days after that incident, another member of the Greek regiment, Alexandro Philipuso, “was attacked and severly wounded with knives, by some persons […] who from their language are supposed to have been Sicilians.”[4]

The last news I’ve found of the Greek regiment comes from June 20, 1861. The Daily True Delta reported simply,

There has been some trouble in the Greek company of volunteers, and five of them have been arrested on a charge of larceny, proferred, as we understand, by some of their own officers. This is bad for the Greeks.[5]

Yes, it was bad for the Greeks. I don’t know what became of the Greek regiment, but it sure doesn’t sound like they would have been very useful in battle.

[1] Fr Alexander Doumouras, “Parish Development” in Constance J. Tarasar, gen. ed., Orthodox America 1794-1976 (Syosset, NY: The Orthodox Church in America Department of History and Archives, 1975), 38.
[2] “A Greek Company,” Daily True Delta (May 28, 1861), 1.
[3] “Greek Meets Greek,” Daily True Delta (June 1, 1861), 1.
[4] “Recovering,” Daily True Delta (June 12, 1861), 1.
[5] “The Greeks,” Daily True Delta (June 20, 1861), 1.

3 Replies to “Confederate Orthodox soldiers in the Civil War”

  1. Among some miscellaneous Confederate service records is a sheet pertaining to one Captain Nicholas Touloubief, commanding officer of “Greek Company A.” It records that he received a commission as captain on May 30, 1861, but at the bottom it notes that the unit was disbanded.

  2. Silouan, where did you find this information? It sounds like you’ve come upon a valuable source.

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