Posted by stanley najolia on 12 APR 2004 14:34:29
When I found my great-grandfather (Christopher Najolia ...Cristofaro Ingargiola )listed among the Usteci in the Confederate Army I decided to find out more about this. What follows probably applies to many of the names on the list also. Many Usteci men were sailors on commercial trading ships and New Orleans was a major port of call. Family oral history says my great-grandfather was a ship's cook and he made several trips to New Orleans during the 1850's. He decided he wanted to make the city home for himself and the new bride still in Ustica he married in 1859. He was in New Orleans preparing a home when the Civil War began in early 1861. Unable to leave because the Union Navy promptly blockaded ship departures, he found, like foreign nationals from Britain, France, Spain, Holland, Belg ium etc that he was expected to provide military assistance to the newly created Confederate States of America. This requirement was strongly opposed by all the consuls of these European nations as aga inst the neutral status they wanted to maintain. The governor of Louisiana at the time, Thomas Moore, was insistent and the British consul, George Coppell and the French consul, Count Mejan, areed to a compromise. The foreign nationals in the city would not be sent to battlefields in other Southern states in return for providing military police duties in New Orleans itself. All the other consuls, Italy included, accepted the agreement, and in November 1861 the European Brigade was created under command of General Paul Juge of Belgium . The European Brigade was extremely important during the 5 days ( April 25-30, 1862 ) when Confederate General Lovell was forced to evacuate his 8,000 plus land soldiers (Union ships had bypassed the 2 forts at themouth of the Mississippi and land resista nce was not practical ). With the Army departing and the prospect of General Benjamin Butlers U.S. troops arriving any day, the streets became chaotic with fear. The wharves were set ablaze to keep goo ds from Union hands and many people were called spies, etc by others lookingto find scapegoats for the cities fall. The brigade was the only armed force able keep total chaos from enveloping the city. It disbanded in May.