Camille Armand Jules Marie, Prince de Polignac

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Camille Armand Jules Marie de Polignac
Camille Armand Jules Marie Prince de Polignac.jpg
Nickname(s) Prince Polecat
Born (1832-02-16)February 16, 1832
Millemont, Seine-et-Oise, France
Died November 15, 1913(1913-11-15) (aged 81)
Paris, France
Buried at Hauptfriedhof, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Allegiance  Second French Empire
 Confederate States
Service/branch France French Army
 Confederate States Army
Years of service 1853 - 1859, 1870 - 1871 (France)
1861 - 1865 (CSA)
Rank Brigadier General (France)
Confederate States of America General.png Major General (CSA)

Camille Armand Jules Marie, Prince de Polignac (February 16, 1832 – November 15, 1913) was a French nobleman who served with the Confederates in the American Civil War, living on to become the last surviving Confederate major-general.

After service in the French army in the Crimea, Polignac was travelling in America at the outbreak of war, when he sided with the south. He distinguished himself as a brigadier in the Red River Campaign, notably at the Battle of Mansfield, after which he was promoted divisional commander. Polignac was well-liked by his troops, who found his name hard to pronounce and called him ‘Prince Polecat’, which he apparently found amusing.

Returning to France, he commanded a division in the Franco-Prussian War, before devoting himself to the study of mathematics and music.

Early life and career[edit]

Polignac was born in Millemont, Seine-et-Oise, France, into one of the most famous families of the French nobility. His grandmother, Gabrielle, had been a famous aristocratic beauty and Queen Marie-Antoinette's closest friend. His father was Jules, Prince de Polignac, who had been a passionate supporter of absolute monarchy and chief minister during the reign of King Charles X of France, who trusted him implicitly and shared his political sympathies. Through his first cousin twice removed, Prince Pierre, Duke of Valentinois, he was related to the Grimaldis of Monaco, a family who still rule that principality today.

Polignac studied mathematics and music at St. Stanislas College in the 1840s. In 1853 he joined the French army. He served in the Crimean War from 1854 to 1855, receiving a commission as a second lieutenant. He resigned from the army in 1859 and traveled to Central America to study geography and political economy, as well as the native plant life. He then visited the United States in the early 1860s.

Civil War[edit]

With the outbreak of the Civil War, Polignac initially served on the staffs of generals P. G. T. Beauregard and Braxton Bragg as a lieutenant colonel. He served at the Battle of Shiloh and the subsequent Siege of Corinth. In January 1863, he was promoted to brigadier general. Two months later, he was transferred to the Trans-Mississippi Department and assigned command of a Texas infantry brigade. Polignac is best known for his leadership at the Battle of Mansfield, April 8, 1864, in De Soto Parish, Louisiana, a Confederate victory in the first major action of the Red River Campaign.[1] Polignac received a battlefield promotion at Mansfield to division command after the death of General Alfred Mouton and then proceeded to fight again at the Pleasant Hill, further south in De Soto Parish.[2]

Formally promoted to major general on June 14, 1864, Polignac led the division throughout the remainder of the campaign and during its service in Arkansas in the fall of 1864. In March 1865 he was sent to Napoleon III of France to request intervention on behalf of the Confederacy but arrived too late to accomplish his mission. He was affectionately known by his troops, unable to decipher how to pronounce his name, as "Prince Polecat." He was reportedly much amused when he learned what the term meant.


After the Civil War, Polignac returned to his large estate in France, and resumed his travels and studies in Central America. He published several articles on his Civil War experiences. He returned to the French army as a brigadier general and commanded a division in the Franco-Prussian War (1870 to 1871).

In Ober-Ingelheim on 4 November 1874 he married Marie Adolphine/Adolfine Langenberger (Frankfurt, 7 June 1853 – Paris, 16 January 1876) and had one daughter:

  • Marie Armande Mathilde (Paris, 8 January 1876 – Neauphle-le-Vieux, 29 April 1962), married in Paris on 12 February 1895 to Jean Alfred Octave Comte de Chabannes-La Palice (La Palice, 1871 - Paris, 28 August 1933)

In London on 3 May 1883 he married secondly Margaret Elizabeth Knight (Olivet, 22 June 1864 – La Roche-Gençay, 20 August 1940) and had two daughters and one son:

  • Mabel Constance (London, 29 January 1884 - Tamaris, 28 March 1973), married in Torquay on 12 July 1906 Marie Henri Thierry Michel de Pierredon Comte de Pierredon (Paris, 11 September 1883 - La Roche-Gençay, 8 July 1955)
  • Hélène Agnès Anne (Vienna, 30 June 1886 - Limpiville, 23 December 1978), married in Torquay on 20 August 1910 Henri Marie Georges Le Compasseur Créqui Montfort Marquis de Courtrivon (Saint-Adresse, 27 September 1877 - Neuilly, 4 April 1966)
  • Victor Mansfield Alfred (London, 17 June 1899 - 4 November 1998), married in Monaco on 27 June 1963 Elizabeth Ashfield Walker (Washington, 11 May 1896 - Monaco, 17 November 1976), without issue

Polignac continued to study mathematics and music until his health failed.

When he died in Paris, France at the age of 81, Polignac was the last living Confederate major-general. He was buried with his wife's family in Germany in Hauptfriedhof, Frankfurt-on-Main.

The Texas Tech University historian Alwyn Barr in 1998 released the second edition of his Polignac's Texas Brigade,[3] a study of Polignac and the Texans who fought in Mansfield and then Sabine Crossroads.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "'Lafayette of the South'". Advocate. Baton Rouge. p. 6D. 
  2. ^ Winters, John D. The Civil War in Louisiana. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1963. ISBN 978-0-8071-0834-5, pp. 340-347, 348-355
  3. ^ Polignac's Texas Brigade. Google Books. Retrieved October 16, 2010. 


External links[edit]