Camille Armand Jules Marie, Prince de Polignac
Camille Armand Jules Marie de Polignac
February 16, 1832|
Millemont, Seine-et-Oise, France
|Died||November 15, 1913
|Buried at||Hauptfriedhof, Frankfurt am Main, Germany|
|Allegiance|| Second French Empire
|Service/branch|| French Army
Confederate States Army
|Years of service||1853 - 1859, 1870 - 1871 (France)
1861 - 1865 (CSA)
|Rank||Brigadier General (France)
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
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.
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. 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.
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).
- 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)
- 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.
The Texas Tech University historian Alwyn Barr in 1998 released the second edition of his Polignac's Texas Brigade, a study of Polignac and the Texans who fought in Mansfield and then Sabine Crossroads.
- Eicher, John H., and David J. Eicher, Civil War High Commands. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001. ISBN 978-0-8047-3641-1.
- Sifakis, Stewart. Who Was Who in the Civil War. New York: Facts On File, 1988. ISBN 978-0-8160-1055-4.
- Warner, Ezra J. Generals in Gray: Lives of the Confederate Commanders. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1959. ISBN 978-0-8071-0823-9.
- Winters, John D. The Civil War in Louisiana. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1963. ISBN 978-0-8071-0834-5.
- Handbook of Texas Online