Skip to comments.Abe's kin fought for South
Posted on 06/30/2003 6:32:11 AM PDT by stainlessbanner
President Abraham Lincoln had personal troubles that transcended merely running the war. His wife, the former Mary Todd of Lexington, Ky., had four brothers and two brothers-in-law in the Confederate service, which provoked constant public criticisms and expressions of doubts about the first lady and her own loyalties. Also, Mrs. Lincoln was mentally unstable (she eventually would be institutionalized) and became a madcap shopper whose buying binges in New York's stores drove the president to distraction.
Robert E. Lee, the general in command of the Army of Northern Virginia, was the son of Henry (Light Horse Harry) Lee, a hero cavalryman in the Revolutionary War and a governor of Virginia. Lee the younger married Mary Anne Randolph Custis, whose father, George Washington Parke Custis, was Martha Washington's grandson. The Lees lived in the mansion, Arlington House, built by Custis on a site overlooking Washington, D.C. The home and surrounding property were seized by Union forces and turned into a burial ground subsequently known as Arlington National Cemetery.
Lee, as a captain in the Army engineers, was assigned to Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn, in 1841-1846. He supervised improvements to the facility, to a fortress located just off-shore called Fort Lafayette and, according to at least one account, to the fortifications on the Staten Island side of the Narrows.
During the Civil War, Fort Lafayette was turned into a prison for Confederate captives. One of these was Lee's own son, William Henry Fitzhugh (Rooney) Lee, an officer under cavalry Gen. Jeb Stuart who was captured just before the Battle of Gettysburg and was incarcerated at Fort Lafayette for almost a year before being exchanged. "Lafayette" later would be razed and, as related in the book "Portals to Hell: Military Prisons of the Civil War," the island beneath the fort was used to support the east tower of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and its rubble was dumped off Staten Island to buttress the bridge's west tower.
A number of women masqueraded as men to fight in the war. One, Jennie Hodgers, named herself Albert D.J. Cashier, cut her hair and put on men's clothes, enlisted in the 95th Illinois Regiment, and survived 40 battles and skirmishes. She wasn't found out until 1911, by a veterans' hospital doctor who examined her after she was injured in an automobile accident. Even then, her secret was maintained, she continued to collect her pension and, upon her death in 1915, was buried with full military honors. The name on her headstone: Albert D.J. Cashier.
Isidor Straus, whose family emigrated from Germany to Georgia, worked for a company that ran the Union blockade of southern ports for the Confederacy. He and his brother, Nathan, later acquired ownership of the Macy's department store. Isidor and his wife, Ida, died in the sinking of the Titanic in April 1912.
Archibald Gracie IV, who survived the demise of the great passenger liner, was the son of Archibald Gracie Jr., a cotton broker and rebel officer killed at Petersburg, Va., in December 1864. A Gracie ancester built the Manhattan mansion that would become the official residence of New York City's mayors. Bob Raimonto