Today's Hours
Museum: 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Gardens: 7:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Today's Hours
Museum: 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Gardens: 7:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Armand
Armand, front
Armand has a German bisque head, brown hair, and brown eyes. He is wearing a
grey sack coat, a style that appeared around 1850. The sack coat was boxy in
outline and the sleeve had increased in girth from previous fashions; in short,
it was looser and more comfortable than the tighter clothing popular earlier in
the century. In contrast to the overall roominess of the coat, the size of the
collar and lapels decreased, while the coat itself closed much higher than frock
coats. Trousers also become easier in cut; in this case, they are made of black
and white checked flannel. The pant leg was now long enough to reach the heels
of the shoes, but no longer strapped down under them. Checks, like this one,
plaids, and lighter colors in contrast to the jacket were favored for daytime
wear. The first disposable collars for shirts appear during this period; Armand
wears a white standing collar (lower than previous fashions, but still standing)
around which he has tied a very simple black bow tie of the sort that had begun
to replace the cravat. On his head is a gray felt bowler, which also first
appeared in this era, and was the ancestor of the derby; it has a hard rounded
crown and a narrow curled brim. His hair is worn full, waved over the ears but
neatly trimmed in back with sideburns down to the jawline. On his feet are black
kid shoes; these are pumps that were more usually worn for evening, while
half-boots were preferred for the day. At this time, the first buttoned shoes
were introduced for both men and women as well as some laced shoes, though there
was still no distinction between right and left foot shoes in ready-made
shoes.



General Camille Armand Jules Marie, Prince de Polignac, aka Prince Polecat
(1832 - 1913)



Armand was born in Millemont Seine-et-Oise, France to nobility. His father
Jules, Prince de Polignac, had been president of the Council of Charles X of
France. Armand studied mathematics and music at St. Stanislaus College in the
1840s, but in 1853 elected to join the French army and served in the Crimean
War. He resigned from the army in 1859 and studied geography, political economy,
and native plant life in Central America. In the early 1860s, he visited the
United States, where he volunteered for the Confederacy, initially serving on
the staffs of P.G.T. Beauregard and Braxton Bragg and seeing action at the
Battle of Shiloh and the Siege of Corinth. Hes best known, however, for his
participation in the Red River Campaign and the Battle of Mansfield.



The war correspondent W.P. Doran, who wrote under the pseudonym "Sioux", once
described DePolignac thus:



"Polignac was a true type of Frenchman. He was about forty-five years of age
[at the time of the battle of Mansfield], medium size with a long sharp nose,
and he resembled Napoleon Bonapartes portraits. He spoke the French and English
languages fluently, and when in camp, was no better dressed than one of his
orderlies. Those not knowing him would take him for a common soldier. At one
point in the woods, the Federals made a determined stand, and the writer
("Sioux") was near Polignac when he gave orders to the different commanders
under him . . . He ordered battalions and regiments to the different points
specified on his map with the ease of a chess player."


"Polignac was every inch a soldier, and although a (French) volunteer on
the Southern side, he went at it with a vim, and throughout that memorable
campaign (the Red River Campaign) displayed great heroism and great soldierly
qualities. Before the troops became acquainted with him, they daily ridiculed
him; but when they saw his skill as an officer, commanding in the field,
admiration of (Gen.) Polignac soon followed. If the leaders of the Confederacy
had placed a few similar men in command of its armies, the lives of 10,000 grave
men would not have been sacrificed by unskilled generalship."



The above explains a little of how Polignac came by his nickname "Prince
Polecat'. When the first frontal assault on the Union line at the Battle of
Mansfield (sometimes called the Battle of Sabine Crossroads) was handed to
Moutons division on April 8, 1864, General Alfred Mouton was one of the first to
fall in the fighting, dying in the first five minutes. His place in the front
line was immediately taken by his brigadier, General de Polignac, whose upraised
sword waved the soldiers onward up the hill. Later, a Union prison described
Polignacs Confederates as "charging demons" moving forward "like a cyclone".
Despite how beloved and respected General de Polignac became to the men of
Mouton's division, they could not cope with his long French name, and they soon
bestowed upon him the shorter sobriquet of Prince Polecat.



The Red River campaign of March-April 1864 was the handiwork of two rather
incompetent Union commanders, Generals Nathaniel P. Banks and William B.
Franklin of New Orleans. Both were still embarrassed by the defeat of their
attempted Texas invasion in September 1863 at the hands of 47 Irish cannoneers
at Sabine Pass. Now, they decided to invade Texas via the Red River with a fleet
of gunboats and an army of 20,000 cavalry and infantry accompanied by a 700
wagon baggage train. An army of about 9,000 Confederates, under General Richard
Taylor, carefully retreated before them in the direction of Shreveport, as
Taylor attempted to dictate the time and place to engage Union troops. About
March 7, 1864, he decided upon the location where four dirt roads forked (Sabine
Crossroads) about three miles east of Mansfield.



The battle began on April 8th with several skirmishes, but the charge led by
General dePolignac along with a flanking movement by Gen. Walker's infantry and
General Green's cavalry caused the Union line to break; their infantry panicked
and ran. By nightfall, the Union had 2,200 casualties and the Confederates about
1,300, most from dePolignac's division. The Confederates captured twenty Union
cannons and 200 wagons loaded with ammunition, provisions, and food.



Receiving 4,000 reinforcements the next day, Taylor renewed the attack on Union
troops at Pleasant Hill, La. The Union line once again broke, and the
Confederates recaptured Pleasant Hill. However, during the advance, Gen. Walker
was shot in the abdomen, which allowed Union troops the chance to reform and
hold the line. Nonetheless, Gen. Banks continued a slow retreat toward
Alexandria to the disgust of his officers and troops, who sang Banks a little
'ditty' as he road by: "In eighteen sixty-four, we all skedaddled to Grand Ecore
- under Napoleon P. Banks!" The final stats for the Battle of Mansfield were
4,000 Union casualties to 3,500 Confederate casualties. But the Confederates had
halted the Union advance to north Louisiana, an area that would not be taken
until the very end of the war.



After the war, DePolignac resumed his travels and studies in Central America,
though he published several articles on his Civil War experience. During the
Franco-Prussian War, he returned to the French army as a brigadier general. He
had two wives: marrying Marie Adolphine Longenberger in 1874, who died giving
birth to their daughter, and Elizabeth Margaret Knight in 1883, with whom he had
two daughters and one son. He continued to study mathematics and music for the
remainder of his life. When he died in Paris at age 81, he was the last-living
Confederate major general. He was buried with his first wifes family in
Germany.



Interesting side note: Among the Union troops Gen. DePolignac and his men
faced at Mansfield was one with a secret Sarah Rosetta Wakeman who was fighting
under the name "Lyons Wakeman." Rosetta, as she was called by her family, was a
poor uneducated girl from rural New York, the oldest of nine children of a dairy
farmer who was deeply in debt. She hired out as a domestic in her teens to earn
money for the family, but soon realized she would earn more as a man.


At 19, she went to Binghamton and, disguised in masculine array, managed to
get a job as a boatman on a coal barge, sending a large portion of her earnings
home to her family. Army recruiters, thinking she was male, offered her a $152
bounty for enlisting in the 153rd New York Volunteers, which she quickly
accepted. She claimed to be 21 years old and the description on her enlistment
papers recorded that she was five feet tall and fair-skinned with blue eyes. Her
regiment spent the first nine months in Washington, D.C. defending the capital;
Rosetta bragged in letters home, "I can drill as good as any man in my
regiment."


In 1864, her regiment was part of the Union forces in the Red River
campaign. Rosetta wrote of the fighting at Pleasant Hill, Louisiana: "There was
a heavy cannonading all day and a sharp firing of infantry. I was under fire for
about four hours and laid on the field of battle all night." As drinking water
became scarce, the soldiers drank from the same streams that held rotting
corpses of horses and others. They fell sick and died by the thousands from the
combination of infection and wounds. Rosetta wrote of the deceased: "sometimes
in heaps and in rows . . . with distorted features, among mangled and dead
horses, trampled in mud, and thrown in all conceivable sorts of places . . . You
can distinctly hear, over the whole field, the hum and hissing of
decomposition."


In addition to war news, Rosetta wrote frequently of her desire to be a
good provider and her intention to be financially self-sufficient after the war,
hoping to buy a farm of her own. But it was not to be. Suffering from multiple
wounds, she was transferred to the Federal hospital in New Orleans in May of
1864. By the time she got there, she was in an acute phase of dysentery and died
on June 19, 1864. If the doctors discovered her true gender, they didnt report
it; she was buried in New Orleans under the name Pvt. Lyons Wakeman. We know her
story because her letters were later discovered by a relative in the attic of
the family farmhouse and were published in 1994. But who knows how many other
women soldiers died unknown and unremembered?