Hungarians Prominent in Veterans' Organizations after the American Civil War
The Civil War, a pivotal event in the history of the United States, saw the active involvement of millions of soldiers and sailors, native-born as well as foreign-born. Among the latter were a few hundred Hungarians, mostly political exiles who came to America after the unsuccessful 1848-49 War of Liberation led by the renowned patriot Lajos Kossuth against the ruling Hapsburg dynasty.
The overwhelming majority of these émigrés settled in the North; only a mere handful chose to live in the Deep South. Aversion to slavery and the lack of economic opportunities were the decisive factors governing this choice. The exiles constituted the first significant wave of immigrants from Hungary. However, their number remained small and the entire Hungarian population of the United States on the eve of the Civil War hovered only around 3,000 according to accepted estimates. Large scale immigration to the United States from Hungary didn't commence until well into the 1870s.
It's impossible to ascertain the exact number of Hungarians involved in the Civil War, but it's not likely to have exceeded 300, with nearly all of them in the Federal army. Yet from this small contingent in blue emerged two full generals, four brevet brigadier-generals, some twenty colonels, and around fifty major and captains. Contributing significantly in most cases to these attainments was previous military experience gained during the upheavals of 1848 and subsequent wars in Europe.
The Civil War had a profound effect on the political, social and economic fabric of the nation. Union victory not only resulted in the total abolition of slavery but also in the strengthening of the central government. The assassination of President Abraham Lincoln propelled Andrew Johnson into the White House. Lacking the political acumen of his predecessor, Johnson quickly became embroiled in a bitter struggle with the Radicals, a powerful minority faction with the Republican party.
The conflict spawned the founding of innumerable groups, associations and organizations involving veterans. Some of these were purely social, established to maintain friendships begun while serving in a particular regiment or other units and to hold reunions where old comrades could meet and swap stories. Others had far more serious purposes.
In May 1865 there were some one million Union soldiers in the ranks. By November this number had dwindled to less than 200,000 and by June of the following year the size of the army was almost back to normal. The abrupt return of so many men to civilian life created an enormous challenge. Welcomed home by elaborate parades and fulsome speeches by local politicians, Northern veterans expected to reap generous rewards for their sacrifices and services. But extravagant praises and lavish promises in most cases turned out to be merely hollow words.
While certain elements advocated the hiring of veterans in preference to stay-at-homes and lobbied to have qualified disabled men appointed to civil offices, usually the opposite occurred as many employers believed army life ruinous to character. In addition, business and industry were simply unable to absorb the vast multitude suddenly flooding the labor market. Consequently alarmingly high numbers of veterans faced unemployment and many were reduced to abject poverty. Commenting on the plight of ex-soldiers, Leslie's Illustrated Weekly Newspaper, October 7, 1865, wrote: " At this moment, in the city of New York, there are many thousands of stalwart and educated men wandering the streets, utterly unable to procure employment, even though their ideas of remuneration be ever so modest."
While the Federal government enacted certain steps such as pensions for the wounded, widows, orphans, and dependent mothers of the deceased, the program to ease the transition of the veteran back to civilian life was dismally inadequate. The government's failure to address urgent needs was the main factor in prompting veterans to organize into formidable pressure groups that would compel politicians to listen to their grievances and elicit prompt and proper remedial measures.
The primary concern of veterans' groups inevitably revolved around fair pension payments. However, these organizations tackled an array of other important issues as well, including proper medical care and soldiers' homes were ex-servicemen in reduced financial circumstances could obtain decent lodgings. Another noteworthy undertaking was the perpetuation of the memories accrued in the war by compiling and preserving vital records, sponsoring conferences, raising statues, encouraging lectures, and printing books and pamphlets.
Political clubs for veterans first appeared in 1864. They were destined to play a vital role in campaigns during the remainder of the century. The soldiers' vote constituted an important factor in elections, particularly in close ones. Furthermore, their support of a particular policy exerted an influence on the rest of the electorate. The Radicals assiduously courted the veterans in their fight against Johnson. The New York Soldier's Friend, a leading paper devoted to veterans' affair, was an enthusiastic supporter of the Radical cause.
The path of the émigrés back to civilian life was very much like that of their native-born comrades, each adjusting in his own way. A sizeable fraction of them achieved commendable success in public service, business, academic pursuits or other careers. Like most ex-servicemen they tended to join various veterans' organizations.
Many of the problems confronting Union veterans were shared by their Confederate counterparts. In addition, surviving followers of the Lost Cause had to cope with the consequences of having fought on the losing side. Their nation did not exist at the end of the war and the U.S. government didn't feel obligated to provide medical care, pension or any other form of assistance to its former foes.
Southerners intent on rebuilding their ruined society, also wasted little time in establishing various veterans organizations. Besides the myriad of local and regional groups, powerful national organizations such as the United Confederate Veterans (UCV) arose. Within a relatively short time, the UCV boasted of more than 200 camps and was the fastest growing fraternal organization in the nation. Southern women played a most conspicuous role in caring for the veterans, remembering the fallen, and erecting monuments. More than 3000 ladies' memorial associations sprouted throughout the South to Confederate dead in the decades following the war.
It's perhaps of some interest to note that while only handful of Hungarians served in the Confederate ranks, the pre-eminent sculptor of memorials to the men and events of the Lost Cause was a Hungarian, George Julian Zolnay. A scion of the distinguished Zsolnay family of the city of Pécs where their internationally famous ceramics works thrives to this very day, he came to the United States attend the Columbian Exposition in 1893. Already enjoying considerable acclaim in Europe, Zolnay had no difficulties in adjusting to life in America. Zolnay's numerous creations, scattered throughout the South, earned him the sobriquet "Sculptor of the Confederacy." Among his most memorable works are memorials to Confederate President Jefferson Davis and his daughter Winnie, affectionately known as the "Daughter of the South."
MOLLUS and GAR
Among the nation-wide organizations catering to Union veterans, two deserve special mention: the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (MOLLUS), or simply the Loyal Legion, and the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR).
On the day after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, several Union officers met to arrange for a meeting of former officers of the army and navy to adopt resolutions relative to the death of the President. Also discussed was the subject of a permanent organization. Furthermore, those attending agreed to discuss the topics raised with other army friends, and be ready to take definite actions at a meeting scheduled for April 20. At this assemblage, it was decided to create a permanent organization. An adjourned meeting was held for this purpose in Philadelphia on May 3, 1865, and a president was elected. Later that month a constitution and by-laws were adopted, in part, and officers were chosen.
The organization provided for District (or local) Commanderies, Grand (State) Commanderies, and a Commander-in-Chief. A full corps of officers was elected on November 1, 1865. The tenure of the first Commander-in-Chief, Lt. Col., T. Ellwood Zell, was rather brief; on the other hand, his successor, namely Major-General George Cadwallader, held the post from November 4, 1865 until his death in1879.
Hungarian MOLLUS companions of the first class - i.e. those who served in the Civil War in a military role - were: Julius Stahel, George Pomutz, Ladislas Zulavsky, Peter P. Dobozy, Ignatz Kappner, and Frederick Knefler.
Thanks to adroit direction and an appealing platform, the Grand Army of the Republic emerged as the dominant veterans' society. It became the chief organization for former servicemen to channel their frustrations and voice their demands. Although the founding of G.A.R. is generally attributed to Dr. Benjamin F. Stephenson, its actual creation was a complex venture and involved the dedicated work of many individuals.
Major George S. Merrill, past commander-in-chief, writing in the August 1890 issue of The New England Magazine, summed up the essence of the Grand Army of the Republic in these words: "With its simple yet comprehensive watchwords of "Fraternity, Charity, Loyalty," it has successfully sought to form a brotherhood of loyal men, to cement the comradeship born of battle, to care for the widow, the orphan, and the disabled, to treasure the story of the uprising, the combat, and the victory, and to incalculate lessons of loyalty."
A book about veterans' groups written a few decades after the war stated: "The interests of the "Loyal Legion" and the Grand Army are nearly identical, and many Veterans have a membership in both organizations."
Needless to say, Union veterans' associations didn't enjoy widespread popularity and often didn't last long where Southern sentiments prevailed. This was especially evident in some of the border states, even in those which didn't secede. For example, while GAR posts sprang up in Missouri immediately after the war and Robert J. Rombauer, one of the four remarkable Rombauer brothers of St. Louis, was elected Grand Commander of the state in 1868, they disappeared a short while later. Robert Rombauer, it may be recalled, was the author of The Union Cause in St. Louis in 1861, an enduringly popular account of those turbulent times.
MOLLUS Members Julius Stahel, George Pomutz, Ladislas Zulavsky, Peter P. Dobozy and Ignatz Kappner
A bookseller before the 1848-49 War of Liberation, Stahel (Commandery of New York, Insignia No; 01491), settled in New York City upon coming to America. At the start of the Civil War, he helped to organize the 8th New York Infantry, becoming the regiment's lieutenant-colonel. Due to his gallant conduct at First Bull Run, he was promoted and in 1863 attained the rank of major-general. As commander of cavalry in the defenses of Washington, DC, Stahel had a long-running cat and mouse game with the redoubtable John Singleton Mosby, the Confederacy's "Gray Ghost." During the battle of Piedmont, VA, on June 5, 1864, Stahel displayed such bravery and leadership that he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1893. Such belated recognition was quite common. Following the war, Stahel spent close to twenty years in the US diplomatic service in the Far East, first in China and later in Japan. He rests in Arlington National Cemetery.
Arriving in the United States in December 1849, Pomutz (Commandery of Pennsylvania, Insignia No: 01159) trekked westward and participated in the founding of New Buda, the Hungarian settlement in Decatur County, IA. Upon the start of the Civil War, he enrolled in the 15th Iowa Infantry. A lieutenant and adjutant in the beginning, he rose to the rank of lieutenant-colonel and for a considerable period in the later stages of the conflict was the de facto commander of the regiment. On March 13, 1865, he was brevetted brigadier-general. Before departing to Russia to take up diplomatic duties there, he compiled the history of the 15th Iowa Infantry, an effort which won considerable praise from the press and his army comrades. Initially US consul to St. Petersburg, he was named Consul General for Russia in 1878. He died there on October 12, 1882.
Ladislas Zulavsky (Commandery of New York, Insignia No.: 01167) was one of five nephews of Lajos Kossuth to fight in the Civil War - the others being three of his brothers: Emil, Casimir and Sigismund, and cousin Albert Ruttkay. All of them came to the United States as young boys in the early 1850s. Both the Zulavsky and Ruttkay families settled in New York City. In 1860 Ladislas and Emil went to Italy where they joined the Hungarian Legion of Giuseppe Garibaldi's army fighting against the Kingdom of Naples. They didn't return until late December 1862. Ladislas was appointed colonel of the 82nd US Colored Infantry, a regiment that saw considerable action in northern Florida. For their service with the USCT (United States Colored Troops), the names of Ladislas, Emil, and Sigismund Zulavsky as well as that of Albert Ruttkay are inscribed on the African-American Civil War Memorial. After his demobilization, Ladislas became a cotton broker in Augusta, GA, and was also a mainstay of the city's Cotton Exchange. When he encountered severe business reverses, the resultant stress led to his mental breakdown. Committed to the asylum in Middletown, NY, he died there on April 22, 1884, aged only 47.
Like Zulavsky, Dobozy (Commandery of Missouri, Insignia No.: 06857) was a member of the Hungarian Legion in Italy. Upon coming to America, he played a key role in organizing the 4th US Colored Heavy Artillery, becoming the regiment's lieutenant-colonel. Following the end of the war, he made his home in West Plains, MO, where he became a well-known and respected figure. Though well into his 80s in 1917, Dobozy offered his services to the government to train cavalrymen. He passed away in October of 1919.
Before being commissioned colonel of the 3rd Regiment US Colored Heavy Artillery in September 1863, Kappner (Commandery of Missouri, Insignia No.: 05281) served with a Missouri volunteer unit, the Engineering Regiment of the West, holding the ranking of lieutenant. Following the war he was cashier of the State Savings Institute in St. Louis, Missouri, before assuming the position of business manager of the Post-Dispatch, a newspaper associated with fellow Hungarian émigré and Civil War veteran Joseph Pulitzer. When he died on October 20, 1891, his obituary notice was printed not only in the local papers but was also carried by a multitude of papers outside Missouri. An obituary by the MOLLUS credited him with having commanded one of the best drilled and disciplined regiments raised during the war. As in the case with Zulavsky and Dobozy, Kappner's name appears on the African-American Civil War Memorial.
Frederick Knefler: Distinguished Soldier and Outstanding Public Figure
Only 15 years old at the start of the 1848-49 War of Liberation, Knefler nevertheless enrolled in the revolutionary army. His father, a physician, was in charge of a military hospital. After the victory of the Hapsburg and Czarist forces, the entire family went abroad, eventually settling in Indianapolis, IN. Young Frederick studied law and also worked as a clerk for Marion County. He formed a life-long friendship with Lew Wallace, the future author of Ben-Hur and other classic novels.
Knefler was by Wallace's side during the early days of the war, including the great battle of Shiloh. In September 1862 he was appointed colonel of the 79th Indiana Infantry. Knefler and his men participated in several notable battles and campaigns: Perryville, Stones River, Chickamauga, Franklin, and Sherman's march to Atlanta. In the final day of the war Knefler was brevetted brigadier-general.
Returning home, Knefler resumed his law career and became a very high-profile public figure. A member of MOLLUS (Commandery of Indiana, Insignia No: 02846), he wrote Missionary Ridge, his account of the storming and capture of the Confederate stronghold, as a contribution to the MOLLUS papers on the Civil War. He was the heart and soul, as well as president, of the Seventy-ninth Regiment Association, faithfully attending its functions. Knefler's other civic involvement are too numerous to list. To cite but one: in September 1875 he was one of the assistant marshals at the grand parade of Indianapolis industries.
When he was appointed pension agent at Indianapolis in June 1877, hundreds of citizens marched on his house to congratulate him and several of his friends and old comrades made heartfelt speeches. Knefler took the appointment very seriously and carried out his mandate most conscientiously.
An incident involving a pension case some years later catapulted Knefler into national headlines. He mailed a communiqué to a client lamenting on the impossibility of getting justice from the Cleveland administration in the Pension Department. The scathing epistle fell into the hands of the bureaucrats at Washington. Free speech may be a constitutional right, but it's not always appreciated. Knefler was peremptorily requested to make a proper apology immediately. When he refused retribution was swift; he was disbarred from practice before the Pension Department. The callous treatment was soundly condemned by a multitude of newspapers, among them the Indiana State Journal, June 17, 1896: "Divested of all personal considerations the disbarment of General Knefler is an act of governmental tyranny and political vindictiveness of the most absolute monarchy in Europe." Knefler wasn't reinstated until May 1897.
Knefler's most enduring contribution as a public official was his tenure on the Board of Regents entrusted with the erection of the Indiana Soldiers and Sailors Monument. Designed by the renowned German sculptor Bruno Schmitz, the splendid monument commemorates the bravery and endurance of the citizen soldiery of Indiana. While the cornerstone was laid in August 1889, formal dedication didn't occur until May 15, 1902, with Lew Wallace as master of ceremonies. However, Knefler didn't live to see the occasion; he died the year before.
Joseph Vandor: Controversial Colonel of the 7th Wisconsin Infantry
Joseph Vandor, a Milwaukee lawyer and first colonel of the 7th Wisconsin Infantry, had a brief and tumultuous tenure as the regiment's commanding officer. Opinions about his merits evoke a lively debate even today; some historians praise his behavior and record; others do not hesitate to criticize and denigrate him. After arriving in the United States, Vandor was professor of modern languages and fencing at military institutions. In 1857 he earned a Bachelor of Law degree from Harvard University and moved to Milwaukee where he set up a thriving practice. Following his resignation from the Union army, he was appointed US consul to Tahiti, a posting he retained for several years. These were turbulent and unsettled times in Tahitian history for France was relentlessly extending its control over the islands, a political development not favored by all the natives. Upon returning to the United States, he and his family settled in San Francisco, CA, where he resumed his legal career. He was active not only in the GAR - Post 5, San Francisco - but also in a host of civic organizations and causes. In 1871 as well as in 1873 he served as judge-advocate for the Department of California. When he passed away in May 1873, his colleagues at the Bar adopted resolutions to adjourn the Courts of the city in respect to his memory, indicating the high esteem he was held by his peers.
Three Indefatigable New Yorkers: Eugene Kozlay, Charles Semsey and Theodore Korony
Arriving in the United States at New York City in February 1850, Eugene Kozlay wandered around the country before returning East and becoming a life-long resident of Brooklyn. A man of diverse talents, he contributed articles to Hungarian and American publications throughout the 1850s, earned a law degree and worked at the Custom House. By the time of the start of the Civil War he held such respect in the community that he was entrusted with raising an organizing a regiment. Composed predominantly of local Germans, this unit, the 54th New York Infantry, was mustered into service with Kozlay as the commanding officer. The regiment spent much of the latter stages of the war in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina. For gallant and meritorious serves Kozlay was brevetted brigadier-general on March 13, 1865.
A staunch Democrat, Kozlay was active in party politics before and after the war. Despite his sterling war record, his affiliation with the party cost him his job at the Custom House. His superiors even accused him of being a Copperhead. But Kozlay remained unperturbed and stuck to his convictions. A leading member of the Rankin Post, No. 10, GAR, he was an enthusiastic participant in a host of organizations. Local newspapers, particularly the Brooklyn Eagle, often carried notices mentioning Kozlay's involvement with various political, civic and veterans groups, e.g. Army and Navy Union, Veteran Soldiers' and Sailors' Association, Conservative Soldiers and Sailors of Kings County, Army of the Constitution, as well as Hildise Bund and a number of other German associations.
Bright's disease cut his life short on April 1, 1883. His son Charles Meeker Kozlay was a steadfast patron of the renowned writer Bret Harte.
Semsey, a scion of one of Hungary's oldest and most distinguished families (the Semsey Andor Museum in Balmazujváros is named after a most illustrious member of the family), came to the United States shortly after the end of the 1848-49 War of Liberation and settled in New York City. During the Crimean War he served in the German Legion, one of the mercenary contingents raised by the British government. When the Civil War began, he enrolled in the 20th New York Infantry but soon transferred to the 45th New York Infantry, becoming the regiment's major.
Upon resuming civilian life, Semsey eventually became a prominent official on Ellis Island (a member of the Board of Special Inquiry) and also immersed himself in a host of organizations. On the evening of September 18, 1892, Semsey was among those who spoke at the headquarters of the New York Hungarian Republican League Club. He addressed the large gathering in English as well as in Hungarian, and, according to the reporter from the Daily Tribune covering the event, "his eloquence called forth great enthusiasm." He was a principal figure in arranging commemorative exercises when Kossuth died in 1894 and at the Kossuth centenary in 1902.
Semsey also lent his time and energy to the Grant and Wilson Soldiers' and Sailors' Campaign Club, the Hungarian Grant and Wilson Campaign Club, the German Veteran Garfield and Arthur Association, and the Veteran Association of the 45th New York Infantry.
A member of the GAR, he was affiliated with the Koltes Post, No. 32, served as post commander for an extended period. He held the position of assistant-quartermaster for the State of New York in 1882. As commander of the Koltes Post, Semsey naturally played a leading role in the acquisition of a burial plot for post members in Lutheran Cemetery, Middle Village, Queens, and he performed the ceremony of laying the cornerstone of the imposing monument in the center of the plot. While the monuments has withstood the battering of the elements over the years, the headstones clustered around it - including that of Semsey who died in 1911 - have fared much worse. Many have sunk into the ground and inscriptions on most others have been extensively obliterated.
Theodore Korony came to the United States as a young boy with his father and they made their home in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At the commencement of the Civil War, he enrolled in the 168th Pennsylvania Infantry. He saw action in a multitude of engagements and sustained severe wounds at Cold Harbor. Several years after the end of the conflict he moved to New York.
A member of the Hancock Post, No. 250 of the GAR, he was elected post commander several times. The post was named in honor of General Winfield Scott Hancock, best remembered for his heroics at Gettysburg. As post commander, Korony participated in a vast array of veteran' activities, including marching in parades, attending charity drives, and of course national encampments. He was among those who spearheaded the fund to erect a fitting memorial to General Hancock. Today, a statues adorns Hancock Square, a sliver of land in Manhattan.
GAR posts throughout the nation held celebrations in April 1891 to mark the 25th anniversary of the founding of the organizations. The W. S. Hancock Post united with several other posts in observing this historic occasion in the Music Hall on 57th Street. As appropriate at such events, Korony shared the platform with an array of notables. It was Korony's pleasant duty as post commander to accept a handsome stand of colors from the Women's Relief Corps in May 1892. The gift was presented by C. C. Shayne, an honorary member of the post. Later in that same month Korony was on the platform with many notables when memorial exercises of the GAR were held at Carnegie Music Hall. Delighting the audience with violin solos was the Edouard Remenyi, the incomparable Hungarian-born musician. The following year Korony was again among the distinguished guests at a gala event held at the Hall. All the proceeds went to benefit the widows and orphans of deceased soldiers.
Korony also participated in Hungarian-American activities and often addressed assemblages on political matters. On August 3, 1892, he spoke in Hungarian and English to a large and enthusiastic meeting of the Hungarian Republicans at Second Avenue and 6th Street, the very heart of the Hungarian community in those days. Three weeks later at a similar venue, he addressed a gathering of the New York Central Hungarian Republican League Club. In October of that year, Korony was chairman of the committee organizing a Benjamin Harrison Campaign Club of War Veterans.
His drive and determination in recruiting new members never ceased to amaze. Commenting on Korony's intensity and success, the New York Herald Tribune, February 22, 1892, wrote: "Although the State of New York sent 500,000 men to the war [...] only a little more than 40,000 are members of the Grand Army. This would not be so if all the posts had recruiting officers like Commander Theodore G. Korony of the W. S. Hancock Post. He averages half a dozen new members for muster at every post encampment."
When Korony heard of unfair treatment meted out to former servicemen by indifferent bureaucrats, he formed a committee to investigate the discharge of veterans from public service. His example was followed by many other posts. But not all his initiatives met which such reception. In 1893 Korony advanced a radical proposal concerning the admittance of applicants for membership, a proposal which not only stirred attention in local GAR circles but made headlines in major newspapers throughout the nation. It proposed to fix the year 1895 as the date for refusing further applications for membership, after which the books of the organization would be closed, and no more candidates mustered in, except in cases where a dispensation has been granted. The principal reason behind the proposal was that the GAR has been around for nearly three decades and those veterans who haven't enrolled are unlikely to do so. While Korony's proposal drew some support, the overwhelming majority of GAR comrades opposed the idea.
Charles Mundee: Brilliant Career and Ignoble Death
Among the very few Hungarians who emigrated to the United States prior to the events of 1848-49, Mundee was living in Leavenworth, KS, in the 1850s. Despite the tense situation prevailing as pro- and anti-slavery men fought for control of the territory, he enjoyed a comfortable and prosperous living, being a prominent businessman and active participant in public affairs. Mundee was also an ardent and high-profile Mason; as a matter fact, much of what is known about him prior to the Civil War comes from the Masons. After the fall of Fort Sumter, Mundee became captain and assistant adjutant-general in a Kansas unit. Gallantry and conspicuous bravery at the battles of Winchester, Fishers Hill, Cedar Creek and several other engagements earned him a series of commendations and promotions. His finest moment in the war came on April 2, 1865 when he was temporarily in charge of the Vermont Brigade during the siege of Petersburg. For his deeds that day, he was brevetted brigadier-general.
Following the end of the war Mundee was appointed Registrar of Land Office at Tallahassee and moved to Florida with his wife and children. When Florida was constituted a Provisional Department of GAR in February 1868, he became its Commander.
While returning home from a reunion of the Army of the Potomac at Boston in 1871, Mundee stopped in New York City to see some old comrades. For some inexplicable reason, he acquired interest in a seedy saloon. When an irate customer complained to the police that he had been robbed, Mundee was among those arrested. Locked up in the Tombs, he was overcome by convulsions and died a few hours later. The entire sequence of bizarre events was reported in several newspapers throughout the nation. Mundee's friends and associates were baffled because he was a wealthy man of high standing. The prevailing opinion was that he had become mentally unbalanced.
Charles Vidor: A Hungarian in the Confederate Ranks
Charles Vidor, best remembered today as the grandfather of famed film director King Vidor, was one of the handful of Hungarians to see military service on the Confederate side. He was only 15 years old when he arrived in the United States aboard the Mount Stuart Elphinstone, the same ship that brought Eugene Kozlay to America. After a few years in New York City, he made his home in Galveston, Texas, and remained a resident of the Oleander City until his death in 1901.
As the Civil War began, Vidor enrolled in the Galveston Lone Star Rifles, later was with the 1st Regiment Texas Infantry, and ended his military career as captain in the Quartermaster Department. Among those intent on rebuilding their shattered society, Vidor worked hard in the cotton trade and later in the insurance business.
A founding member of the local Cotton Exchange, Vidor was a leading figure in numerous public activities and also held municipal office. He played a prominent role in the establishment of the city's Eye, Throat and Ear Infirmary in 1872, was an active Mason, acted as a volunteer firefighter, and served as Galveston County treasurer. He was an ever-present figure at various veterans' functions whether it was connected with the Galveston Lone Rifles, Hood's Texas Brigade or the United Confederate Veterans.
General Douglas McArthur once said: "Old soldiers never die, they just fade away." Indeed, more and more of them faded away with each passing year. Membership in associations dwindled and reunions became less elaborate. To honor the final encampment of the GAR in Indianapolis, IN, on August 28 to September 1, 1949, the U.S. Post Office issued a 3-cent stamp that year. Two years later a stamp of the same denomination was released to commemorate the final reunion of the United Confederate Veterans in Norfolk, VA, on May 30. While all Civil War veterans, Union and Confederate, are long gone, their deeds remain forever etched in the annals of history.
Notes and Comments
There are several excellent books about veterans' organizations and their activities; particularly comprehensive and informative are The History of the Grand Army of the Republic by Robert B. Beath, published in 1889; Veterans in Politics, The Story of G.A.R. by Mary R. Dearing, originally released in 1952; and Union Blue, The History of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States by Robert Girard Carroon and Dana B. Shoaf, from 2001.
Other worthwhile books touching on the subject include Manual of the Civil War and Key to the Grand Army of the Republic and Kindred Societies by J. Worth Carnahan from 1897, History of the Confederated Memorial Associations of the South, a massive opus printed in 1904 by the organization described, and My Old Confederate Home, authored by Rusty Williams and published in 2010. The Civil War service of the individuals mentioned above is summarized in a host of standard reference works; comprehensive biographical sketches are also presented in the recently published Hungarian Emigres in the American Civil War by István Kornél Vida.
Books loaded with a myriad of facts about foreigners inevitably contain minor errors, which can lead to confusion and misunderstanding. Thus in Union Blue Dobozy appears as Doborzy, while Martin Ofele's monograph German-Speaking Officers in the U.S. Colored Troops, 1863-1867 (2004) tends to refers to him as Dobosy. Moreover, the former identifies Knefler as colonel of the 70th Indiana Infantry instead of the 79th, while the latter book denotes the Zulavsky family as Zsulavszki, even though upon coming to America they ceased to use any Hungarian form of their surname.