January 12, 1861

Benjamin Mordecai, Great Jewish Benefactor of the Confederate Cause, is Honored By, and Praises in Return, the Famed Palmetto Riflemen

Autograph Letter Signed
1 page
SMC 148
The Palmetto state, South Carolina, was the first to secede, and its proud son, Jewish merchant Benjamin Mordecai, the first to ante up: his $10,000 donation, made as soon as the state left the Union, was the single largest personal contribution to the cause of the Confederacy. The secession convention, in fact, passed a resolution praising Mordecai’s “liberality and patriotism… and…very generous donation.” Within weeks of secession, Mordecai wrote this letter to the famed Palmetto Riflemen militia - which, during the Mexican War and afterwards, had a greater than usual component of Jewish soldiers – in light of, assumedly his generous donation. “Your favors of the 11 inst with enclosed Resolutions of the Palmetto Riflemen as adopted at an extra meeting convened on the 8 inst is duly received,” he declares, and accepts “with much pleasure and pride the high compliment bestowed by your patriotic corps, and feel assured that the Rank and File are worthy the name they bear, and that whenever our gallant State shall require their service, they will ask that the post of danger shall be their post of duty.” Mordecai went on to generously serve his beloved home – running blockades, buying Confederate bonds, and most notably, underwriting a significant portion of the “Free Market of Charleston,” a fund which supported more than four hundred families of volunteer soldiers. Even after the war, Mordecai spent his remaining money on the Cause: in 1870, living in Baltimore and running a steamship line, he brought back to Charleston, at no charge, the bodies of the South Carolinians who fell at Gettysburg.
Autograph Letter Signed (“B. Mordecai”), 1 page, quarto, Charleston, January 12, 1861. To Captain Alex Melchers of the Palmetto Riflemen.
View American Civil War Manuscripts.
Read transcript Bookmark