Few Confederate Generals had a more exotic background than the man known affectionately by his troops as Prince Polecat.
Born on February 16, 1832, Camille Armand Jules Marie, Prince de Polignac, had a very aristocratic pedigree. His father Jules had been the chief minister of Charles X, and his grandmother Gabrielle had been the closest friend of Marie Antoinette. Serving in the French Army during the Crimean War, he resigned his commission in 1859 and traveled throughout Central America. Arriving in the US at the outbreak of the war, he quickly decided to support the Confederacy, and enlisted in the Confederate Army.
He served on the staffs of Generals Beauregard and Bragg, and served at Shiloh and the siege of Corinth. Promoted to Brigadier General in January 1863, he was given command of a Texas brigade in the Trans-Mississippi theater two months later. Surprisingly, the French aristocrat and the wild and wooly Texans got along famously.
On April 8, 1864 at the battle of Mansfield, Louisiana, Polignac led the charge that routed the Union army under Banks. For this service he received a battlefield promotion to Major General. He served with the Confederate Army until March 1865 when he was sent to France on a diplomatic mission seeking recognition from the Confederacy. The war ended before negotiations could be completed.
During the Franco-Prussian War he commanded a French division. In retirement he wrote articles about his experiences during the Civil War. He died on November 15, 1913, the last surviving major general of the Confederacy. His son, who lived to be 99, died in 1998, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he was not the last surviving child of a general of the Confederacy.