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Ruined by This Miserable War

The Dispatches of Charles Prosper Fauconnet, a French Diplomat in New Orleans, 1863–1868

Carl A. Brasseaux

Publication Year: 2013

In March 1863, after Northern general Benjamin F. Butler demanded the recall of the French consul-general, an unabashed Confederate sympathizer, from Union-occupied New Orleans, Charles Prosper Fauconnet assumed the duties of acting consul. A seasoned diplomat who had risen slowly through the ranks in Latin America and the United States, Fauconnet quickly and effectively repaired the rift between local French and American authorities while striving valiantly to safeguard the interests of his government and the French nationals who found themselves literally and figuratively caught in the crossfire.
    From 1863 through 1868, Fauconnet maintained a copybook of his official correspondence with the French Ministry of State. These confidential dispatches, collected for the first time in this valuable volume, provide not only a panoramic view of the Civil War and Reconstruction on the Gulf Coast but also new and important information on the transnational aspects of America’s Civil War.
    Eager to explain complicated issues to a French government concerned over the fate of one of its former territories, Fauconnet painstakingly laid out what was happening in New Orleans by drawing on war news, newspaper columns, and summaries of speeches and promises of Union commanding officers. His commentary peeled away the layers of contradiction and moral dilemmas that confronted citizens of Southern, Northern, and French heritages during the war years and early postwar period. Among the topics he considered were whether emancipated slaves deserved the same rights as naturalized citizens, the state of the cotton market, and the harassment of French-speaking immigrants by both Union and Confederate authorities. Informative and detailed, Fauconnet’s communications became increasingly acerbic and uneasy as he documented and explained the Civil War to officials in his faraway homeland.
    Breathtaking in its geographic scope and topical breadth, thanks in part to the acute observational and reporting skills of its author, Fauconnet’s correspondence offers a unique and thoroughly fascinating francophone perspective on New Orleans during some of the most tumultuous years in U.S. history.

CARL BRASSEAUX is the author of over thirty books related to the French presence in the Gulf Coast, including Refuge for All Ages: Immigration in Louisiana History; French Cajun, Creole, Houma: A Primer on Francophone Louisiana; and Stir the Pot: The History of Cajun Cuisine. Until his recent retirement, he was director of the Center for Louisiana Studies and professor of history at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

KATHERINE CARMINES MOONEY, a Ph.D. candidate at Yale University, is a specialist in nineteenth-century history. Her research includes the history of thoroughbred horse-racing culture from 1820 to 1910.


Published by: The University of Tennessee Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. iii-iv

Contents, List of Illustrations

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pp. v-viii

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Preface

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pp. ix-xii

Because of the highly fragmentary nature of the relatively large and rapidly growing body of secondary literature relating to Louisiana’s Civil War experience, it is difficult for nonspecialists to obtain a comprehensive view of that topic. John D. Winters’s standard overview, The Civil War in Louisiana, though ...

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Introduction

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pp. xiii-xxv

July 4, 1863, was one of the most important Independence Days in American history. The Union army repulsed for good the Confederate invasion of the North at Gettysburg, secured the surrender of Vicksburg in the West, and took control of the Mississippi River. Northern soldiers rejoiced at winning such great ...

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1. 1863

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pp. 1-54

Moving from these movements and military activities to General Banks’s purely political and administrative acts, I shall now alert Your Excellency to publication of a general order relating to the president’s latest proclamation on the abolition of slavery in certain states or portions of states said to be in open ...

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2. 1864

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pp. 55-114

Mr. Minister, I have already had the honor of notifying Your Excellency of an order from General Banks relating to plantation labor, in which he announced that he would promulgate new regulations on this subject on February 1.1 These regulations have, in fact, become the subject of a new order, issued on the third, ...

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3. 1865

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pp. 115-165

General Hurlbut also issued two new orders about free labor on plantations. By the first, planters are required to pay immediately the wages due workers withdrawn from the said plantations in order to be subjected to [military] conscription, under penalty of a fine equal to the amount of the actual wages. The ...

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4. 1868

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pp. 167-188

I have the honor of transmitting to Your Excellency some newspaper clippings concerning Mexican affairs. Anarchy is now more than ever the order of the day there, and that unfortunate country, to which France had extended a helping hand, now seems to be atoning for the crime of Querétaro.1 Everywhere, revolt deploys its flag ...

Notes

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pp. 189-235

Index

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pp. 237-243


E-ISBN-13: 9781572339217
E-ISBN-10: 1572339217
Print-ISBN-13: 9781572338593
Print-ISBN-10: 1572338598

Page Count: 312
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Voices of the Civil War
Series Editor Byline: Peter Carmichael, Series Editor

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • Fauconnet, Charles Prosper 19th cent. -- Correspondence.
  • Louisiana -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Sources.
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Sources.
  • French -- Louisiana -- History -- 19th century -- Sources.
  • Reconstruction (U.S. history, 1865-1877) -- Louisiana -- Sources.
  • France. Consulat (New Orleans, La.) -- History -- 19th century -- Sources.
  • Diplomatic and consular service, French -- Louisiana -- New Orleans -- History -- 19th century -- Sources.
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