A Black Patriot and a White Priest: Andre' Cailloux and Claude Paschal Maistre in Civil War New Orleans

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Stephen J. Ochs chronicles the intersecting lives of the first black military Civil War hero, Captain André Cailloux of the 1st Louisiana Native Guards, and the lone Catholic clerical voice of abolition in New Orleans, the Reverend Claude Paschal Maistre. Their paths converged in July 1863, when Maistre, in defiance of his archbishop, officiated at a large public military funeral for Cailloux, who had perished while courageously leading a doomed charge against the Confederate bastion of Port Hudson. The story of ...
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Overview

Stephen J. Ochs chronicles the intersecting lives of the first black military Civil War hero, Captain André Cailloux of the 1st Louisiana Native Guards, and the lone Catholic clerical voice of abolition in New Orleans, the Reverend Claude Paschal Maistre. Their paths converged in July 1863, when Maistre, in defiance of his archbishop, officiated at a large public military funeral for Cailloux, who had perished while courageously leading a doomed charge against the Confederate bastion of Port Hudson. The story of how Cailloux and Maistre arrived at that day and what happened as a consequence provides a prism through which to view the black military experience and the complex interplay of slavery, race, radicalism, and religion during American democracy's most violent upheaval.

About the Author:
Stephen J. Ochs is the author of two previous books, including Desegregating the Altar: The Josephites and the Struggle for Black Priests, 1871–1960,. He lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, and is chair of the history department at Georgetown Preparatory School.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The primary setting for the latest historical work by Ochs (Desegregating the Altar) is Afro-Creole New Orleans during the Civil War. The players are the Roman Catholic Church; New Orleans's Roman Catholic Afro-Creole community; Andr Cailloux, a former slave and the first black Civil War hero; and Claude Paschal Maistre, an unorthodox white abolitionist priest, who, against church policy, presided over Cailloux's funeral. A solidly researched and documented text, the book is at once a double biography of Cailloux and Maistre and the tale of how, ironically, their patriotism and their moral and political struggles often found them in opposition to their church, government, and neighbors. Cailloux died heroically for the Union cause at the Battle of Port Hudson, where the black regiment that he led fought with bravery and courage, proving to the staunchest opponents of blacks in the military that they were fit to fight. Avid readers of U.S. military history will especially enjoy this book. Recommended for African American history, military history, and religion collections.--Sherri Barnes, Univ. of California Lib., Santa Barbara Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
Kirkus Reviews
The saga of a rebellious priest and a black hero-soldier who both played leading roles in the drama of emancipation during the Civil War in New Orleans. Ochs (Desegregating the Altar, not reviewed) a teacher and history department chairman at Georgetown Preparatory School, paints a densely ironic picture of the destiny of these two men whose lives cross as one is burying the other. Andre Cailloux, a captain in the Union Army, became the first black war hero when he led a hopeless charge against the Confederate forces at Port Hudson, Louisiana. Maistre, a priest whose shadowy past included mixed tales of sex and money, was nonetheless the sole Catholic voice of abolition in New Orleans in 1863. The French born-Maistre had developed a special ministry for black Catholics, and he defied his own bishop's orders in agreeing to preside over Cailloux' funeral. But whatever large (and perhaps even the small) points Ochs is attempting to make about the Catholic clergy of the day or the trials of free blacks (such as Cailloux) who fought in the Civil War tend to get lost in a heavily footnoted and endlessly detailed swamp. The most basic necessity of such a story (i.e., a clear and vivid picture of Cailloux and Maistre) never emerges from the thicket of Ochs's tangled narrative, leaving altogether too many unanswered questions about their lives. Indeed, it's never entirely clear if the two men ever met while Cailloux was still alive. Ochs writes that `by sharing the collective stories of our past we come to a better understanding of our common humanity and of our identity, both individual and societal.` This is true enough, and Ochs is obviously is quite sympathetic to the cause andthespirit of these two men, but it is also unfortunately true that he fails to breathe much life into them. Had done more to illuminate the humanity of these heroes, his history would have had both merit and appeal. As it is, it is for specialists only.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807125311
  • Publisher: Louisiana State University Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/2000
  • Series: Conflicting Worlds Series
  • Pages: 328
  • Product dimensions: 6.42 (w) x 9.34 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface
Abbreviations
Prologue: A Hero's Funeral 1
1 Paths to Freedom 9
2 Free Person of Color 40
3 Officer of the Native Guards 68
4 Abolitionist Priest 95
5 Challenges in the Field 116
6 Two Battles 132
7 Two Fronts 185
8 Repentant Radical 234
App Muster Rolls of Two Companies of Louisiana Native Guards 267
Bibliography 273
Index 289
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