Camille Armand Jules Marie, Prince de Polignac (also known as Prince Polecat; February 16, 1832 – November 15, 1913) was a French nobleman, scholar and soldier who joined the Confederate States Army at the outbreak of the American Civil War and became major general before the end of the war. He was one of the few French-born generals in the war.
Early life and career
Polignac was born in Millemont Seine-et-Oise, France, into one of the most famous families of the French nobility. His grandmother, Gabrielle, had been a famous aristocratic beauty and Queen Marie-Antoinette's closest friend. His father was Jules, prince de Polignac, who had been a passionate supporter of absolute monarchy and chief minister during the reign of King Charles X of France, who trusted him implicitly and shared his political sympathies. Through his distant cousin, Pierre de Polignac, he was related to the Grimaldis of Monaco, a family who still rule that principality today.
Polignac studied mathematics and music at St. Stanislas College in the 1840s. In 1853 he joined the French army. He served in the Crimean War from 1854 to 1855, receiving a commission as a second lieutenant. He resigned from the army in 1859 and traveled to Central America to study geography and political economy, as well as the native plant life. He then visited the United States in the early 1860s.
With the outbreak of the Civil War, Polignac initially served on the staffs of generals P. G. T. Beauregard and Braxton Bragg as a lieutenant colonel. He served at the Battle of Shiloh and the subsequent Siege of Corinth. In January 1863, he was promoted to brigadier general. Two months later, he was transferred to the Trans-Mississippi Department and assigned command of a Texas infantry brigade. Polignac is best known for his leadership at the Battle of Mansfield, April 8, 1864, in De Soto Parish, Louisiana, a Confederate victory in the first major action of the Red River Campaign. Polignac received a battlefield promotion at Mansfield to division command after the death of General Alfred Mouton and then proceeded to fight again at the Pleasant Hill, further south in De Soto Parish.
Formally promoted to major general on June 14, 1864, Polignac led the division throughout the remainder of the campaign and during its service in Arkansas in the fall of 1864. In March 1865 he was sent to Napoleon III of France to request intervention on behalf of the Confederacy but arrived too late to accomplish his mission. He was affectionately known by his troops as "Prince Polecat."
After the Civil War, Polignac returned to his large estate in France, and resumed his travels and studies in Central America. He published several articles on his Civil War experiences. He returned to the French army as a brigadier general and commanded a division in the Franco-Prussian War (1870 to 1871). In 1874 he married Marie Adolphine Longenberger (1853-1876) and had 1 daughter:
He married Elizabeth Margaret Knight (1864-1940) in 1883, and they had two daughters and one son:
- Mabel (1884-1973)
- Agnes (1886-?)
- Victor (1899-1998)
Polignac continued to study mathematics and music until his health failed.
When he died in Paris, France at the age of 81, Polignac was the last living Confederate major general. He was buried with his wife's family in Germany in Hauptfriedhof, Frankfurt-on-Main.
- Camille Armand Jules Marie, Prince de Polignac at Find a Grave Retrieved on 2008-08-12
- Handbook of Texas Online
- John D. Winters, The Civil War in Louisiana, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1963, ISBN: 0-8071-0834-0, pp. 340-347, 348-355
de:Camille Armand Jules Marie de Polignac fr:Camille Armand Jules Marie de Polignac it:Camille Armand Jules Marie, Principe di Polignac no:Camille Armand Jules Marie Prince de Polignac