Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Confederate "Creoles of Color" of Mobile, Alabama 1861-1865.

There are a group of people that came into existence in Mobile, AL as a result of interracial marriage and or sexual relations, forced or consensual, which became known as the "Creoles of Color." The Catholic Church Registrars during the Spanish period have many such relationships and the children were generally given their freedom, by their fathers. These "Creoles of Color" were a bridge between the white and black (both slave and free) populations in Mobile, Alabama.
This community formed in 1819 the Creole Fire Company, which had as its founding members 5 Hispanic “Creoles of Color.” They were Rene Rafael, Vincent Chavana, Manuel Barcello, Augustin Joseph (Jose) and Francis Yrigoyen (born October 31, 1800, son of Miguel Yrigoyen and Constance Hugon). This company saw service in the War Between the States. The company was accepted as part of the Mobile Fire Battalion, for local Home Guard defense, at the onset of the Civil War.
The "Creoles of Color" were mobilized for the war on December 17, 1862 by the Mayor of Mobile Robert H. Slough, who issued a proclamation entitled "An Act authorizing the enrollment of the Creoles of Mobile." This Act authorized the enrollment of all male "Creoles of Color" between the ages of 18 and 50 to defend Mobile and the county. They were "requested and ordered" to appear before the Chief of Police within 10 days for registration and enrollment.
The Creole Fire Company, was accepted into Alabama State service on November 20th, 1862, by an Act of the Legislature, and was renamed the Native Guards on April 8, 1865. This unit served as a Home Guard force and helped do military guard duty as well as helping police the county, and of course, fighting fires. It was officially disbanded on April 12, 1865, but a few of its members left the city with the other Confederate forces and finally surrendered, with General Richard Taylor, at Citronelle, Alabama, on May 4, 1865.
The "Creoles of Color" who had existed since the earliest days of the French period, absorbed the Spanish members of the community to such an extent that almost all Spanish surnames have since "daughtered out." This community was among the last to preserve the French language in Alabama, and its last fluent speaker died in the mid 1960s.
There are still some French passive bilinguals, but no study of this language survival or what influence the language had from Spanish, English or African languages has ever been done. The "Creoles of Color" have always been an intriguing and misunderstood people and it is sad that no true study has ever been performed, on the richness they have bought to Alabama history. The main communities are found on Mon Louis Island, and the north eastern parts of Mobile County and the Weeks Bay area, of Baldwin County. There are many smaller communities, which exist in both counties and the "Creoles of Color" have inter-married into both the White, Black and Native American populations, in southern Alabama.
Their influence will remain a part of Alabama historically, linguistically and socially, for generations to come.

You can visit and learn about the Cuba Libre Camp Project of the Admiral Semmes Camp 11, Sons of Confederate Veterans which is a project to identify all known Cuban Confederate Soldiers, as well as other Hispanics and Minorities who served in the Confederate Military.


  1. John-
    Don't forget about Santos Benavides' company of Confederates at Laredo. Their main mission was to watch the border with Mexico and counter any possible problem that might arise there. But they were called upon to move to Brownsville, fighting and driving back Union Troops from Rio Grande City and other towns along the way. They played a major part in the final battle of the Civil War at Palmito Ranch.

  2. The South had the Army and Government with the most diversity and yet it is attacked as racist wheres the Union army remained segregated until 1959.