A Black, Jewish Officer in the Civil War
Contributed by: Phil Downey
Mr. Downey writes:
My great great grandfather Morris Morris was an officer in the Louisiana Native Guard.
Morris' mother's maiden name was Carvalho. It is my understanding through oral family
history that Morris Morris was Jewish. I have also come to learn that Morris was also part
black *I do not know what percentage. Morris migrated to New Orleans with his mother from
Jamaica shortly before the war began. I have confirmed through the
Jamaican Jewish Genealogy
website, that the Carvalho's of Jamaica were Jewish.* I also believe Morris' father was
Jewish, thought I have no firm proof on this matter. There is a website dedicated to the
Louisiana Native Guard which contains information and photos of Morris Morris. After the
war Morris changed his name to Lewis Morrison and went on to become one of the great stage actors of
the latter 19th century. I believe he changed his name for two reasons:
Morris Morris' regiment, "The 1st Louisiana Native Guard," organized as a Confederate Home Guard regiment in June of 1861 and was accepted for service
as a Louisiana Militia unit by the Governor of Louisiana shortly thereafter, but was not documented as having seen combat as a Confederate regiment. After
the Union occupation of New Orleans in 1861/62, some Black and mulatto officers and enlisted men of the regiment accepted Union service and formed a
new USA regiment under the same name. Therefore, although Morris Morris served briefly as a Black Jewish Confederate officer, most of his military
service and all of his combat service in the War was as a Union officer. The reorganized "Native Guard" did fight in many battles on behalf of the Union.
* Incidents of Travel and Adventure in the Far West by Solomon N. Carvalho can be found on this website. Solomon Carvalho was a native a Barbados, and very probably a relative of Morris Morris.