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Resignation of Captain Philip Trounstine, 5th Ohio Cavalry, in protest against "General Orders #11"

This letter was written in response to General Grant's "General Orders #11" expelling the Jews "as a class" from the military department commanded by General Grant, including Northern Mississippi and West Tennessee. For some reason, Memphis, which had a very large Jewish community, was not affected by this order.

Capt. Philip Trounstine is mentioned by Sylvanus Cadwallader, in his book "Three Years with Grant", as being "the only officer of Hebraic extraction in the Union Army", and goes on to speak in high praise of Capt. Trounstine. Obviously Cadwallader had never heard of Col Marcus M. Spiegel of the 120th Ohio Vol. Infantry, the only Jew to be commissioned as a General in the Union Army. Tragically, Col. Spiegel was killed during the Red River campaign before he could take command of his brigade. (See A Jewish Colonel in the Civil War, excerpted on this website.

Captain Trounstine was so outraged over General Grant's "Order #11" that he sent in his resignation in protest, being ordered to round up and expell his fellow Jews. Following is his letter of resignation which is included with his military records in the National Archives:

[Letter of resignation from Captain Philip Trounstine, dated Moscow Tennessee, March 3, 1863, giving as his reason Anti-Semitism from other officers as a result of General Grant's "Order #11", anti-Jewish expulsion decree. Original letter is included with Captain Trounstine's military records at the National Archives Trust. A copy of this letter has been donated by jewish-history.com to the American Jewish Archives in Cincinnati, OH.]

Head Quarters Co "B" 5th Reg. O.V.C.
4th Division 16th Army Corps
Moscow Tennessee March 3rd 1863

Major C.S. Hayes
Comdg 5th Reg. OVC.

Major!

I respectfully address you, on the subject of tendering you with this, my resignation of the commission I now hold, as Captain of Company "B" 5th Regt. Ohio Volunteer Cavalry. The reasons for offering the above, are few, and I shall therefore try to be as concise as possible in presenting them to your consideration. You are perhaps well aware of my having been, whether fortunately or unfortunately born of Jewish parents; my future must of course decide which; you will therefore bear with me, Major, when I say that not alone; my feelings, but the sense of Religious duty, I owe to the religion of my Forefathers, were both deeply hurt and wounded in consequence of the late order of General Grant issued December 17th 1862, in which all persons of collateral religious faith with my own, were ordered to leave this Department. I do not wish to argue the question of Order No. 11 being either right or wrong, nor would I, if even I dared to, But I cannot help feeling, that as I owe filial affection to my parents, Devotion to my Religion, and a deep regard for the opinion of my friends and feeling that I can no longer, bear the Taunts and malice, of those to whom my religious opinions are known, brought on by the effect that, that order has instilled into their minds. I herewith respectfully tender you my immediate and unconditional resignation.

I certify upon honor that I have no property belonging to the Government of the United States in my possession. I was last paid by paymaster Major Jordan to include August 31st 1862.

I have the honor to be, Major,
Very respectfully,
Your Obedient Servant
Philip Trounstine
Capt. Co. "B" 5th Reg O.V.C.


Related Pages (links to pages not on Jewish-history.com will open in a new window)

Jewish Victims of "General Orders #11"
Isaac Leeser's editorial from The Occident
Similar expulsion decree in Russia, 1844
Expulsion of Jews from Gaza, 2005