Latinos Served in the American Civil War: Lieutenant Augusto Rodríguez

by Efrain Nieves

This week marks the 150th anniversary of the start of American Civil War. In an effort to link up our contribution, albeit not often mentioned, during the civil war we decided to introduce you to the men that served and received condecorations for their service and valor. Our first feature of this series is Puerto Rican born and Union Army Lieutenant Augusto Rodríguez.

Lieutenant Augusto Rodríguez was born in 1835 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Rodríguez migrated to the United States and according to the 1860 census, was one of the only 10 Puerto Ricans living in New Haven, Connecticut.

In 1862, Rodríguez joined the 15th Connecticut Regiment, Connecticut’s volunteer infantry also known as the Lyon Regiment which was named after the first General officer killed in the civil war Nathaniel Lyon. Rodríguez’s Regiment was first assigned to serve as the defense of Washington D.C. until September 17, 1862.

In December 1862, Rodríguez’s Regiment marched to Virginia where, under the command of Major General Ambrose E. Burnside, they fought against General Robert E. Lee’s confederate army in the battle of Fredericksburg.

In March of 1865, Rodríguez along with his men, joined the battle of Wyse Fork under the command of Major General John M. Schofield and were victorious against the Confederate army.

Rodríguez was awarded the American Civil War Campaign medal and was discharged on July 12, 1865. Soon after Rodríguez became a firefighter for the city of New Haven, CT.

Pa’lante salutes this patriot and demonstrates that Latinos’ contributions to this nation is not recent. Back in 1865 Puerto Rico was a Spanish subject nation, not a U.S. commonwealth. Therefore, Rodriguez’s joining the Union Army was not related to being a U.S. citizen but an act of voluntary enrollment by a man that felt compelled to defend his newfound country.

www.latinamericanstudies.org

www.elboricua.com

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10 Responses to “Latinos Served in the American Civil War: Lieutenant Augusto Rodríguez”

  1. Not only was Augusto committed to serving his country but also his city of New Haven, Ct. as a firefighter, even after having served his country. What the article doesn’t say is what situations he had to overcome, learning a new language, leaving the country he loved, and perhpas loved ones, having to deal with racism in a country that was already divided. Great story, Efrain. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Why is racism an issue with Ms. Monet? Lt. Rodriguez apparently assimilated quite well in his chosen country. I’m sure he was an educated man and more than qualified to lead men into battle. As a firefighter he had to prove he was just as strong and brave as the men he served with or else he would never have been accepted on the job. By the way, the spaniards were racist s.o.b.s in their treatment of native Puerto Ricans way before the end of the Spanish-American War.

  3. I been doing some research on the 15th Connecticut. I found some old family documents of an ancestor that served in that regiment with Augusto Rodriquez. I also saw the picture of Augusto Rodriquez in my research and thought what an interesting story and life Augusto must have had. Being born and raised in Puerto Rico, and then moving to the North East. We forget that the USA and the America’s have been a mixing of cultures for hundreds or years.

    • That is what we stress to educate.

    • Puerto Ricans who came to the US and fought in wars were segregated based on their appearance so this man probably assimilated fine into White culture. When Puerto Ricans were brought over for WWII they had no inkling of racial issues in the US so they refused to choose a race as the US Army wanted them too so they were put in respective segregated units. American Latinos were never segregated, as Blacks were, they were put in all White units. This is not to say they didn’t experience racism because many did based on their surnames.
      Not sure if they do so today but back in the 80s the US Army had training books that stated that PR’s were the result of marriages between Blacks and Taino Indians.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. A Latino Civil War Lieutenant: Augusto Rodríguez | NewsTaco - April 13, 2011

    [...] This week marks the 150th anniversary of the start of American Civil War. In an effort to link up our contribution, albeit not often mentioned, during the civil war we decided to introduce you to the men that served and received condecorations for their service and valor. Our first feature of this series is Puerto Rican born and Union Army Lieutenant Augusto Rodríguez. [...]

  2. Latinos Served in the American Civil War: Lieutenant Augusto Rodríguez - Cafe Con Leche GOP - May 27, 2013

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    […] By Efrain Nieves – reposted from Pa’lante Latino with the author’s permission –original link […]

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