they formed the basis of several reforms which were subsequently carried out. Incessant work and an uncongenial climate having impaired his health, Stahel resigned in 1885, and returned to New York, where he became connected with one of the largest financial institutions of the country.

Unlike his friend, Alexander Asbóth, he was blessed with a long life, and thus had more opportunities to bring his abilities into full play. He lived up to his high ideals of honor and duty, he was a cheerful companion and a loyal friend, and, in a delicate and unostentatious manner, did much to help his less fortunate brethren. He visited Hungary during the Millennium in 1896; and among his souvenirs of an eventful life there was none which he valued more highly than a picture of Louis Kossuth with his autograph dedication. He died in New York on December 4, 1912, and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.


The Garibaldi Guard, or 39th New York Infantry Regiment, was the most cosmopolitan organization in the War for the Union. It was composed of Hungarians, Germans, Italians, Frenchmen, Spaniards and men of various other nationalities, but the Hungarians had a plurality over any of them and constituted nearly one-half of the regiment. This gave it something of an Hungarian character, which came to expression also at the presentation of colors. Three flags were presented: An American, an Hungarian, and an historical Garibaldi flag. On one side of the Hungarian, red, white and green standard "was the motto, within a wreath, Vincere aut morire; and on the opposite side, in English, the same motto, Conquer or die. The regimental name appeared on each side, over and underneath the wreath, in English. This

[graphic][ocr errors]

Presentation of Hungarian Colors to the Garibaldi Guard, New

York, May 23, 1861

elegant present was from Miss Grinnell. It had four beautiful silk pendants of colors and inscriptions, the latter embroidered as follows: White, Sylvia Grinnell; red, Presented to the Garibaldi Guard; blue, New York, 23d May, 1861; red, white and blue, Brethren before, brethren again'23.

At the beginning of the war many regiments chose showy or fanciful uniforms, the general favorite being the costume of the Zouaves. Reading the papers of that period, one gets the impression that each state must have furnished at least half a dozen Zouave regiments. The uniform of the Garibaldi Guard was something unique, being modeled after that of the Italian Bersaglieri, and they wore hats with big cock-feathers. They were a soldierly-looking lot, and carried their flags with honor all through the eastern campaigns, their list of battles including: First Bull Run, Cross Keys, Gettysburg, North Anna, Bristow Station, Po River, Mine Run, Spottsylvania, Wilderness, Tolopotomoy, Coal Harbor, Petersburg, Strawbury Plains, Ream's Station, and Deep Bottom.

The first colonel of the regiment was an Hungarian, Frederic George Utassy; among the other Hungarian officers were Major Anthony Vékey, Captains Victor Sándory, Francis Takács and Anthony Utassy, and Lieutenants Louis Tenner, Charles Utassy and Charles Zerdahelyi.

Zerdahelyi came from a noble family, and was a pupil of Liszt and a pianist of some note. He was a captain in the Honvéd Army, and was entrusted by the Hungarian Government with a confidential mission to Germany; but on his way thither he was captured by the Austrian police, and kept in a dungeon at Kufstein in heavy irons for two years. Through his refined manners and accomplishments as a musician he made many friends among cultured Americans, and support

23 Harper's Weekly, June 8, 1861.

ed himself as a teacher of music24. But the horrors of Kufstein had left an indelible mark of sadness on his genial face.

Quite different in temperament was his close friend, Col. Philip Figyelmessy, a true representative of the Hungarian hussar at his best. He was handsome, chivalrous, dashing, reckless, of winning manners; and his devotion to Kossuth was little short of adoration. He had been a major of the Bocskay Hussars, and, having belonged to the garrison of Komárom, received a safe-conduct, with which he could stay in Hungary. But he soon aroused the suspicions of the Austrian police, and had to flee the country. Kossuth trusted him implicitly, and sent him on several important missions to Hungary. He entered the country in various disguises, as a Galician Jew or a Servian pig dealer, and, although he had some hairbreadth escapes, he always managed to deceive the Austrian police. One day in 1853 he was taking breakfast with Capt. Mayne Reid in London, when the latter, glancing at a paper, noticed a news item according to which “the famous emissary, Figyelmessy” had been captured in Hatvan and hanged. It turned out later that it was a Capt. Thury, with a fatal likeness to him, who had

24 There are many interesting reminiscences about Zerdahelyi and other Hungarian exiles in The Life and Public Services of George Luther Stearns, by Frank Preston Stearns, Lippincott's, Philadelphia, 1907. It appears that there was a little Hungarian Club in Stearns' home-town, Medford, Mass., and Mr. Stearns and his friends extended much sympathy and help to the Hungarian refugees. Besides Zerdahelyi, Col. and Mme. Thuolt, Capt. (Stephen) Kinizsi, "General Kalapkur,” the Rev. “Achs,” and M. and Mme. Zulavsky are mentioned by name. I do not know the evolution of the name Thuolt. “General Kalapkur”for whom George Luther Stearns, Henry W. Longfellow and others organized a riding school, and who seems to have been an impostor-was perhaps identical with John Kalapka, Lieutenant of Hussars, who had been with Kossuth at Kutahia. The Rev. "Achs," whose Unitarian leanings seem to have pleased Mr. Stearns a great deal, was none other than Gideon Acs, Kossuth's chaplain. Being a fine oriental scholar, he gave a course of lectures on Egypt and the Assyrians.

been mistaken for him by the watchful Austrian police and actually hanged.

Through his connection with Kossuth and Pulszky he became acquainted with many prominent Britons, and his exploits and adventures were so much talked about in London at that time that Edwin Lawrence Godkin—who had written a history of Hungary25 and was then connected with Cassel's publishing house offered to write a story of his life with the Hungarian struggle for independence as the background.

In Italy, in 1859, Figyelmessy was Kossuth's aide-de-camp. The following year he organized and commanded a squadron of Hungarian hussars, with which he fought through Garibaldi's Sicilian campaign. He treasured to his last day a letter from Garibaldi, in which the latter wrote of him as the bravest of the brave.

Finding the prospects of a renewal of the war and of carrying it into Hungary gone, he came to America in 1861 to offer his sword to the Union. He was well supplied with letters of introduction, among which was one from Kossuth to Secretary Seward. He did not think much of the volunteers, and declined the colonelcy of a regiment of dragoons on that account. All his compatriots belonged to the volunteer force; but he was commissioned colonel in the regular army, and was ordered to report to Gen. Frémont at Wheeling, who made him inspector-general. Later he became inspector-of-outposts to his countryman and friend, Gen. Stahel.

He did also a few Hungarian hussar stunts during the war, as when he “with only fifteen men brilliantly charged and put to flight a body of

25 The History of Hungary and the Magyars. By Edwin Lawrence Godkin, New York, 1853. 8-vo., 380 pp. A reprint of the Eng. lish edition.

« ElőzőTovább »