- —Biblical Data:
- In Tribal Days.
- After the Settlement in Canaan.
- Elements for a General Levy.
- Reign of Saul.
- Reign of David.
- Decline Under Solomon; Cavalry.
- Spirit of Bravery.
- —Ancient and Medieval:
- Fighting on Sabbath.
- Classical Times.
- In Southern Europe.
- In Spain.
- Germany and Austria.
- American Jews in the Revolutionary War.
- Jews in the Civil War.
- Jews in the Spanish-American War.
- Jews Serve Under Napoleon.
- Jews Under Wellington.
- A Jewess Sergeant-Major.
- Jews in Modern European Armies and Navies.
- High Reputation of Italian Jews.
- Jews in the British Army and Navy.
This term, here used to designate the defensive force of Israel at all stages of the nation's history, embraces widely dissimilar aggregations of men. The Hebrew vocabulary scarcely indicates these distinctions fully. Thus, the most comprehensive Hebrew term is ("force" or "forces"); , a much more common designation, is properly "an army in the field"; while means "an army in order of battle." As the character of any fighting body depends upon its composition and organization, the subject will here be treated from this point of view. The decisive historical dividing-point is the institution of a standing Army in the time of King David, an epoch coeval with the establishment of the kingdom.In Tribal Days.
In the old tribal days levies were made by the chief of each clan, to be employed either in the general cause or in the interests of the clan itself. As typical of this custom may be cited the levy of Abraham, mentioned in Gen. xiv. Abraham here musters his own well-tried servants—hereditary retainers, not chattels of questionable loyalty—and these constitute a military body prepared to operate in the maneuvers of the brief campaign (xiv. 14). In verse 24 of the same chapter a suggestion is given of the readiness with which kindred or friendly clans fell in with a movement to help the general cause. The "army" here consists of all reliable, able-bodied men, who possess no other discipline than that acquired in the vicissitudes of semi-nomadic life. The same conditions apply to the deeds recorded in Gen. xxxiv. 25, xlviii. 22, and virtually remain unchanged during the desert wanderings of the tribes. The encounter with Amalek (Ex. xvii. 8-13) is an example of these frequent conflicts with alien peoples, which are also vividly exemplified in the gradual subjugation of the Canaanites by the Hebrew confederacy, detailed in Judges i. 1-ii. 5, where the attack is described as being made either by single clans or by a combination of tribes. Here the fighters include all those capable of bearing arms, the division of forces depending solely upon the exigencies of the occasion.After the Settlement in Canaan.
A slightly different system prevailed after the settlement had been fairly established. The necessity of defending territory once acquired led to the formation of a kind of irregular militia in each considerable district. Combinations for the common defense against external and internal enemies naturally followed; and these gradually led to the formation of an elementaryArmy organization, in which the unit consisted of a military body or company () of no fixed numerical standard, but accustomed to act together and to obey a popular leader. The existence of such companies is already indicated in the Song of Deborah (Judges v. 14, Hebr.), where it is said: "From Machir came down the troop-leaders [A. V. "governors"], and from Zebulun those marching with the baton of the captain"; the captain here being "the writer" (see A. V.), or the man who kept the muster-roll of his troop—a duty later delegated to a special officer (Jer. lii. 25). Such companies consisted of volunteers, many of whom in course of time took up the business as a permanent occupation. In periods of national or local danger these men were of great service to their people; but when no great occasion demanded their interference, they were apt to become a species of licensed freebooters. Both Jephthah and Samson seem to have been typical leaders of such free-lances, whose capacity for mischief, in the event of a wide-spread discontent with the existing order of things, was exemplified by David's band of outlaws.Elements for a General Levy.
While some of the ruder and rougher of the judges thus became leaders of semi-professional warriors, an entirely different order of soldiery was being developed in a more regular way. As the clan and family chiefs of the earlier days put their men into the field and led them, so in more settled times the great landholders furnished their respective quotas for the common defense. Thus the term (gibbor Ḧayil) in some cases came to signify both "man of valor" and "man of property"—that is to say, the landed proprietor furnished his contingent of fighting-men in proportion to his wealth; and his military reputation ordinarily depended upon such display of force. This was one of the reasons why Gideon, the most stable of the judges, was chosen to take the lead against the Midianites. In the later period of the Judges there were three elements in a general levy: (1) casual recruits, a more or less irresponsible body; (2) the freemen of the family or household, with their bondmen; (3) irregular troopers of the guerrilla order. Gideon's sifting process on the march (Judges vii. 2 et seq.) illustrates the various grades of quality in his motley Army.
The reign of Saul constituted a stage of transition in the military as well as in all the other affairs of Israel. During this régime the Philistines, the most military people of Palestine, had become a constant menace to the Hebrews, and had thereby revealed the imperative necessity both of a stable government and of a standing Army for the national defense. It was merely an unclassified levy that Saul had with difficulty raised against the Ammonites (I Sam. xi. 7 et seq.). After the repulse of those tribes, however, he dismissed the greater part of the host, retaining 3,000 to hold points of vantage in Bethel and Gibeah against the Philistines (I Sam. xiii. 2 et seq.). Naturally, the king and the crown prince Jonathan divided the command between them; the former selecting for his special service any man distinguished for personal prowess (I Sam.xiv. 52). But the changing fortunes of the war and the king's mental troubles precluded any further development. Thus, while a standing force was recognized as necessary, the soldier was still any one capable of bearing arms. Such a militia, naturally, provided its own supplies (compare I Sam. xvii. 17), and received no pay.
The decisive advance made by David consisted in his having at the capital, and indeed as an appendage to the court, a small body of chosen troops who were strictly professionals, were equipped with a regular commissariat, and received fixed wages (compare I Kings iv. 27). These were not chosen, like the old levies, by tribal representation, but were recruited from the best available sources. Some had doubtless been members of David's former band of outlaws, while others were Philistines; and it was from the latter that the whole body derived its name, ("Cherethites and Pelethites"). At the same time, the general militia was still maintained and extended (II Sam. xviii. 1; II Kings i. 9; xi. 4, 19). Upon the death of David's old general Joab, the captain of the guard Benaiah became commander of the whole Army; and it may be assumed that thenceforth the two positions were usually vested in the same officer.Decline Under Solomon; Cavalry.
All hopes that Israel would continue to be a great military nation came to an end through the misgovernment in the later years of Solomon, and the schism which it occasioned; nor had the Army under David attained to an equality with the respective military forces of other leading Eastern nations of the period. In David's time, cavalry formed no part of the service. Introduced by Solomon, it had to be abandoned by the immediate successors of that ruler. Both horses and chariots, however, were employed during and after the Syrian wars. According to the report of Shalmaneser II. of Assyria, who fought against him in 854
- Apart from the data furnished by the Bible itself, some casual information is given in Josephus (Ant.). The inscriptional accounts of Assyrian wars in Syria and Palestine afford a few details. For the army operations of antiquity in the Orient, the Egyptian and the Assyrian monumental sculptures—especially the latter—are of high value. Special treatises are:
- Gleichgross, De Re Militari Hebrœorum, 1690;
- Zachariae, under the same title, 1735, and the articles in the Bible dictionaries, among the best of which is that of Bennett in the Encyc. Biblica.
- See also Spitzer, Das Heer- und Wehr-Gesetz der Alten Israeliten, 2d ed., 1879;
- Nowack, Hebräische Archäologie, i. 359 et seq.;
- F. Schwally, Semitische Kriegsalterthümer, vol. i., Leipsic, 1901.
Of peaceful disposition, the Jews at all times have shown bravery in war. As the terms for virtue among the Greeks and Romans, ἀρετή and virtus respectively, are derived from military prowess, so the nobleman among the Hebrewsis called "ish Ḧayil" (the man of [military] strength; warrior). Abraham, the prototype of the nation, while guided by the words, "Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, . . . for we are brethren" (Gen. xiii. 8, R. V.), goes courageously to war against the four mighty kings to rescue his nephew, and refuses to take a portion of the spoils after having liberated the land of Sodom (Gen. xiv. 14-23). It fell to Esau's, not to Jacob's, lot to "live by the sword" (Gen. xxvii. 40); yet no sooner did Simeon and Levi, the sons of Jacob, learn of the villainy (not "folly," as in A. V. and R. V.) which Shechem, the son of Hamor, had wrought with regard to their sister Dinah, than they "took each man his sword, and came upon the city boldly, and slew all the males" (Gen. xxxiv.). The Mosaic laws on warfare, which insist that peace should be offered to a city before it be besieged (Deut. xx. 10), are framed on the presumption that faint-heartedness is rare among the people; since the officers are enjoined to issue before the battle the proclamation: "What man is there that is fearful and faint-hearted? let him go and return unto his house lest his brethren's heart faint as well as his heart" (Deut. xx. 8; compare Josephus, "Ant." iv. 8, § 41; Soṭah viii. 1). Indeed, the Song of Deborah echoes the spirit of heroic warfare, while it upbraids the tribes and clans that abode by the sheepfolds and would not come to the help of the Lord against the mighty (Judges v. 8 et seq., 16, 23). Thus the battle of Gideon (ib. vii.) was a battle of heroes. So do the feats of Saul (I Sam. xi. 7-11), of Jonathan (ib. xiv. 13-45; compare II Sam. i. 22), of David (I Sam. xvii., xviii. 7) and his men (II Sam. xxiii.), and the warlike psalms (Ps. xx., xlviii., lxviii., cx., cxlix.) testify to the value laid on prowess by the Hebrew nation. The religious enthusiasm of the Hasmoneans lent to their patriotism in war still greater intensity, and made of the people a race of heroes (I Macc. iii. 21, iv. 8 et seq., v. 31 et seq., vi. 42).
Under the Hasmonean dynasty a regular Army was formed (I Macc. xiv. 32), the soldiers receiving payment. Jews served as mercenaries in the Syrian Army also (I Macc. x. 36). Hyrcanus I. was the earliest to maintain foreign mercenaries (Josephus, "Ant." xiii. 8, § 4); Alexander Jannæus did likewise (Josephus, "B. J." i. 4, § 3).Fighting on Sabbath.
One of the chief obstacles in Jewish warfare at the beginning of the Hasmonean uprising was that the Jews were prevented from carrying arms on the Sabbath. This exposed them to the peril of being attacked without being able to defend themselves (see I Macc. ii. 38; Josephus, "B. J." i. 7, § 3; ii. 16, § 4; idem, "Ant." xviii. 9, § 2); but it was decided that in defense, and in sieges as well, when the warriors were regarded as carrying out special divine ordinances, fighting on the Sabbath day was permitted (I Macc. ii. 41; Sifre, Deut. 204; Shab. 19a). Whether arms may be carried on the Sabbath as an ornament of the warrior, or not, is a matter of dispute between Eliezer—who stands on the affirmative side—and the other tannaim, who see in weapons of war a necessary evil that the Messianic time, the world's great Sabbath, will do away with (Shab. vi. 4). "Nor did our forefathers," says Josephus ("Contra Ap." i. 12), "betake themselves, as did some others, to robbery; nor did they, in order to gain more wealth, fall into foreign wars, although our country contained many ten thousands of men of courage sufficient for that purpose." Of the heroic valor displayed by the Jews at the siege of Jerusalem, the last three books of Josephus on the wars of the Jews, and the Midrashim, give ample testimony. It filled Titus and his soldiers with admiration. And yet, despite the terrible losses and cruel tortures inflicted upon the nation by the victor, the war spirit did not die out in the Jewish people. Bar Kokba's Army, which tradition places at 200,000 men, performed wonders of heroism (Giṭ. 57a; Lam. R. ii. 2; Yer. Ta'anit, iv. 69a; Pesiḳ. R. 29, 30 [ed. Friedmann, p. 139b et seq.]).
The story of Anilai (Ḥanilai) and Asinai (Ḥasinai), the Jewish robber generals, whose Army filled the lands of Babylonia and Parthia with fear, forms a strange chapter in the history of the Jews of the East (see Josephus, "Ant." xviii. 9, §§ 1-9).Classical Times.
But not only in their own country did the Jews prove to be brave soldiers. Josephus ("Ant." xi. 8, § 5) records that many Jews enlisted of their own accord in the Army of Alexander the Great, and that Ptolemy I., recognizing their bravery and loyalty, took many Jews and distributed them into garrisons (ib. xii. 1). Ptolemy Philometor and his wife Cleopatra committed their whole kingdom to Onias and Dositheus, the two Jewish generals of the whole Army, whose bravery and loyalty were the safeguards of the queen in times of great peril (Josephus, "Contra Ap." ii. 5). Helkias and Ananias, two Jewish generals of Cleopatra, saved her throne from the onslaughts of her own son, Ptolemy Lathyrus (idem, "Ant." xiii. 13, § 1).
Seleucus Nicator and Antiochus, his grandson, kings of Syria, received aid from the Jews in their wars, and in recognition endowed them with many privileges of citizenship (ib. xii. 3, §§ 1-3). TheJews aided the Romans, also, in their wars. Especially did Julius Cæsar speak in terms of high praise of the valor displayed by the fifteen hundred Jewish soldiers engaged in his wars against Egypt and against Mithridates of Pergamus; and in recognition of their services he conferred especial favors on Hyrcanus, the high priest, and on the Jewish people (ib. xiv. 8-10). Mark Antony received assistance from Jewish soldiers, Herod having formed an Army of five Jewish and five Roman cohorts (ib. xiv. 15, § 3). On the other hand, Mark Antony, at the request of Hyrcanus, exempted the Jews from service in the armies because they were not allowed to carry arms or to travel on the Sabbath (ib. xiv. 10, §§ 12, 13).
It was reserved for the Christian emperor Honorius to issue (418) a decree—renewed by Theodosius, by Clotaire II., and by the Byzantine emperors—forbidding Jews and Samaritans to enlist in the Roman army (Codex Theodosianus, xvi. t. 8, 16), probably in view of their Sabbath observance, as Dohm ("Die Bürgerliche Verbesserung der Juden," i. 151) suggested; but, as he contended (ib. p. 154), this does not afford sufficient reason (see also "Protocolle der Dritten Rabbiner-Versammlung zu Breslau," 1846, p. 196; "Juden-Emancipation," in Ersch and Gruber, "Encyklopädie," p. 297, note 49).Babylonia.
Of the military spirit of the Jews of Babylonia the following fact bears testimony: Twelve thousand Jews had fought in defense of Cæsarea Mazaca against Sapor I., only to be defeated and massacred; and when the news reached Samuel, the great teacher of Nehardea and friend of the new dynasty, he would not show signs of mourning, as his patriotic feeling was stronger than his love for his coreligionists (M. Ḳ. 26a).Arabia.
Of the warlike spirit of the Jews in Arabia, the story of Dhu-Nowas and the chivalry of Samau'al Ibn Adiya are by themselves sufficient testimony. When Mohammed came to Medina he found the whole country full of Jews ready to resist him with arms in hand, and he was anxious to make them his allies. They refused. But though they were noted for being brave and sturdy fighters, they lacked strategic skill and organization. First the Banu Ḳainuḳa were surrounded, captured, and allowed to leave the country for the Holy Land; then the Banu Nadhir, part of whom were massacred, the rest emigrating also to Palestine; lastly the Jews of Khaibar, after having fought like lions, surrendered and emigrated to Babylonia (628). "The sword which the Hasmoneans had wielded in defense of their religion, and which was in turn used by the Zealots and the Arabian Jews [in the cause of freedom], was wrung from the hands of the last Jewish heroes of Khaibar" (Graetz, "History of the Jews," iii. 83). Benjamin of Tudela (twelfth century) found an independent Jewish warrior tribe living in the highlands of Khorasan near Nisapur, numbering many thousand families, regarding themselves as descendants of Dan, Zebulun, Asher, and Naphtali, under a Jewish prince of the name of Joseph Amarkala ha-Levi (Benjamin of Tudela, ed. Asher, pp. 83 et seq.). Another independent Jewish tribe bent upon warlike expeditions is mentioned by Benjamin as living in the district of Tehama in Yemen (ib. p. 70).In Southern Europe.
When the city of Naples was besieged in 536 by Belisarius, the general of the emperor Justinian, the Jews, besides supplying the city with all necessaries during the siege, fought so bravely in defense of the part of the city nearest the sea, that the enemy did not venture to attack that quarter; and when Belisarius at last forced his entrance, they still offered heroic resistance, according to the contemporary testimony of Procopius ("De Bello Gothicorum," i. 9; Graetz, "History of the Jews," iii. 31 et seq.; Güdemann, "Gesch. des Erziehungswesen der Juden in Italien," p. 2). When Arles was besieged by the generals of Theodoric, (508), the Jews, loyal and grateful to Clovis, their king, took an active part in the defense of the city (Grätz, "Gesch. der Juden," v. 56; Eng. transl., iii. 36).In Spain.
Jewish soldiers assisted Childeric in his war against Wamba. The Moors are said to have entrusted to Jews the guardianship of the conquered cities of Spain. Under King Alfonso VI of Castile, in 1068, 40,000 Jews fought against Yusuf ibn Teshufin in the battle of Zalaka, with such heroism that the battle-field was covered with their bodies. Under Alfonso VIII. (1166-1214) there were many warriors among the wealthy and cultured Jews of Toledo that fought bravely against the Moors (Graetz, "History of the Jews," iii. 386; German ed., vi. 229). Alfonso X., called "the Wise," while infante, had many Jews in his army; and in the capture of Seville (1298) the Jewish warriors distinguished themselves so highly that, in compensation for their services, Alfonso allotted to them certain lands for the formation of a Jewish village. He also transferred to them three mosques which they turned into synagogues. The cruel fanaticism of the Moors had alienated the Jews, who were now won over to the Christians by the tolerant rule of the latter (Graetz, ib. iii. 592; German ed., vii. 136). Jews fought bravely at the side of Pedro the Cruel in defense of the cities of Toledo, Briviesca, and Burgos, against Henry de Trastamara, his brother, and had to pay for their loyalty to their king either with their lives and the lives of their undefended wives and children, or, as the Jews of Burgos had to do, with a heavy ransom to the relentless victor (Graetz, ib. iv. 123 et seq.; German ed., vii. 424).Germany and Austria.
According to Brisch ("Gesch. der Juden in Cöln," i. 77), the Jews of Cologne carried arms. They were enjoined to take active part in the military service and to defend the city in case of war ("Cölner Geschichtsquellen," ii. 256, 311); the rabbis on the Rhine permitted the Jews to do so in case of siege. When excommunicated by Pope Gregory VII., Henry IV. was deserted by princes and priests states and cities, but the Jews of Worms in common with their Christian fellow citizens stood by him and defended him with arms in hand. The emperor showed his recognition in the shape of decrees releasing them from paying toll in Frankfort-on-the-Main, Dortmund, Nuremberg, and other centers of commerce (Grätz, "Gesch. der Juden," vi. 88). Jewsdefended the city of Prague against the Swedes in the Thirty Years' War (Grätz, ib. x. 50; English ed., iv. 707); and in 1686, as loyal subjects of Turkey, they defended the city of Ofen against the victorious armies of Austria (Grätz, ib. x. 286). Under Boleslav II., in the tenth century, the Jews fought side by side with their Bohemian fellow-citizens against the pagan Slavs (see Löw, in "Ben Chananja," 1866, p. 348). The Jews of Worms and of Prague were practised in bearing arms. On the other hand, the Jews of Angevin England were prohibited from possessing arms by the Assize of Arms, 1181 (Jacobs, "Jews of Angevin England," p. 75).
Under Ferdinand II. and Maria Theresa, Jews served in the Austrian Army (Wolf, in "Ben Chananja," 1862, p. 61). In 1742-43 Rabbi Jonathan Eibenschütz, in common with other rabbis of Prague, allowed the Jews to fight in defense of the fortifications of the city of Prague against the attacks of the French Army, he himself standing among them to cheer and encourage them. This is stated in a memorandum of the Austrian Jews, dated 1790, where many rabbinical arguments are given in favor of performing military service on the Sabbath in behalf of their country (Wolf, ib. 1862, pp. 62 et seq.).
Dohm ("Bürgerliche Verbesserung der Juden," ii. 239) relates that in the naval battle between the British and the Dutch, Aug. 15, 1781, a Dutch Jew fought with such heroism that many other Jews were induced to follow his example and join the navy; and the chief rabbi of Amsterdam not only gave them his permission and his blessing, but excused them from the observance of the Sabbath and the dietary laws as far as their military duties would interfere with it. Jewish soldiers in the Dutch navy excelled in courage and zeal in the conquest of Brazil (Kohut, in Simon Wolf's "The American Jew as Patriot, Soldier, and Citizen," p. 443; Graetz, "History of the Jews," iv. 693). Jews, encouraged by their rabbi, Isaac Aboab, defended the fort of Recife, near Pernambuco, against the Portuguese with such remarkable skill and heroism as to evoke the praise and gratitude of the government; for, without their dauntless resistance, the garrison would have been compelled to surrender (Graetz, l.c. pp. 693, 694). When the French fleet, under Admiral Cassard, made a sudden attack on the Jewish colony of Surinam in 1689, it was met with brave resistance; and, despite the fact that it was a Sabbath day, the Jews fought valiantly for their colony (Kohut, l.c. p. 460). Of this bravery they gave proof a second time, in 1712, when Cassard again attacked Surinam, on which occasion one of the Pintos defended the fort single-handed, until, overwhelmed by superior force, he was compelled to surrender (Kohut, l.c. pp. 454-61). Especially did David Nasi distinguish himself by his heroic valor and skilful generalship. He died in 1743 on the battle-field, in his thirty-first campaign against the Maroons (Kohut, l.c. p. 466).Poland.
The Jews of Poland were, like their fellow citizens, enjoined to do military service. In Lithuania and the Ukraine they fought alongside their Christian brethren. In the rebellion of the Cossacks (1648-1653) the Jews fought with the noblemen against the rebels. Among those that fell at Ostrog and Zaslav, under Marshal Firley, there were many hundreds of Jewish soldiers. John III. Sobieski, by a decree of 1679, exempted the Jews from military service; nevertheless, they fought in times of peril for their country. When, in 1794, the population of Warsaw rose in arms, Jews were among them; and a whole Jewish regiment fought under Colonel Berko near Praga against Suwarow (Sternberg, "Gesch. der Juden in Polen," pp. 54, 55; Ph. Bloch, in "Oesterreichische Wochenschrift," 1900, p. 280 (see
There is no record of Jews serving in the mercenary forces employed by the Continental monarchs after the decay of the feudal system and before the introduction of national armies and navies after the French Revolution. But they have always been found among their countrymen when the patriotic spirit has been roused. The record of the Dutch Jews in the colonial forces continues a high one to the present day. In the Alt-Neu-Schule, the ancient synagogue of Prague, hangs a banner said to have been presented by Emperor Ferdinand III. to the Bohemian Jews for their gallant share in the defense of Prague against the Swedes in 1648, notably that of a special company formed to extinguish fires caused by the enemy's artillery.
In Europe, prior to the Napoleonic campaigns, Jews were often in evidence in military affairs as Army contractors. Joseph Cortissos (1656-1742), to whom Marlborough owed much of his success, is perhaps the most prominent of these. The Jews of Holland, of Britain, and, later on, of America, did good service in the armies and navies of the free countries during the eighteenth century. An English officer, Aaron Hart, born in London in 1724, was among the first British settlers in Canada. Isaac Myers, of New York, organized a company of "bateau-men" during the French and Indian war in 1754.American Jews in the Revolutionary War.
American Jews most readily took up arms in the Revolutionary war. Forty-six names are known, twenty-four of them being those of officers, prominent among whom is Col. Isaac Franks. Col. David Salisbury Franks, who was of English birth, was prominent in resistance to the British. At that time there were scarcely 3,000 Jews in all North America. In the War of 1812, 44 Jews took part, from Brig.-Gen. Joseph Bloomfield and 8 other officers, down to Private Judah Touro; in the Mexican war of 1846, 60 Jews served, 12 of them officers, among whom was David de Leon (afterward surgeon-general of the Confederate armies), who twice received the thanks of Congress. Over 100 Jews have served in the small regular Army of the United States (including Major Alfred Mordecai, attaché during the Crimean war, and the author of works on ordnance and explosives; and Col. Alfred Mordecai, Jr., recently chief of the National Armory, Springfield, Mass.). Three naval officers have been particularly distinguished; namely, Commodore Uriah Phillips Levy (died 1862), who secured the abolition of corporal punishment and rose to the highest rank in his day; Capt. Levi MyersHarby (died 1870); and Commander Adolf Marix at a recent date.Jews in the Civil War.
But it was the great Civil war that gave to the Jews of the United States their greatest opportunity of proving their military ardor and capacity. Then patriotism and gallantry shone out most brilliantly. Fourteen families alone contributed 53 men to the ranks; and 7 men have been traced who received from President Lincoln "medals of honor" for conspicuous gallantry. Simon Wolf gives a list of Jews serving on the Union and the Confederate sides, which exhibits 40 staff officers (including a commissioned hospital chaplain, the Rev. Jacob Frankel), 11 naval officers, and a total of 7,878 of other ranks, out of a Jewish population of less than 150,000 souls. Among these were at least 9 generals (Brevet Maj.Gen. Frederick Knefler of Indianapolis being the highest in rank), 18 colonels, 8 lieutenant-colonels, 40 majors, 205 captains, 325 lieutenants, 48 adjutants, etc., and 25 surgeons.Jews in the Spanish-American War.
In the recent war with Spain (1898) American Jews were equally active. It has been asserted that the first volunteer to enroll and the first to fall were alike Jews. It is certain that Jews served in both the navy and the Army to an extent far beyond their due numerical proportion, and that they behaved with zeal and valor. The numbers of officers engaged were as follows: Army 32; navy 27; non-commissioned officers and men—Army 2,451; navy 42. These figures are based upon the preliminary lists given in the "American Jewish Year-Book" for 1900-1.
Before the armies of their native lands were open to them, adventurous Jews not seldom became soldiers of fortune. Such was Perez Lachman (better known as General Loustannan), who held high command in the Mahratta army. Dr. Joseph Wolff, the missionary, when visiting central Asia and northern India in 1829, found a number of Jews of leading military rank in the armies of native princes.Jews Serve Under Napoleon.
But it was especially through the forces of the French republic, consulate, and empire that the Jews became active as soldiers or sailors. It has been alleged, but on nebulous grounds, that the great marshals, Soult and Masséna, were themselves Jews. Be this as it may, there were 797 men serving in 1808 out of 77,000 French Jews; and many a Polish community for the first time beheld a foreign Israelite in the person of some soldier of Napoleon. Two decorated Jewish soldiers, Jean Louis May and Simon Mayer, sat in the Sanhedrin of 1806. A Jewish officer, Lazarus Mayer Marx, was appointed to the marine artillery in 1810. A Jewish regiment under one Berko was among Kosciusko's forces in the Polish revolt. Berko became a colonel in the French Army, and died during the campaign of 1811. Many Jews were also in the national armies assembled against Napoleon. Joshua Montefiore (1752-1843), uncle of the late Sir Moses Montefiore, served in the British Army, and, as an officer of the East Yorkshire Regiment, was present in 1809 at the capture of Martinique and Guadeloupe.Jews Under Wellington.
The duke of Wellington is reported to have said, in 1833, that not less than fifteen Jewish officers had served under him at Waterloo. Among these was Cornet Albert Goldsmid (1794-1861), who afterward rose to the rank of major-general in the British service. He had been preceded in the rank of general by Sir Jacob Adolphus, M.D. (1770), inspector-general of hospitals; Sir Alexander Schomberg, Royal Navy (1716-1804); Lieut.-Gen. Sir David Ximenes (died 1848); and has been followed by Lieut.-Gen. Sir George d'Aguilar, K.C.B., and Maj.-Gen. George Salis-Schwabe, not to mention a singularly large number of gallant gentlemen of less immediate Jewish origin.A Jewess Sergeant-Major.
The names are known of 125 Jewish soldiers of the Prussian Army who served in the campaigns of 1813-15, 20 of them officers, one a drum-major. Sixteen of these received the Iron Cross for valor. Altogether 343 Jews served in the Prussian Army at that time, of whom only 80 were conscripts and no less than 263 volunteers. At the conclusion of the war there were 731 Prussian Jews serving. Among these may be mentioned Lehmann Cohn, a sergeant of the Second Cuirassiers, who earned the Iron Cross at Leipsic, and fought in La Haye Sainte at Waterloo. One of his sons fought as a captain in Italy in the fateful year 1848; and another, still living in London, earned his medal under the walls of Delhi in 1857. Mention must also be made of that remarkable woman, Louise Grafemus (really Esther Manuel), who, in search of her husband who was in the Russian Army, disguised herself and served in the Second Königsberg Uhlans, was wounded twice, and rose to be sergeant-major, and received from Bülow the Iron Cross. She found her husband in 1814 under the walls of Paris, only to see him fall in action the next day, when grief betrayed her sex. She was then thirty years of age, and was sent back to Hanau, her home, with great honor ("Die Juden als Soldaten," p. 4).
Jews served in the Austrian Army from the year 1781. Emmanuel Eppinger became an officer in 1811, and earned decorations from two monarchs. In 1809 Von Hönigsberg was made lieutenant on the battlefield of Aspern, and several sons of Herz Homberg, the Bible commentator, were officers (see Wertheimer, "Jahrbuch," i. 16, ii. 187 and 237). The Dutch Jews behaved particularly well in 1813-15. They had been recognized as brothers-in-arms since 1793.
In considering the naval and military services of European Jews after the Napoleonic campaigns, it must be remembered that Jews have not been treated more indulgently than their Gentile neighbors in the matter of military duty where universal service is the rule, especially where, as in Russia, and particularly Rumania, they are still exposed to civil disabilities. In Russia, indeed, 38 per cent of the Jews liable to serve in the Army are called out, as against 30 per cent of the general population; but this is due to the retention on the books of the names of absentees and possibly of deceased persons also, whenever these happen to be Jews. In this way it is made to appear that an overwhelming proportion of Jews seek to escape their military duties; but the experience of every other country would suffice toexpose the inaccuracy of this proposition. A quarter of a million Jews are on the books of the active and reserve forces of the Russian empire, 75,000 of whom serve on the peace strength.Jews in Modern European Armies and Navies.
Turning to Germany, where service in the Army is equally compulsory on all Jewish as on other German citizens, it is interesting to find that members of 1,101 congregations, to the number of 4,703, have been traced by name who served against France in the campaigns of 1870-71. Of these German Jews 483 were killed and wounded, and no less than 411 were decorated for conspicuous gallantry. Owing to the privilege enjoyed by the officers of German regiments of reserving commands to their own social class, there are no Jewish officers in the active German Army, with the exception of the Bavarian contingent, and none in the navy.
In Austria-Hungary matters are different. As early as 1855 there were 157 Jewish officers, many in the medical corps. In 1893 Austria-Hungary had 40,344 of her Jewish citizens enrolled in all branches of her Army and 325 in her navy. Besides these there were as many as 2,179 Jewish military, and 2 naval, active officers, exclusive of those in the reserve contingents. These numbers were considerably above 8 per cent of the total Jewish population.
In France, again, 10 Jews have reached the rank of general officer. In the beginning of 1895 there were serving also in the active Army 9 colonels, 9 lieutenant-colonels, 46 majors, 90 captains, 89 lieutenants, and 104 sublieutenants of Jewish birth. The Jewish officers of the reserve in 1883 numbered 820. These contingents are largely in excess of the mere proportional representation for which the Jewish population of France would call.High Reputation of Italian Jews.
The Italian Jews, comparatively few in number, have a particularly brilliant military reputation. Two hundred and thirty-five Jews volunteered for the Piedmontese Army in 1848. In the one Tuscan battalion, which bore off the honors at Curtatone and Montanaro, no less than 45 Jews, from Pisa and Leghorn, were serving at the time. In the Crimean war Sardinian as well as French, British, and Russian Jews took part. Fully 260 Jewish volunteers came forward in 1859, and 127 of them followed Garibaldi at Naples in 1860. Among the renowned "Thousand of Marsala," too, there were 11 Jews. In 1866, when there were but 36,000 Jews in all Italy, 380 volunteered for active service. In the Royal Italian Army that marched into Rome in 1870, there were 256 Jews. General Ottolenghi has reached high command, and is decorated with several orders for distinguished service. Other Jewish officers of lower rank in 1894 numbered 204 in the active Army, and 457 in the various reserve forces; that is to say, about seventeen times the proportional quota of Italian Jewry.
Among the smaller states, the Jewish soldiers of Bulgaria, and even those of Rumania, have behaved with singular gallantry. Forty Jewish volunteers received medals from the sultan of Turkey after the recent Greek war.Jews in the British Army and Navy.
There remain only the British Army and navy to be spoken of. Service in these is a superlative test of Jewish patriotism and aptitude for military duty, since such service is absolutely voluntary, and includes the tedium of tropical garrison duty far oftener than the excitement of war. Some families of less immediate Jewish descent, such as the Barrows and Ricardos, contribute many officers of distinction. But reckoning only gentlemen of Jewish birth, there were in Jan., 1902, 12 naval and marine officers, 39 officers of the regular Army (including Col. Albert E. W. Goldsmid, late assistant adjutant-general; Lieut.-Col. J. J. Leverson, C. M. G., the diplomat; and Major F. L. Nathan, superintendent of the Royal Explosives Factory), 17 officers of British militia, and 86 officers of British volunteers. Adding colonial Jewish officers of militia and volunteers, Canada provided 2, Fiji 2, Jamaica 2, Australia 27, New Zealand 8, South Africa 43, and India 1, making a total of 239 Jewish officers in the British forces. The colonial Jews have done particularly good service, Capt. Joshua Norden (1847), of Natal, being the first Jew to fall in South Africa, where Col. David Harris in 1896 concluded a stiff little campaign near Kimberley. Official returns exist of the religion of the non-commissioned officers and rank and file of the British regular Army and militia; but these are notoriously unreliable. The recruits on and after enlistment incline to regard their religious denomination as a private and personal matter, and therefore exhibit a preference for the all-embracing "Church of England," to which three of every four private soldiers elect to belong. Exclusive of officers, there were on Jan. 1, 1899, 82 Jews reported in the ranks of the Army and 46 in the militia; but the progress of the South African campaign led to the identification of many more Jewish sailors and soldiers, of whom over 2,000 have taken part, with distinct credit to their race, in the Transvaal war. There were serving in Jan., 1902, not less than the following numbers of British Jews, every one, it must be repeated, enrolled of his own free will and accord: Royal navy and marines, 120; regular Army, 550; British militia, 180; British yeomanry and volunteers, 800; and colonial militia and volunteers, 500, a goodly proportion of the Jews in the British empire. For there are also Jews in India, the Beni Israel, who for over a century have contributed gallant and faithful soldiers to the Sepoy infantry. In 1869, from that small community there were serving in the Bombay Army 36 native officers and 231 soldiers. With the introduction of "class regiments" formed entirely of men of the chief warlike races of India, the military career of the Beni Israel became restricted, until they entered the hospital corps and armed police of that great Eastern dependency.
Bearing in mind the universal liability to military service in Continental states, and comparing the Jewish with the Gentile population of each country, it may be calculated that there are now serving on the active peace strength of the undermentioned regular armies and navies of Europe the following numbers of Jewish citizens: Russia, 75,000; Austria-Hungary, 11,700; Germany, 6,400; France, 1,400; Italy, 850;Rumania, 750; Great Britain and Ireland, 650; other states, 1,350; making a total of 98,000 European Jews who may be termed for the time being professional soldiers and sailors. But including the Jews who would be called out to bring up to war strength the various auxiliary and reserve forces of European countries, it would be found that their nine millions of Jewish subjects would place under arms some 350,000 soldiers of well-proved military quality. See
- For America: Simon Wolf, The American Jew as Patriot, Soldier, and Citizen, Philadelphia, 1895;
- American Jewish Year-Book, 1900-1, pp. 525-623; and publications of the American Jewish Historical Society.
- For Continental Europe: P. Nathan, Die Juden als Soldaten (pub. by the Gesellschaft zur Abwehr Antisemitischer Angriffe), Berlin, 1896;
- Allgemeine Zeitung des Judenthums, 1888, p. 680, reprint from Pesther Lloyd;
- Mitteilungen aus dem Verein zur Abwehr des Antisemitismus, 1899, p. 222;
- Jewish YearBook, 1901, pp. 195-212; 1902, pp. 205-210; 1903;
- M. Bloch, Les Vertus Militaires des Juifs, in Actes et Conferences, Rev. Et. Juives, xxxiv.;
- J. Loeb, Reflexions sur les Juifs, in Rev. Et. Juives, xxxix. 15-17.
Jews served in the armies of the Chazars and in the Jewish dukedom of Taman as early as the ninth and tenth centuries (Chwolson, "Ibn Dast," p. 17; Mordtmann, "Isztachri," p. 103). Records are extant concerning two Jewish envoys, Saul and Joseph, who served the Slavonian czar about 960 (A. Harkavy, "Juden und Slavische Sprachen," pp. 143-153); concerning Anbal the Jassin, who, in 1175, served under Prince Bogolyubski of Kiev ("Polnoe Sobranie Russkikh Lyeṭopisei," ii. and v.); and concerning Zachariah Guil-Gursis (probably Guizolfi), prince of Taman, who in 1487 offered Czar Ivan Vasilyevich of Moscow "to come to him and to serve him with his whole household, or first alone, with only a few of his men," which offer was accepted by the czar in a letter, dated March 18, 1488; but for certain reasons he did not go to Russia ("Sbornik Imperatorskavo Russk. Istor. Obshchestva," xxxv. 41, 42, 43). In the responsa of Rabbi Meïr of Lublin (Venice, 1638), p. 103b, mention is made of Berachah, "the Hero", who was killed in the Polish war against Russia, near Moscow, in 1610. From a document discovered in 1900 at the Archives of the St. Petersburg Archeological Institute it is evident that among the "Children of Boyars" who enlisted in the Russian military service in 1680 two were Lithuanian Jews, Samoilo Abramov Vistizki and his son Juri (Goldstein, in "Voskhod," 1900, No. 30). The warlike Jews of the Caucasus also deserve mention.
When the old kingdom of Poland came under Russian rule, Jews were not admitted into actual service in the Russian Army, but instead had to pay a special military tax.
By an edict of Emperor Nicholas I., issued Aug. 26, 1827, the Jews were ordered to perform actual military service on the basis of a special and very severe statute. According to the regulations of this statute, the authorities were permitted to take recruits from Jews at the ages of 12 to 25 (see Cantonists), and "supernumerary" recruits (bezzachotnye) even up to the age of 35. The practical application of these regulations gave rise to direful abuses and corruption. The Jews were subjected to heavier duties in performing military service than the rest of the population, being compelled to furnish 10 recruits per 1,000 inhabitants every year, while non-Jews were to furnish 7 per 1,000 every alternate year (Mysh, "Rukovodstvo k. Ruskkim Zakonam o Yevreyakh," p. 411). For arrears in taxes Jews had to furnish one additional recruit for every 2,000 rubles. The Karaites, who applied to the czar in 1828, were exempt from military service ("Voskhod," 1896, vii. 2).
In 1853 temporary regulations were issued, permitting Jewish communities and private individuals to present substitutes from among those of their coreligionists that had been detected without passports. Great atrocities and corruption resulted from these regulations, which were abolished by the emperor-reformer, Alexander II., who, on Sept. 10, 1856 (Complete Russian Code, 2d ed., V. xxxi., No. 30,888), ordered that henceforth recruits from Jews should be taken on the general basis; thus prohibiting the recruitment of minors and of "supernumeraries" (See Poimanniki).
The following table, derived from official sources, will show the number of recruits enlisted, and also that of the alleged arrears:
In the law of Jan. 13, 1874, enacting universal military service, no special regulations concerning the Jews are mentioned. Various exceptional rules as to their duties in the military service were formulated later, and are contained in the laws of Feb. 15, 1876; Jan. 9, 1877; May 9, 1878; April 12, 1886, etc. By the law of May 9, 1878, the Jews who had enjoyed the privilege of the first grade—that is, in being exempt from service on account of certain family conditions—were deprived of their privileges in case of deficiency of Jewish recruits in the other grades. By the law of 1886 the family of a Jew who evaded military service was fined 300 rubles. For the detection of such a refractory conscript a premium of 50 rubles was offered. Since the enactment of 1874 great prejudice was manifested by Russian Gentiles against the Jews as soldiers, especially as regards the arrears in Jewish recruits; but official reports show that from 1876 to 1897, 240,345 Jews were taken into the Russian Army, and the number of uncomplying conscripts did not exceed36,993 for the twenty-one years. It has been proven, however, that a larger proportion of Jewish recruits were enlisted, compared with the general population, the apparent discrepancy being accounted for by the irregular registration of deaths in the death registers, and also by the large emigration of Jews from Russia.
In addition to the statistics furnished in the foregoing table, Jewish recruits to the number of 8 were enlisted in 1874 and 1875. The fact must be taken into account that service in the Russian Army entails more hardships upon the Jews than upon non-Jews, for the following reasons: (a) In military service the Jews are often prevented from observing the laws of their religion, as, for instance, concerning kosher food; (b) the relation between Jewish and Christian soldiers is not very pleasant, and the treatment of the Jews in the Army is most unsatisfactory; (c) the military service does not give any privileges to the Jewish soldier, who is compelled to leave the place of service for the pale of Jewish settlement immediately after the completion of his term of service. "Under such circumstances," says Mysh, "one should be surprised rather at the comparatively small number of arrears among the Jewish recruits."
Russian military authorities—among them General Yermolov in his "Diary," published in the "Artilleriski Zhurnal" of 1794; General Lebedev in "Russki Invalid," 1858 (No. 39); and Major-General Kuropatkin in "Voyenny Sbornik" (Military Collection), 1883, clii. 7, 8, 50—have often testified to the real patriotism and bravery of the Russian Jewish soldier. The daring deeds of Goldstein in the war for the liberation of the Slavonians (in 1876), of Gertzov, near Erzerum (in 1878), and of Leib Faigenbaum in the Russo-Turkish war, near Plevna (in 1878), will be long remembered. L. Orshanski was in the emperor's guard for 54 years, and was buried with military honors in St. Petersburg in 1899 ("Jew. Chron." March 17, 1899).
- M. J. Mysh, Rukovodstvo k. Russkim Zakonam o Yevreyakh, 2d ed., St. Petersburg, 1898;
- M. Brauda, in Ḳohelet (collection of articles in Hebrew), published by Zederbaum and Goldenblum, St. Petersburg, 1881;
- J. M. Grushevski, Yuridicheskaya Praktika, etc. in Voskhod, 1899, iii. 30-46;
- Sbornik Imperatorskavo Russkavo Istoricheskavo Obshchestva, xli. 74;
- Ibn Dastah, Account of the Chazars, Burtass. etc., Russian translation by D. Chwolson, p. 17, St. Petersburg, 1869;
- Isztachri, Das Buch der Länder, translated by Von Mordtmann, 1875, 103-105;
- Epizod iz Otechestvennoi Voiny 1812, in Den, 1870, No. 40;
- V. I. Nemirovich-Danchenko, Voinstvuyushchi lzrail, St. Petersburg, 1880, No. 8, 49-50;
- O. M. Lerner, Zapiski Grazhdanina, Odessa, 1877;
- Novoye Vremya, 1876, p. 190;
- S. Kronhold, in Russki Yevrei, 1879, No. 7, p. 11;
- St. Petersburgskiya Vyedomosti, 1879, 287;
- Allg. Zeit. des Jud. 1877, No. 37; 1878, No. 4, 42;
- H. M. Rabinowich, Statisticheskie Etyudy, St. Petersburg, 1886.