Emilio Ernesto Cavaleri
b. Milan, Italy, October 23, 1823
d. Atlanta, Georgia, May 10, 1906
A SHORT BIOGRAPHY (written by E. E. (Jack) Cavaleri, III)
By the age of 23, Emilio Cavaleri had joined the greatest guerrilla fighters of all time, Giuseppe Garibaldi. Under a death sentence for his participation in an uprising in Piedmont in 1834, Garibaldi had escaped to South America. Wearing his colorful gaucho costume, he returned in April of 1848 to fight in Italy’s war of independence against the Roman Catholic Church. The handsome warrior and his band fought Austrians in Milan and the French forces supporting Rome and the Papal States. Overpowered at Rome, Garibaldi and his men had to retreat through central Italy in 1849. Disbanding his men, he again escaped abroad, not to return until 1859.
Emilio Cavaleri was excommunicated from the Catholic Church and told that if he ever returned to the country he would be shot.
“The evening of June I2, 1849 can not be forgotten. At that time I was living in exile on a Switzerland mountain which looked out on Lake Como of Italy and where I was welcomed by everybody living near the lake. Consequently, even that I would be shot by the Austrians if, I was caught, I would discend the mountain for visiting friends” - Cavaleri
From there, he went to the United States, living in New York City for a period. Then he joined the Union Army. Notes taken from his Memoirs (below) cover this time in his life.
Eventually, Mr. Cavaleri traveled around the country living in Jacksonville, Fla. and St. Louis, Missouri, where he married a lady named Maria Donnelly. Not much is known of her except that they had one child, Emilio E. Cavaleri. The Senior Cavaleri apparently raised him without benefit of his wife. As the son reached adulthood he Worked for YMCA in Atlanta, Georgia while he studied for the ministry. He then became a Methodist preacher hence his name, Reverend Emilio E. Cavaleri. He married Maggie Fairbanks of Franklin, Tennessee. Eventually they brought 13 children into the world including my father, E. E. (Dick) Cavaleri, Jr. The old man died at this son’s house at #44 Alabama Street, East Point, Atlanta, Georgia on May 10, 1906.
His son, Reverend E. E. Cavaleri, eventually became the minister at Simpson Methodist Church in Birmingham, Alabama where my father, E. E. Jr., met and married my mother, Dorothy Steward.
Raised in Birmingham, I am the last in the line with the name Emilio. I married Ann Wainwright. We have two daughters. As the last of the clan to be named Emilio Ernesto Cavaleri, I thought it would be a tribute to the Original Cavaleri to place his words on paper for all of the world to see.
As my father used to say, "having been involved in the Nationalism struggle in Italy and the Civil War in the U. S., this fellow proved to the world that a Cavaleri would go halfway around the world to get in a fight.”
SOME NOTES FROM HIS MEMOIRS
source - his grandson, E. E. (Jack) Cavaleri, III
Before the War commenced, I was keeping a looking glass and picture frame store between 1513“ and 16th Street, New York I had leased the store for five years for the second time. About one or two years after, Mr. Abraham Lincoln came to New York and attended for about half hour at the Academy Italian Opera where I saw him for the time and never quited to look at him until he left. Really, I don’t know if I am a mind reader or not. Before coming to America, I was well posted in the politics and diplomacy of Italy, France and Switzerland, but coming to America, I quited politics and attended to my business. Still, by having looked so closely for half hour to Mr. Abraham Lincoln, I formed the following views. At that time, a tine Italian portrait painter living in Avenue A, near 17th Street, was compelled to Work for the fotografer, Frederic in Broadway, for a living, which was degenerate for an artist to paint fotographs.
Most every day, he would come to see me at my store, and frequently say, “You are a lucky man; you have no master. But I, I have to paint fotografs for Frederic for a living like a workman.” It was near the president election, when I said to the painter, you know that I am not a rich man, but I am willing to pay you a fair price for a picture.” He said, “What kind do you want?”
“I want Mr. Lincoln painted as President of the United States.”
“Cavaleri, you have been a good politician in the old country, but this country is too large for you. Mr. Lincoln will not be the next President, but Mr. Douglas will be the President”.
“Well, never mind about that Corradi, you paint Mr. Lincoln as President of America, and after some time that he is President, he will proclaim the Negro free.”
“For mercy sake, don’t you know if any one was to hear you say that you would be shot like a dog?”
He went out and never did return any more. A week or so later I went to see Angeloni, an old Italian painter, at his home between 7th and 8th Avenue on 17th Street. I want a picture painted”, I said after a greeting. “Well, what kind of picture do you want, he said.
“I want Mr. Lincoln painted as President ofthe United States.”
“Cavaleri, Mr. Lincoln will not be the next President, but Mr. Douglas will be and the picture will not be anything.”
“Angeloni, you paint Mr. Lincoln as President and after some time he will proclaim the slaves free”.
“What a nonsense. Mr. Lincoln will not be elected and if he is elected, and only insinuate that he would free the slaves, the American people would run him out of the White House and find someone else to take his place. Don’t you know that Americans are like Kings?"
“Angeloni, do you see the confectionary store opposite? Well, when Mr. Lincoln is ready to proclaim the Negro he will go there, buy a bag of stick candy and show them to the American people and make them jump and dance like babies.”
“Cavaleri, here, no one can hear you, but be careful that if some one was to hear you, you would be killed as sure as you live.”
I never mentioned such a matter any more. Lincoln was elected and the war broke out. I sold my goods at auction and got $2,930 of over thousand goods. I thought the business, which was already not good would be worse, but I made a big mistake.
From New York, I Went to Buffalo and some time after to Cincinnati. One evening I Went to a concert saloon in Walnut Street between 5th and 6th. Soon two young men came and took a seat at the same table and called for beer and cigars, as men who had money, which at that time money was scarce, so much that a lot of lager beer saloons selled 3 glass of beer for 5 cents. “Please pass that box of matches,” said one of the young men, and continuing said, “What country man are “I am born Italian.” “You he said in Italian. “Are you not a stranger in this city?” I said, “Yes I am.” He said, “What are you doing? I said, “Nothing to be found.” He said, “I am a lieutenant of the 20th Ohio Volunteer and we leave Cincinnati with the steamer Glandele tomorrow morning. And you can join us if you like military life.” I Said, “Very Well Sir, I certainly will come.”
The next momìng I was aboard the Glandele with about 1,200 men, and soon after the same lieutenant said to me, “I have a young man friend, very sick with bad dysentery. Are you Willing to stay with him I said, “Yes.” He took me to a cabin on the upper deck. Here, I have to mention that, when I was sixteen years old, I practiced medicine with a first class doctor for about seventeen months. The sick man was years and six feet tall and had been brought on the Glandele a few days previous. Himself and brown blanket were full of dirth his bowels which was moving most frequently and had reduced him to the death door. I looked at the young man for a while, then said, “Lieutenant, I will care this young man if you will grant me what I want.” He said, “What is it? Money?” I said, “No, but hot and cold water, and a clean blanket and do not allow any body to come in here.” He said, “All right, you will have all you want and I will put a guard to keep every body out except the doctor.” And he did. It took me over time days to have him perfectly clean, and by having give fresh beef tea, the dysentery stopped and in a few days after, he was able to get up. Before that, We reached Pitsburg landing. One Sunday morning, after the chaplain prayer meeting, the young man thanked the doctor for what he had done for him. “Thank the good France nurse who attended you. Myself had no time to attend to you want than prescribe some medicine, but the good France nurse cured you.” And afterward, every sick man wanted the France nurse.
I don’t remember when we reached Pitsburg landing. What I Recollect is that the battle of Shiloh started Sunday night, April 6, 1862. I was nursing a cavalry corporal which his regiment was near the 20th Ohio and I left him and joined the Ohio Regiment, which was compelled to retreat with the rest of the Federal Army until we reached to Tennessee River where some attempted to swim for the other side and what was their result I don’t know. When We were reinforced the Confederates commenced to fall back and we followed them. It was early of the Monday morning that I got wounded in my head by a piece of a shell. When I recovered my senses, I was laying in a house across the river, used as a hospital, as many more were used for the same purpose. In a few days I was able to help nursing which was needed so much. One morning a surgeon asked to what regiment I belong and I said, “The 20th Ohio.” Two or three days later, the surgeon said, “I looked twice at the 20th Ohio roster and your name can not be found, but, we need more nurses at present and you get payed as a sergeant. General Grant's headquarters was near the house where I was and one morning soon the battle, and when a nurse was fixing my wound in the street, General Grant happened to pass and asked if I was badly hurt and the nurse said, “No general, and he is a fine nurse.”
When they moved all of the patients to St. Louis, Louisville and Cincinnati, I was payed off. I didn't know Where the 20th Ohio had gone and I went to headquarters for a pass for Cincinnati. General Grant was standing at the entrance and asked what I wanted. I said a pass for Cincinnati and he wrote the pass himself. When a Major came by and asked where I was going and I told him, he said, "No you won’t, you are too good a nurse. Are you not willing to remain with the army and nurse the sick, we will pay you.” I said, “Yes, Major, I am willing to nurse the sick for nothing.” The Major said, “That is the kind of man we like and you will be treated as you merit to be treated” I went with the army and was treated very good. I received the best of everything to be found and money too.
We went to Corinth, and after to Columbus, Kentucky and to Memphis, Tennessee. There, I happened to meet with a few Italian citizens which asked me from where I came and what was my business. I told them that I was from New York, where I used to keep a looking glass and picture frame store. We were standing at the corner of Jefferson and Main Street and when an officer, a few minutes after, was passing by, one of the Italians that used to keep a china and window glass store, one of the richest men of Memphis, said to the officer, “Colonel, this man, he is from New York, and used to keep a looking glass and picture frame, and I believe that he can put window glasses.” “Thank you sir.” said the Colonel and then to me, “Will you come to my office with I said, “Certainly Colonel, with pleasure.” He said he wanted a man to put glass in the house of Federal officers and I went to work for him. He said he was the provost marshal. I also worked for any one that wanted window glasses put in and I made a great deal of money. In March the boarding house in Union Street between 2nd and 3rd took fire and I lost every thing except a few hundred dollars that I had always in my pocket. I made a few hundred dollars afterwards and when Grant rook Vicksburg, Miss I obtained a pass from the travel marshal to go there.
I can’t recollect if it was the first Sunday or the second when I reached Vicksburg on the Steamer Saviatan, at sunrise, when an officer came aboard and asked of the Captain to what man belonged the eighteen boxes of window glass. The Captain pointed myself out. “What are you going to do with window glass, sir‘?”, the officer said. I said, “Put them in windows. Do you want some‘?” He said, “No, I don’t need any, but do you cut glasses in any shape you want?” I told him that I could do that.. He said, “I am the Superintendent of the Railroad and I want you by seven o’clock tomorrow morning at the depot and my office is in a passenger car standing at the outside. Don’t disappoint me for I will get the Provost Marshal guard to bring you there, and by the way, do not forget to bring your glass cutter.” By seven, I was at the Superintendent's and he came out and said, “Now let’s walk to the railroad machine shop.” It was three quarters of a mile distant. In going, he told me about fifty or more times, that he had engaged three painters to out a round glass for the engine headlight, and that they broke two boxes of glass without ever cutting one, and that he had another box and to out one and take the balance of the glass for myself. When we reached the shop, we went in a small room where the glass and headlight patterns were. The engine was standing on the round table near the machine shop front door and he started to tell me again what he had told me on the road. When from the hall door Major General McPherson said, “Superintendent, General Grant wants to see you, and they went in the office for about twenty minutes. Then, Grant, McPherson, the Superintendent and Surgeon Bushe came where I was, and the Superintendent said, “You see General, the engine it is ready to up as soon that this man cuts the headlight glass.” “Well, the glass is already in.”, said I. “Hurrah! This is the man that I need.” said the superintendent. Grant said, “You have found a good man.” Do you know him, General? “Are you not the man that was shot in the head at the battle of Shiloh said Grant. “You look dry.” said Surgeon Bushe. “Sure, every thing closed up and I have to run down to the river”, said I.
“What time did you arrive here?”, said the Surgeon. “Yesterday”, I said. He said, Oh, you are not yet posted; don’t go back with the superintendent, but walk up back of this machine shop and the first house on the right is my residence, and come see me.” I said very well to the surgeon. Then General McPherson said, “Well, the next house on the same side is my office so when you leave the Surgeon, come see me.”
“Very well General.” Before leaving the machine shop, I cut about two dozen square glasses for the car windows. The superintendent told me to have a large room in the depot for he would need me frequently. He said that he would notify the Quarter Master to send a complete cot for me to sleep on, and chairs, table and other things I would find at the depot. Surgeon Bushe was home when I went there, and taking a bottle and glasses from a closet set in the wall, gave a good size drink of very fine whisky and half a dozen of Havana cigars, called an orderly and said, “Anytime this man call, let him help himself.” and to me said, "Now you not run down to the river anymore.” “No Surgeon”, I said, “I will not for sure.”
I was compelled to pass by McPherson headquarters and as soon as he saw me, he called me in to his office. With him was a gentleman which I had never seen before or afterward. McPherson said, “Have you seen the Surgeon?”
“Did he prescribe for you‘?”
“Yes, General. He is a fine surgeon.”
“He is? Well I am kind of a doctor myself; wait awhile" said the General. A few minutes after, an orderly came in with a champagne bottle and two glasses, one for McPherson, the other for the gentleman, and McPherson taking from his desk the high water glass, which he filled that more than full and said, “See what kind of a doctor I am?"
“Why General, you are sure the best, and a very sick man like myself, wasn’t always the best doctor only that I am afraid you will kick myself out for calling frequently.”
“Why no” said the general, “If I was to kick out a patient, I would lose all of my patients.”
"Well, General, give the prescription to me and I will not disturb you so much.”
He wrote the prescription and had it dictated to his adjutant who wrote it out. The Superintendent in returning to his office met the Quartermaster and told him he had found myself and that General Grant knows me and that he wanted a complete cot for myself sent to Depot and when I went to the Quartermaster office with the permit to buy for my private use, the Quartermaster sent with the cot, a barrel of whisky, a box of French Claret, and a basket of champagne, free of charge. Several officers did soon find out that I had some whisky and some of them offered ten or twenty dollars for a bottle of whisky. I would give them a small bottle of whisky, but refused to take any money.
One day I met with McPherson and he asked me how I was getting along and I said, “Very well.” Then an officer came along and said, “GeneraI, the rebel tried to sink a steamer, last night again. I have sent a man to find out how many rebels and cannons there are, but he has not returned yet. He is a good man, but sometimes he drinks too much.”
By this time We had reached McPherson’s headquarters and I went in with him and I said, “General, let me have a pass and I will go and find out what you want.” He said, “You would not succeed. It takes - uh, it takes a man that understands talking better then you do”.
At the same time Grant came in and having heard what McPherson said; asked what was the matter and when he heard what was said, he said, “Well, if he wants to go, let him go.”
“All right, I will give him an order for the Provost Marshall give him a pass through the fortifications and return.”
Grant said, “Never mind, General, I am going home and at the same time, I will take the man to the Provost Marshall office and talk him into letting the man have passes anytime he calls for and get the passes.” And I had one yet which I preserved for when I left Vicksburg and I used the last one when I did.
When we reached the Provost Marshaìl offîce, Grant said to let me have passes at anytime I wanted and left. The Provost Marshall made out a pass good for ten days and after, made out two more passes and told me to keep them until I wanted some more.
That same day, I crossed the river with a skiff and at night I stopped at a small farm house where I slept on the kitchen floor. Two days after, at sundown, I reached near the Rebels camp where I met with an arbitor sergeant that asked me from where I came. I told him I came from Memphis, Tennessee.
“From Memphis, Tennessee? What were you doing there.”
“I'm Working for Joseph Botta”
“Do you know anybody else in Memphís‘?”
“Oh yes. Almost every one of the Italians.”
“Are you Italian?”
“Where are you going now?"
“To New Orleans and from there to Italy, for my Mother is very sick”
“Have you means enough for going to Italy?"
“No, Sergeant, but Botta has wrote to Bacicaluppi in New Orleans to furnish myself with means to reach Milan”
:Well, you cannot reach any place to rest this night, and you can sleep at our camp; for you would get lost in the swamps.”
“Thanks so very much, Sergeant”
I did not sleep a wink that night. And at daylight, I got a hot bowl of coffee, cheese and crackers, and departed after having found out that the camp consisted of sixty fine soldiers with five pieces of six pound cannon; and even that it was a clear day, I got in the swamp, and I did not succeed to reach the bank of the river than about 4 o’clock P. M., and my good luck was to see on old Negro in a skiff in the river, which I called; and crossed the river, and with a paddler flat boat I reached Natchez next day, and with a steamer I went to New Orleans, for it was the only place to get a steamer to New Orleans for it was not allowed for anyone to go to Vicksburg without a permit from a Provost Marshall. In New Orleans I had a good time all night, and the next day I purchased twenty boxes of lemons and twenty-five of oranges to be shipped to Vicksburg to myself, which I didn't know that nobody was allowed to go without the Provost Marshall's permit, until I went aboard to engage a cabin, and pay for the passage, when I was told to get the permit from the Provost Marshall. The boat was going to leave the next day, noon, and about eleven o’clock on that day I went into the Provost Marshall’s private office.
“What do you want?"
“Marshall, I want a permit to Vicksburg.”
“Nobody is allowed to go there. Get out of here or kick you out.”
I went, and soon after I related to General Bank what I had done, and that I wanted to return to Vicksburg, and that the Provost Marshall had ordered me out of his office. Then the general said to come with him to the Provost Marshall office which was very close, and as soon as we entered the office the Marshall said, “Good morning, General.” Then he saw me and said, “You get!” General Bank said, “Never mind Marshall, I know that you don’t want to kick out a McPherson man.”
“Do you know him, General?”
“No, I don’t, only that he is a McPherson man.”
When the Provost heard what I had done, he said “Lets all go to the other side of the street.” There we drinked a couple of times, and at the same time the Marshall said to me, “When you reach Vicksburg tell McPherson, which he is a personal friend, that I wanted to kick you out. Ha Ha.”
In returning to Vicksburg we passed two gunboats that cleared out the rebel camp. I never did find out who reported where the rebel camp was situated, but Grant had received the report and sent the two gunboats. When I crossed the Mississippi River the first thing was to hide the passes, and McPherson’s permission of buying anything from the Quartermaster for my private use, and when I reached McPherson’s office the
thing he asked me was how was his prescription working.
“Very fine, General. Only I had to hide the same in the woods across the river.”
"Well, I will get my Adjutant to write another."
Some days after I went to the Provost Marshall and I obtained more passes, which I don't need, and I have one left. Not very long time after, while walking on Washington Street, I heard McPherson call me. It was at the store of the Adams Express Company he said, "Cavaleri, I am going to leave Vicksburg, and I don't know if I will see you anymore. You come to my office tomorrow morning, and I will give you a letter of what I know of what you have done."
"Thank you, General, I am going to leave Vicksburg myself."
"Why, Cavaleri? Joseph Botto wants you to be his partner in business, and you can make a fortune with him."
"I don't care for a fortune, and as soon that the federal troops leave Vicksburg, I will be among rebels, and it will not be pleasant for me."
"Well, what are your intentions?"
"My desire it is to be in the United States Navy."
"Very well, General, I will sure be in Baltimore by the time you said. Goodbye."