As Confederate States Secretary of War, Judah P. Benjamin requests Printups assistance in mustering companies to populate the 55th regiment of the Confederate army. Printup was the son of wealthy planter who owned land near Rome, Georgia.
Judah P. Benjamin (1811-1884), US senator, Confederate statesman, and sugar planter, was born in the British-occupied Danish West Indies (modern-day Virgin Islands). The Benjamin family immigrated to the United States shortly after Benjamins birth and resided in North and South Carolina. Benjamins father was a founding member of Charleston, South Carolinas Reformed Society of Israelites, the first effort to reform Judaism in the United States. Judah Benjamin moved to New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1832, where he entered private practice as a commercial lawyer and established a sugar plantation. After serving in the Louisiana state legislature for ten years, Benjamin was elected to the US senate, becoming the second Jewish senator in US history. After Louisiana seceded from the Union in 1881, Benjamin was elected Attorney General of the Confederacy. Soon afterwards he assumed the positions of Secretary of War (September 1861-March 1862) and Secretary of State (March 1862-May 1865). Benjamin relocated to England after the war, and later moved to France, where he died in 1884.
The addressee, D. S. Printup, Esq. (Daniel S.) was, in fact, a prominent citizen of Rome, Georgia, and the only surviving son of a wealthy and esteemed gentleman-planter in the area, Mr. Joseph Printup. The elder Printup died under mysterious circumstances. An accusation of murder leveled at a Negro preacher and his relatives by poor white folks was vacated for lack of evidence. His property was to have been willed to Daniel but war intervened and the property may have gone to the slaves who worked the property. Judah P. Benjamins letter of March 7, 1862, as Secretary of War, directs D. S. Printup, Esq. to refer to a foregoing circular of this Department, in conformity with which you are authorized to enlist volunteers and to muster them into service singly and by companies for three years or the war, to be organized, as soon as a sufficient number of companies are mustered into a Regiment of Infantry, electing Field Officers, Respectfully (signed) J P Benjamin, Secretary of War. Printup and his co-Confederates mustered twelve companies of men, perhaps several thousand, to populate the 55th regiment in response to Secretary Benjamins call to arms. The following is a summary of the fate of the 55th regiment Georgia volunteers that was organized according to Benjamins order with the following field officers: Col. C. B. Harkie, Lieut.-Col. A. W. Persons, Maj. D. S. Printup, and Adjt. R. C. Saxon. The Fifty-fifth was sent to east Tennessee, in the spring of 1862, and in Heth's division marched into Kentucky. Returning to east Tennessee, it served in that department until surrendered with the rest of the garrison of Cumberland Gap in the summer of 1863. After exchange it was placed on detached service, guarding prisoners at Andersonville, Ga., and Salisbury, NC. In March, 1865, the detachments of the regiment were ordered to report to General Johnston in North Carolina, but the war ended before the order could be obeyed. The regiment had the following officers besides those already named: Cols. A. W. Persons and Lieut.-Col. D. S. Printup, Maj. M. P. Tucker, and Capt. J. J. Roberson succeeded Capt. H. W. Baker. Many of the others whom Printup recruited were killed or died, imprisoned in Ohio after capture. --Information from Joseph W. Rubin, researcher