Monday, March 31, 2014

John Fouenty

The New York Times
March 12, 1864
A Chinaman from Rebeldom.
A young man named John Fouenty, a native of Hong Kong, China recently arrived in this City, having made his escape from Savannah, Ga., where he was conscripted. John speaks but little English. His story, which is undoubtedly true, is somewhat interesting. He says his people are quite “well to do in China, but owing to some arrangement which he could never exactly understand, he found himself at seven years of age shipped as a coolie on board a vessel bound for Cuba. His term of “apprenticeship” being out at the expiration of four years, he was furnished with money to pay his passage home. He made an arrangement with the captain of a bark which was, as he was informed, to sail direct for China. He paid $30 for his passage, and in four or five days afterward was surprised to find himself in St. Augustine, Florida. The captain explained the matter by saying his passenger shipped under a mistake, and that his vessel was going no further. This was in 1862. Some kind gentlemen, residents of St. Augustine, hearing John’s story, took him in charge and sent him to school for a year, when he moved to Savannah. There he learned the cigar-maker’s trade. At the breaking out of the rebellion, he was induced to join the rebel army, in which he served for a year. He was then mustered out, being under age. The last rebel Conscription Act brought John under the rule, and he was accordingly notified. Determined not to fight any more under the rebel flag, he seized the first favorable opportunity to make his escape to St. Augustine. The Provost-Marshal of that place kindly furnished him with transportation to New-York. John is now trying to get passage to China, hoping to see his people once more, His news is not of a very late date. He says that before he left Savannah Jeff Davis came there and addressed the people. He was asked the question. "When will the war be over?" Jeff, replied, “Don’t, for Heaven’s sake, ask me such a question. Not until the Yankees give up.” In the latter part of January, there were but three regiments in the city and the fortifications surrounding it. There are but two forts on the river, but the channel has been obstructed in several places, the obstructions extending seven or eight miles below the city. When he left Savannah, flour was $120 per bbl.; beef, $100 do.; boots, $150 a pair; Havana cigars, $2 a piece; board at hotels, $15 per day; mixed drinks, $3 each.

North & South, April 1999, page 38

Although Fouenty is not mentioned in the National Park Service book, Asians and Pacific Islanders and the Civil War, the book has profiles of many men of Asian descent who served.

(Next post: John Earl)

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