Skip to comments.The Myth of Black Confederates Persists (pls consider source)
Posted on 05/02/2011 5:37:11 AM PDT by flowerplough
"This is a fiction," Fergus M. Bordewich, renowned historian and author of five nonfiction books, told The Root about the latest rancorous debate about black Confederates that comes as the nation's commemoration of the Civil War's 150th anniversary continues.
"It's a myth," continued Bordewich, author of Washington: The Making of the American Capital and Bound for Canaan: The Underground Railroad and the War for the Soul of America. "It is nonsense. I could be blunter than that, but you get the drift. It's a meaningless term, 'black Confederates.' There is no evidence whatsoever from any responsible source that there was more than the occasional slave who was forced to serve in the war."
Bordewich is not alone in his position. Top-ranking scholars have repeatedly torpedoed the myth, including Bruce Levine, the renowned professor of African-American studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Edwin Bearss, historian emeritus at the National Park Service; and Henry Louis "Skip" Gates, editor-in-chief of The Root and chair of Harvard's W.E.B. Du Bois Institute. Yet it persists.
Gates weighed in on the issue in a quote that appeared in a column by Ta-Nehisi Coates, a senior editor and blogger at Atlantic Magazine, several weeks ago. " 'I would worry if anything I wrote lent credence to the notion that tens of thousands of black men served as soldiers in the Confederate Army,' " Gates said of the bloody four-year battle, fought from 1861 to 1865. "No black rebel units ever fought Union forces, although many slaves fought alongside their owners, and thousands more were compelled to labor for the Confederacy, rebuilding rail lines or construction fortifications."
(Excerpt) Read more at theroot.com ...
Of course there were black confederates! Even as a Northerner I’m perfectly fine to admit that! New Orleans had a number of them alone.
But yes, the typical loud-mouth lefty black professors are the obvious go-to nutters to try to declare it fake.
I await their well-researched book on the subject. *crickets*
True enough. And there is an ancient history of slave soldiers, particularly in the Islamic world.
But a slave, by definition, is no more a volunteer than a horse is.
This is, of course, why slavery is very nearly the ultimate evil of which humans are capable.
Back in the 90’s, the Charlotte newspaper did an article on the Taylorsville branch of the Sons Of the Confederacy.
To be a member of the Sons of the confederacy, one must have an ancestor who fought for the South.
The president of the Taylorsville chapter was a black man who had a ancestor—great grandfather—who served in the Civil War.
When the Newspaper asked him why he joined this organization, he replied that the organization was not some racist collection of men but were an historic organization that not only discussed battles but more importantly made sure Confederate cemeteries were maintained.
I met several black men in South Carolina who had ancestors in the Confederate army and were quite proud of this fact.
There were several hundred thousand white Southern Union soldiers but they get nowhere the attention as the dubious speculation over the existence of a handful of black Confederate soldiers. The Lost Cause myth of a united Solid South is as persistent as it is misleading.
I’ll bet there were no black slave owners either, eh “Professor Gates?”
Hell, the first LEGALLY RECOGNIZED slave owner in America (known at the time as the British Colonies) was a black man.
The way to create a “myth” is to set up a strawman, attribute it to your opponent, and then knock it down. Gates gives the game away when he says: “No black rebel units ever fought Union forces, although many slaves fought alongside their owners...” Perhaps someone has claimed that there were black companies, brigades, etc., BUT I have never seen such a claim. What I have seen are claims that blacks fought on the Confederate side. So even Gates is admitting that many slaves fought alongside their owners against the invading Yankees. Moreover, I suspect that it is likely many men considered “black” today, but who were of mixed race, fought in the ranks.
The only myth in the story is the suggestion that slavery was the only or main “cause” for the support of the war.
Please note that the same group of leftists also have to explain away the “slave narratives” that were compiled during the 1930’s.
No one should mourn the end of slavery, but slavery and the War Between the States are far more complicated and interesting than the typical Northern “triumphalist narrative” that passes for history in the minds of most.
The myths persist. Northerners claim to have been against slavery yet if you go into old cemeteries up there you’ll see the graves of slaves and their owners. Right in Harvard Square, a few blocks from Skippy Gates’ house, there are a number of slaves buried in that cemetery.
It is true that most of the black soldiers in the Confederacy were slaves who were fighting with their masters. However, there were many free blacks living in the South at the start of the Civil war, some of whom voluntarily enlisted in the Confederate armed forces. To deny that this well-documented, albeit minor, fact occured is historical revisionism and political correctness run amok.
See for example, Ervin L. Jordan, "Afro-Yankees and Black Confederates in Civil War Virginia," or the recent "Black Southerners in Gray" by Arthur Bergeron. These are not KKK tracts, but accepted, peer-reviewed scholarly books and articles.
Our family history shows that even a few indians, as well as blacks, did indeed fight in the Confederate army.
The pervading sense of the diaries (mostly of a Creek indian commander of an indian cavalry unit) is that the south was being invaded, and that everyone was needed to defend their farms and cities from the northern invaders.
Series I, Volume IV
Colonel John W. Phelps (1st Vermont Infantry)
Theythe enemytalked of having 9,000 men. They had twenty pieces of artillery, among which was the Richmond Howitzer Battery, manned by negroes.
Series I, Volume XIV
Colonel Benjamin C. Christ (50th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers)
There were six companies of mounted riflemen, besides infantry, among which were a considerable number of colored men.”
Series I, Volume XVI
Lieutenant Colonel John G. Parkhurst (9th Michigan Infantry)
There were also quite a number of negroes attached to the Texas and Georgia troops, who were armed and equipped, and took part in the several engagements with my forces during the day.
Series III, Volume II
Richard Yates, Governor of Illinois
Excerpt from a Letter to President Abraham Lincoln:
They [CSA] arm negroes and merciless savages in their behalf. Mr. Lincoln, the crisis demands greater efforts and sterner measures.
Series I, Volume XV
Major Frederick Frye (9th Regiment Connecticut Volunteers)
Pickets were thrown out that night, and Captain Hennessy, Company E, of the Ninth Connecticut, having been sent out with his company, captured a colored rebel scout, well mounted, who had been sent out to watch our movements.”
Series I, Volume XIII
Major General Samuel R. Curtis (2nd Iowa Infantry)
We are not likely to use one negro where the rebels have used a thousand. When I left Arkansas they were still enrolling negroes to fortify the rebellion.
Series I, Volume XIX, Part I-Reports
Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Wheeler Downey (3rd Maryland Infantry, Potomac Home Brigade)
Question by the Judge Advocate.: Do you know of any individual of the enemy having been killed or wounded during the siege of Harpers Ferry?
Answer. I have strong reasons to believe that there was a negro killed, who had wounded 2 or 3 of my men. I know that an officer took deliberate aim at him, and he fell over. He was one of the skirmishers of the enemy, and wounded 3 of my men. I know there must have been some of the enemy killed.
Question. How do you know the negro was killed?
Answer. The officer saw him fall.
Series I, Volume XVII
Brigadier General D. Stuart (U.S. Army 4th Brigade and Second Division)
It had to be prosecuted under the fire of the enemy’s sharpshooters, protected as well as the men might be by our skirmishers on the bank, who were ordered to keep up so vigorous a fire that the enemy should not dare to lift their heads above their rifle-pits; but the enemy, and especially their armed negroes, did dare to rise and fire, and did serious execution upon our men.
Series II, Volume VI
(Prisoners of War)
Lieutenant-Colonel William H Ludlow (Agent for Exchange of Prisoners / 73rd New York Volunteer Infantry)
And more recently the Confederate legislature of Tennessee have passed an act forcing into their military service (I quote literally) all male free persons of color between the ages of fifteen and fifty, or such number as may be necessary, who may be sound in body and capable of actual service; and they further enacted that in the event a sufficient number of free persons of color to meet the wants of the State shall not tender their services, then the Governor is empowered through the sheriff’s of different counties to impress such persons until the required number is obtained.
Series III, Volume III
Thomas H. Hicks (United States Senator, Maryland)
Excerpt from a Letter to President Abraham Lincoln:
I do and have believed that we ought to use the colored people, after the rebels commenced to use them against us.
Series I, Volume XXXV, Part I, Reports, Correspondence, etc.
Brigadier General Alexander Asboth (U.S. Army, District of West Florida)
We pursued them closely for 7 miles, and captured 4 privates of Goldsby’s company and 3 colored men, mounted and armed, with 7 horses and 5 mules with equipments, and 20 Austrian rifles
Series I, Volume XLI, Part IV, Correspondence, Etc.
Captain P. L. Powers (47th Missouri Infantry, Company H)
We have turned up eleven bushwhackers to dry and one rebel negro.
Series I, Volume XLIX, Part II
Major A. M. Jackson (10th U. S. Colored Heavy Artillery)
The rebels are recruiting negro troops at Enterprise, Mississippi, and the negroes are all enrolled in the State.
FOr liberals, wouldn’t that be a good thing that blacks were not segregated into their own units, like they were in the north (under white leaders of course, because the north wasn’t exactly the bastion of equality).
On September 10, 1862, Lewis H. Steiner, Inspector of the Sanitary Commission stated, “At four o’clock this morning the rebel army began to move from our town, Jackson’s force taking the advance. . . . The most liberal calculations could not give them more than 64,000 men. Over 3,000 negroes must be included in this number. . . . Most of the negroes had arms, rifles, muskets, sabres, bowie-knives, dirks, etc. They were supplied, in many instances, with knapsacks, haversacks, canteens, etc., and were manifestly an integral portion of the Southern Confederacy Army. . .”1
I am perfectly happy to admit some (a few) free blacks probably enlisted and served.
They did so, of course, despite the official CSA policy banning them from doing so, which wasn’t changed till the last month or two of the war.
The official ban seems more relevant than the fact that some fought in defiance of that ban.
This whole argument comes down, as the article says, to the old straw man argument presented by both sides.
“The war was entirely about slavery” is one side.
“The war had nothing to do with slavery” is the other.
Both are so self-evidently false that one hardly knows where to begin in refuting them
The core issue in the rising friction between the states was slavery and its containment or expansion. This is just an indisputable fact. Anything else could be compromised.
So the issue of slavery led directly to secession, as most if not all of the seceding states said very plainly in their Ordinances of Secession.
At this point we have seceded states. It would have been theoretically possible for the states to have left without war, though given historical precedent not very likely.
Did Union loyalists resist secession primarily because of slavery? Of course not. They stated very clearly and repeatedly they fought to preserve the Union.
Did most southerners fight primarily to protect slavery? Equally of course not. They fought to protect their homes, property and families. Duuuhhh.
So the “Did slavery cause the war” issue comes down to semantics.
Slavery caused secession.
Had nobody resisted secession there would have been no war, and the resistance did not (especially at first) have much of anything to do with slavery.
And most southerners did not so much fight intentionally or conciously to protect slavery as to protect their states and homes.
Slavery caused secession. Secession caused the war. But few of those who fought were doing so for or against slavery, as such. Wars and human motivation for fighting them are complex.
I’ve been going over this for some time and there are accounts of officers writing home saying the saw black confederates attacking their position or they captured black confederates
seems the facts are getting out and the left as usual have to quash them before too many find out
There was at least one, where you’d hardly expect a black to be serving the Confederacy. One of Quantrill’s guerillas was black. He scouted Lawrence, KS, before the Massacre.
Gates is an idiot.
remember Jacksons men and the union officers accounts of seeing them attack him plus Bedford forrest.
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