Skip to comments.The Black Confederate
Posted on 05/21/2005 1:31:37 PM PDT by CurlyBill
Contrary to popular historical education and Southern revisionists, there is much evidence that African-American's served their country not only in the Union army but also in the Confederate army and navy. This evidence is found in the diaries, journals, newspaper articles and documents written by soldiers, officers and politicians.
Many institutions have set about to dismantle these findings by declaring them as `revisionist,' however the proof that these written accounts exist at all shows that slaves were present in the service of their state and country.
It was the commanders in the field who saw the greatest potential in the use of the African-American slave long before the politicians would admit their value. On January 2nd, 1864 Major General Patrick Cleburne of the Army of Tennessee, circulated a petition among several officers calling for the enrolling and arming of slaves into the Southern Army.
The petition read in part, "As between the loss of independence and the loss of slavery, we assume that every patriot will freely give up the latter---give up the Negro slaves rather than become a slave himself." It was signed by three other generals, four colonels, three majors, one captain, and two lieutenants.
Politicians were horrified by the idea. Confederate Major General and political advisor to Jefferson Davis, Howell Cobb pointed out, "If slaves will make good soldiers our whole theory of slavery is wrong." Davis had Cleburne's petition suppressed, yet the idea would not go away.
In February 1865, General Robert E. Lee wrote to Confederate President Jefferson Davis requesting authorization to fill his ranks with slaves, saying that they were already physically fit, and mentally conditioned to be well disciplined. In March, the Confederated Congress passed a bill that when to Davis' desk.
While it was awaiting his signature General Lee wrote the President again, "I do not know whether the law authorizing the use of Negro troops has received your sanction, but I respectfully recommend the measures be taken to carry it into effect as soon as practible." It was signed on March 13th and by the first of April, Colonel Otey, 11th Virginia Infantry, was assigned to duty in Lynchburg, VA, to recruit, muster and organize black units for the Confederate army.
Although this unit saw no action according to official accounts other records indicate they were drilling and standing by to defend the city. There are also historical documents indicating that thousands of slaves served in the Southern army as noncombatants in roles like cooks, teamsters and musicians.
And when called upon they would fight along side `freemen' who served in such outstanding state-militias like the 1st Louisiana Native Guard; Company A and F, 14th Mississippi Confederate Calvary; Company D, 35th Texas Calvary; or the 1,150 black sailors who served in the Confederate navy.
Finally, the first military monument in the US Capitol which honors African-American soldiers is the Confederate monument, erected in 1914. It depicts a black Confederate soldier marching in step with white Confederate soldiers. Also shown is a white soldier giving his child to a black woman for safety.
We may never understand everything about those five remarkable years, but we cannot ever stop trying. And it is time to realize that the historical record has been obscured to the truth on the part of the African-American's role in the Southern Army as a soldier and sailor and to bring these facts to light as both a matter of pride and education.
Well, yeah. They were slaves.
A black fighting for the Confederacy is like a rich person fighting for Communism-it plain does not make any SENSE!
Perhaps illogical, but that does not make it untrue. Most of the people who are fighting for Communism are rich people.
Consider just the examples of Senators Kennedy, Kerry, and Clinton.
True enough.Guess its just a case of the absurd and paradoxical state of the human mind!
We are not a logical species.
True of course, but the article makes reference after reference to use of slaves, not Freemen or black slave holders.
Don't forget Soros.
How could that be? Did the slave have citizenship? No, of course not. Therefore, it can't by definition be his country.
Statements like that are unbelievable. Just a cursory knowledge of the law of the land should prohibit one from even making that argument!
Most people dont realize that Slavery in the southern states was about MORE than mere Race. There were free, black slave owners, thousands of them. Slavery was a way of life for many back in Africa. Not all blacks were slaves in the US South. Some blacks owned slaves. This fact is astounding to many, confusing for some, and leads to a cognitive dissonance in others..
I don't doubt those facts, and they are certainly belong in any body of research on the subject. The significance of such facts may be subject to debate, though. What might be helpful is personal accounts of those volunteers (or conscripts, as the case may be) in the form of diaries or letters that indicated their motivations. Maybe being on the front line with a gun was preferable to being "back home" for one reason or another. Maybe the promise of freedom or some level of privilege in the Confederacy was another. And of course, there had to be a certain number of true believers, for whatever that's worth.
An honest acknowledgement of history shows that to be true. There were many black slave owners. It's not a secret.
Slavery was a way of life for many back in Africa.
True, but what has that to do with this nation? Answer: Nothing.
Not all blacks were slaves in the US South. Some blacks owned slaves. This fact is astounding to many, confusing for some, and leads to a cognitive dissonance in others..
Somehow I missed being in a state of cognitive dissonance about this. I wonder why that is.
Helsinki syndrome, perhaps?
Any black man or woman who voluntarily fought for the Confederacy was a damn fool.
It's an historical fact that blacks did fight for the South. They didn't have them at division strength as did the North, but they served none-the-less.
As for sentiment, Shelby Foote tells of a slave that accompanied Lee's army into Pennsylvania that thought PA looked like a nice place, but he preferred "home."
The Civil War was as complicated as are human beings, a blending of meanness and greatness as Bruce Catton described.
Edgerton blames the media and the educational system for creating the perception that exists today regarding southern history. "This is a continuation about the lies of the Christian southern white folks during the Civil War. African Americans in this country don't know a thing about that war and that time. They see that flag and someone says slavery and it all falls apart and they think of Southern Christian white folks as being evil."
"We can't let the stars and stripes get away that easy. Never were the stars and bars flag flown over a slave ship. And you want to know why? Because it's a Christian Battle Flag that was emulated after St. Andrew, Jesus Christ's first disciple. In 69 A.D. in Petro, Greece -- now a part of Russia -- St. Andrew was jailed because of his teaching and preaching of Jesus Christ, his Lord and Master, and he was told he was going to be crucified on the cross. He begged that persecutor not to nail him to that Latin cross in the shape of "T" because he was not worthy of being punished the way Jesus Christ had been nailed. So he begged to be tied in an X-shape to the cross and the persecutor did what he asked him to. That X is a Greek symbol to CH, the first two letters in Christ's name. When St. Andrew was on the cross he continued his teaching of Christ and all the folks started believing him and for three days he remained on that cross teaching and after three days they begged the persecutor to take him down and when he did, St. Andrew came down off that cross and died, and he became a martyr and a saint.
"When (Civil War Confederate ) General Beaureguard decided they needed another flag, he chose the cross of St. Andrew for these reasons. Most Southerners, in fact, did not want to do away with the stars and stripes because they didn't feel they had done anything wrong. They thought it was the north who was eradicating the Constitution.
"And as for President Lincoln, our American hero, who signed the Emancipation Proclamation. In march of 1861 Abraham Lincoln called all those black leaders in his office and he told them -- Even if I set you free you'll be inferior. You need to get out of the country because I will colonize you. Lincoln proposed the 13th Amendment, being the only President ever to do so. That amendment said Congress would never have the power to interrupt an institution of state. He told the southerners they could keep the slaves if they paid the North a 42% tariff. The South agreed to a 10% tariff but not 42%. So, who I am supposed to blame the institution of slavery on?
"At that time, one of the richest men in the world, John D. Rothchild told his family to put all their money into the Confederacy and described Lincoln as a crook. He said the slaves in the south were better off than the slaves in the north who had to work for next to nothing in the cotton mills.
"The attack on the Confederacy doesn't get the attention it deserves. These blacks today have no idea what took place back then. (Blacks) earned a place of dignity in that war. If it wasn't for Africans that war would have lasted four days, not four years. We made all of the implements of war, we fought, we participated -- not one slave insurrection happened during that period of time. They did not have whips and guns forcing them to be there. God and his infinite wisdom brought these people here. He brought about a love between master and slave that has never happened before. If you search this empirically then you will know the only one who cared about the African was the man in the south. But we don't want to face that.
If you have evidence of that, post it. Otherwise the more likely interpretation is that "cleaning weapons etc." was the slave's work, whether on not he on occasion picked up a gun.
There is much testament from Union solders caught by surprise by a slave fighting for his country, The SOUTH.
Again, if you have evidence of Union troops coming upon Blacks and being fired upon them, then post it. There are stories of Northerners taking navvys and sappers digging trenches for combat soldiers. That was a plausible mistake. There are also stories of Union troops being pinned down by snipers whom they took to be Black. The problem is that in the darkness and chaos and from a distance it would be hard to tell just what the race of a sniper was.
Talk about messing up a reparations claim.
Good catch, by the way, referring to the number of Blacks that owned slaves in pre-war Orleans Parish. That little nugget of info never sees the light of day.
I have heard that blacks were paid the same as whites in the confederate army, not so in the union army. granted confederate money probably was worthless anyway, but I guess it was the thought that counts :p
Hold on. I answered a post of yours using sound logic and acknowledgement of the law as my basis. Yet here you move this to the personal level by saying that my line of thinking is "stupid," and that I'm "emoting," even though what I said was dispassionate.
Well, if you were in a state of cognitive dissonance, you wouldn't know it, would you? In fact, you could be in one now...
This article only talks about slaves that we can assume were forced to fight for the Confederacy. What is even less well known is that there were free blacks that fought for the CSA. In New Orleans during the Civil War there were quite a few black free tradesmen. When Union General Butler attacked New Orleans, residents defended the city composed of both white and black CSA soldiers. They were defending their city from attack. Butler occupied the city and imposed martial law, with its attendant rapes and pillaging of the fair city of New Orleans. He it was who said that any woman you see can be assumed to be a 'lady of the evening' and you could have your way with her. The false impression that New Orleans girls are tramps lingers to this day.
Re: "If you have evidence of that, post it."
and Re: "Again, if you have evidence of Union troops coming upon Blacks and being fired upon them, then post it."
From post #28 please see it for more details. Hear is a snip:
There is a good book on the subject written by a black professor at the University of Virginia by the name of Jordan. His book is Afro Americans and Black Confederates in Civil War Virginia. I am pretty sure it is still in print. His book was limited to the 4 years of the war and just in Virgina but what a gold mine. Lot of fascinating stories dealing with all aspects of slave life. He was trying to figure out why a slave would fight for the South.
His conclusion? It was their country same as the white man.
Really? I am not sure that the outcome of the Civil War actually advanced the cause of Blacks in America. Remember the Army was segregated as late as 1948. I firmly believe that slavery as an instituition was moribund and the Civil War aroused animosities and hardened positions.
"And when called upon they would fight along side `freemen' who served in such outstanding state-militias like the 1st Louisiana Native Guard; Company A and F, 14th Mississippi Confederate Calvary; Company D, 35th Texas Calvary; or the 1,150 black sailors who served in the Confederate navy."
A bigger paradox (sorry I couldn't resist) was the white slaves. Yes folks they were real, they were not a myth.
I just bought this book a few weeks ago. It's excellent. Fairly scholarly and well-researched, but not tedious. He is a black scholar himself, so he didn't have some League-of-the-South ax to grind.
People don't seem to understand this. Whether you're black or white, slave or free, you love the land in which you were born. You see an invading army burning and pillaging its way across the countryside, threatening to destroy your home, and you may well pick up a gun and fight, even if your position has not been wonderful.
Remember also that not all black slaves were suffering in the forests of Georgia. In northern Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley, for instance, some of them had relatively light work (by the standards for all rural people of the period) and in many cases even farmed their own acreage or ran their own side businesses, without having to worry about where their clothing or food would come from, because the master would always provide it. That's not a bad deal, especially if you haven't been raised on ideas of equality and freedom, and it's not surprising that a lot of blacks didn't want to rock the boat. Some of them even objected to emancipation, as it required initiative, independence, and a willingness to take care of onesself in an age that offered no social safety net.
So in some respects it's not surprising that certain blacks may have taken arms against the Union.
"I feel the institution of slavery was a moribund one"
Probably so.Might have lasted another forty years or so at the most.Yet thats small consolation for those who had to live under that yoke and wait till slavery died a natural death.
All the people who say life was no paradise for Northern blacks are quite correct.That does NOT excuse the peculiar institution in the South,however.
And,yes,there were quite a few free blacks who owned slaves.Why is that a surprise?Blacks can be just as cruel and capricious to their own folks as whites can!Most of the slave owning blacks were mulatto offspring of white masters and slave women.They often inherited that attitude of"I'm better than those field n*****"since I have white blood.
Hell,you see that attitude TODAY among lots of blacks.Just go to any urban high school in the country!
Knock it off.
Something else to consider also. The whole world had just come out of a period of serfdom in which, essentially, everyone other than the "nobility" were slaves.
That slavery existed in the aftermath of that concept might have been considered a step upward.
Many of the people fighting, on both sides of the War Between The States, were the Irish and Scots. Why were they here? Because they were treated like property where they had been. Unwelcome property, at that!
Slavery may have been the moral motivation for Northern troops. But there were many dynamics in that war.
bizarre thread I have to say
I am just wondering what the draft riots were all about then. If a group of people came from being treated like property then why treat other people like property? That's just strange to me. Well shouldn't be. No one wants to be a slave, and when afforded the first opportunity to be a master, human nature has opted for that route.
It doesn't make sense in today's mentality BUT I can easily see how a slave would fight for the Confederacy, something they're familiar with than the Union side.
It's true what you say Mark but doesn't take away from the point that slavery was wrong. After all, not all Jews were in the holocaust and in fact hunted down other Jews in Germany, Poland and elsewhere. Yet, I've never heard anyone say the same about Jews.
You make a valid point, one I was aware of. You are assuming that the life of a freedman during those forty years was markedly better than a slave's in the period before.
On balance, I am not sure that the Civil War even accomplished the goal of advancing the cause of Black Americans. The costs in terms of blood and treasure aside, all the other effects of the War, were, imho, distinctly negative.
This brings to mind another distinction...the Constitution never said blacks were three-fifths of a person. It referred to 'all other Persons' which in context meant those who were not Free men or indentured/temporary servants. I can't speak to the political status of antebellum free blacks, but according to the document they were entitled to full representation.
That compromise actually turned out in favor of abolition, as it denied the South greater political power commensurate with its large slave population.
Well okay I understand. I just wonder why people bring up the fact that there were blacks that owned slaves in the South as if that changes anything. I see it done a lot in FR and wonder why that happens. Is it a response to liberals or something?