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Black Confederates the Truth at Last!

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  • Black Confederates the Truth at Last!

    This is an article I found in North and South Magazine. I have not studied it much, but it seems as biased as many Civil War articles are. Bruce Levine wrote the article and wants to prove there were never great numbers of Black Confederates.

    After a quick study, I find an interesting train of logic. He wants to use statements made by individuals that "deserted" or ran off to join the Union Army. That right there seems to be a pretty biased group of individuals! I bet a similar number of White Confederates made interesting statements as to why they left the Rebel ranks.

    All I can say is when they started having re-enactments of Gettysburg years afterward, the Yankees refused to find space for the number of Black Veterans that appeared. These gentlemen found shelter with the Confederate Veterans. Interesting turn of events, I must say and it shows relationships were never cut and dried. Mr Levine also seemed to ignore Nathan Bedford Forrest's Slaves that rode to War with him. I doubt that was the only such case in the War.

    Pruitt
    Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

    Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

    by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

  • #2
    Personally, I found it to be a fantastic article.

    You are ignoring the main part of the article completely-that claims of 50k+ black "soldiers" are unfounded & he provides some good documentation that squashes the notion of many of these being "combat" troops. Quotes from the Confederate President, Sec of War, & prominent generals all point to the fact that "large bodies" of these men simply did not exist except for the purposes of supply & digging trenches. On the flip side, more than 180,000 Union Black soldiers served (with records to prove it) & many participated in battles & had "battle honors" attributed to their regiments-like the 54th Mass, U.S. Colored Troops, & the Buffalo soldiers.

    Sorry Pruit, but there were no black regiments at Gettysburg & I think that most of those "Union" soldiers are trying to preserve history & be truthful about it. It's like when you read that women managed to make their way into fighting units in the Civil War, & then at reenactments you have entire units of "women" wanting to join in.....it just wasn't that predominant & to have 50+ women in a reenactment of 2000 men looks funny. Again, if you goto places where black units actually participated in combat, like Olustee, Fl, then you will find plenty of black units that are encouraged to participate. I did that one for several years & we always had plenty of black Union soldiers who did the events. You can PC up the event all you want, but changing the history simply because you want to include a group makes no sense.

    And Nathan Bedford Forrest's slaves RIDING with him doesn't mean that they were actively fighting. There were plenty of blacks who were forced into the various Confederate armies to do the manual labor of growing, cooking & preparing food; tending horses; moving artillery pieces; mining; being used as stretcher bearers; building earthworks; and stevedores.

    As the author points out, he admits that there may have been some that actually came willingly.....some even went so far as to shoot at the Yanks. But the number of "combat" troops was extremely low. There were no Confederate "regiments" of black soldiers-except for a few state militia units who didn't participate in any battles or the company sized units that never "formed" at the end of the war. The Confederate government took a very heavy handed approach to the notion of "black soldiers" on EITHER side. Those on the Union side were to be treated as rebelling against their masters & were to be dealt with accordingly while white officers in charge were said to be inciting "servile insurrection" & were to be summarily executed as well. Sounds like a great incentive to be caught with armed blacks doesn't it?!! When Pat Cleburne proposed freeing & arming the slaves to fight, he was met with much hostility & anger from the Confederate leadership & they effectively censored him & kept him from gaining rank. Pat should've made a MUCH higher command....he could have been a corps commander or better, but his ideas on "black Confederate soldiers" landed him in a lot of hot water politically. Now if there were "black Confederate soldiers" in ANY mass, why would the Confederate government & leadership act that way? If they made up even 10% of the effective Confederate strength (as some of the claims make), then why would they reject such a proposal? It doesn't make sense because those numbers & soldiers simply didn't exist.

    I look forward to Bruce Levine's book when it comes out & shows a more deatiled analysis of it.
    The muffled drums sad roll has beat the soldier's last tatoo. No more on life's parade shall meet that brave and fallen few.

    Comment


    • #3
      Hellboy,

      I have never claimed to be one of those that raised a big fuss about the issue of thousands of Blacks in Gray. What raised my ire was the sources he used to describe why it was impossible to be Black and in Confederate service. The two points I raised about Confederate Veterans at Gettysburg and NBF's personal Slaves going to war with him are two fairly well known instances and seemed to be ignored. He did not seem to want to pursue either case, probably because they contradicted his argument.

      Thousands of soldiers on both sides were drafted into service and for whatever personal reasons, decided they wanted out and left Union and Confederate service. I don't see why Blacks could not do the same.

      A large number of Confederates were re-enlisted for Union service as well. These were called Galvanised Yankees.

      I have read the stories for years about why the Confederate government would not allow Blacks to enlist as soldiers and I was looking for something new and interesting. If one considers one of the Black Militia units present in the South, the Free Black Militia Battalion in New Orleans, you will find that these soldiers did not want to fight much for North or South. Some individuals did volunteer for Union Service and did fight. Most stayed home with their families. The entire unit volunteered to fight for the defense of New Orleans. They were never issued weapons and never were sent from New Orleans. At this time, thousands more White Confederates in Louisiana were without weapons as well. All the armed troops being sent off to Virginia, Tennessee and Pensacola. The same unit was given weapons and fought in the War of 1812 at the Battle of New Orleans. If the Confederates had decided to make a stand at New Orleans and had the arms, I would have expected these soldiers to fight.

      The stories of house slaves leading Yankees to hoarded silver is not new and I don't see as germane to the argument. Richard Taylor went to war with his "personal servant" who helped raise General Taylor. He served as valet and dogrobber to the General for the entire war and could have left on his own accord. To say a batman to an officer does not count as a soldier is to ignore the services rendered.

      I was looking for some semblance to the truth and got instead a highly biased account of how beastly the South was. I always considered the truth as nether being a Black or White, but shades of both. I feel Mr Levine ignored much and only included what he thought would prove his case (and that never surprizes me! LOL!). To me "service" in the military covers the whole spectrum and is not limited to the Infantry, Artillery and Cavalry. Eliminating Musicians, Wagon Drivers, Cooks, Nurses, Servants and other roles is a bit pretentious. You can on the other hand safely ignore sutlers! Combat can and does throw these personnel into the battle and they do participate.

      Rant over.

      Pruitt
      Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

      Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

      by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

      Comment


      • #4
        A large number of Confederates were re-enlisted for Union service as well. These were called Galvanised Yankees.
        As far as I know, and that isn't all that far, the Galvanised Yankees refered to thos e ex CSA troops that joined the Federal forces and served in the Far West against the Indians.

        I have never hear of the CSA having anything close to the ____Reg of USCT. were black Americans served in regimental size units.

        HP
        "Ask not what your country can do for you"

        Left wing, Right Wing same bird that they are killing.

        you’re entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.

        Comment


        • #5
          History is never cut and dry, there were some black Confederates who fought, maybe even a few thousand. But most blacks served the CSA army as servants, trench diggeres cooks etc. Blacks did the same in the Union army for the first 2 years and when they allowed to enlist their job description changed.

          However, just because the evidence isn't there doesn't mean it didn't happen. This is also a new area of detailed study for Civil War history, it will be interesting what evidence emerges.

          There is an earlier article by Jason and Susan Silverman in North and South Volume 5 Number 3 (April 2002) that explores the roles that blacks played in the Confederate armies. Some cool facts and numbers:

          - enlistment records for the CSA aren't as clear and detailed as the Union, doesn't help much in the research.
          - a picture from the 1890 Alabama Confederate Veterans Reunion, blacks were welcomed and attended this reunion and many others.
          - the authors list as roles that blacks played as laborers, musicians, cooks, servants.
          - quotes James M McPherson as saying that 30,000 black soldiers is "pure fantasy"
          - but also quotes the diary from Lewis Steiner of Fredrick Maryland who wrote that when the Confederates marched through Fredrick in route to Sharpsburg he counted 64,000 soldiers and 3,000 black soldiers. (5% of the army
          - the authors use this 5% to estimate of 750,000 CSA soldiers there may have been 30,000 blacks in CSA armies.
          - the article also states that there were numerous accounts of black CSA soldiers serving as pickets, and that Fitzhugh Lee had "three companies of negro troops, cavalry, armed with carbines" under his command

          There is some eveidence that blacks served as soldiers in the CSA armies, its just not as substantial and clear as the Union records.
          Last edited by vicfirth311; 31 Jul 07, 20:12.
          All war is based on deception. - Sun Tzu

          Comment


          • #6
            A point I would like to make is that many personal accounts of Freed Slaves during and after the War were made for the Northern readership and I would expect it to follow Northern mores. I would love to see personal accounts from the "body servants" of Generals Lee, Jackson and Taylor. An account by one or more of Nathan Bedford Forrest's slaves would make interesting reading as well. I have yet to hear of any magazines interviewing any prominent body servants. Anybody hear of any interviews of construction troops, musicians, teamsters and other Confederates?

            The Old Testament of the Bible has at least one instance where Abram armed all his males in his clans, including slaves, and went out and re-captured his nephew Lot. IF NBF told his slaves to fight, I don't see any of them not fighting. I read a while back that all but one of NBF's slaves survived to be freed. Their survival record was much better than his personal mounts! NBF killed more Yankees than personal mounts so he liked to brag he was still ahead!

            I am also going to ask whoever claimed the Confederate troops ever did not dig their own trenches and earthworks? If they were close to Yankee lines, how could they prevent the whole gang from sneaking off to "freedom"? Most troops from the South were from small farms and were used to hard physical labor. If told to dig a trench, they could and would do so.

            I can speak of one thing handed down in my Mother's family. My Great Great Grandmother was a young girl living near what is now Monroe, Louisiana during the war. Yankees from the Vicksburg area came through and looted all food and valuables from her farm. All the young slaves went off with the Yankees. The old ones were in despair asking little Missy "what we going to do now with no food?" Granny told them they had better hurry and catch up with the Yankees! I bet all of these slaves told horror stories to the Yankees while eating Yankee's food.

            To my knowledge no Black unit saw active service for the Confederacy. The two I am most familiar with are the Free Black Militias of New Orleans and Natchitoches. I am suspicious of the Free Black Militia Cavalry Troop during the Red River Campaign. No one seems to remember seeing in which direction they went!

            Maybe if Mr Levine had not tacked on that part about the truth at last, I would not be agravated.

            Pruitt
            Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

            Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

            by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by vicfirth311 View Post
              .

              - but also quotes the diary from Lewis Steiner of Fredrick Maryland who wrote that when the Confederates marched through Fredrick in route to Sharpsburg he counted 64,000 soldiers and 3,000 black soldiers. (5% of the army
              - the authors use this 5% to estimate of 750,000 CSA soldiers there may have been 30,000 blacks in CSA armies.
              .
              Lee had nowhere near 64,000 men in Frederick Md. Many sources confirm a number around 40,000, and also point out the Steiner's estimate was too large.

              Besides saying all Confederate armies had the same % of blacks is like saying they had the same 5 of Virginians or Tennesseans.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by grognard View Post
                Lee had nowhere near 64,000 men in Frederick Md. Many sources confirm a number around 40,000, and also point out the Steiner's estimate was too large.

                Besides saying all Confederate armies had the same % of blacks is like saying they had the same 5 of Virginians or Tennesseans.
                I agree but thats just what the article said.

                They also had a picture of the 1st Louisiana Native Gaurd, comprised solely of black soldiers from 1861. This unit was disbanded when the Union caotured New Orleans and then formed a new 1st Louisiana Native Guard also of all black soldiers but this time on the Union side.

                I wonder how much the enlistments overlapped?
                All war is based on deception. - Sun Tzu

                Comment


                • #9
                  Behind this question, I always hear the unspoken question, "Is it possible that slavery wasn't entirely evil?" Because if slaves willingly accompanied their masters, and if some may have even served in the CSA military, doesn't that tend to disprove the notion that the ACW was a righteous crusade to abolish human bondage?

                  Interesting that people should have to ask themselves such questions.

                  To my mind, the ACW was certainly not a righteous crusade anyhow. I doubt there has ever been such a thing in all of human history.

                  Slavery may be "entirely evil" according to some people's standards. But if so, where does war fit on that scale? Didn't Sherman tell us it's hell?

                  Just wondering aloud.
                  --Patrick Carroll


                  "Do all you have agreed to do, and do not encroach on other persons or their property." (Richard Maybury)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Patrick Carroll View Post
                    Behind this question, I always hear the unspoken question, "Is it possible that slavery wasn't entirely evil?" Because if slaves willingly accompanied their masters, and if some may have even served in the CSA military, doesn't that tend to disprove the notion that the ACW was a righteous crusade to abolish human bondage?

                    Interesting that people should have to ask themselves such questions.

                    To my mind, the ACW was certainly not a righteous crusade anyhow. I doubt there has ever been such a thing in all of human history.

                    Slavery may be "entirely evil" according to some people's standards. But if so, where does war fit on that scale? Didn't Sherman tell us it's hell?

                    Just wondering aloud.
                    Well, while I would say that there may be a few rare cases of women who enjoy it, on the whole I would say that rape is pretty much a terrible thing. Same thing with slavery.

                    While there may have been some really nice "masters" out there, overall I think everyone would agree that slavery is an "evil" institution.
                    The muffled drums sad roll has beat the soldier's last tatoo. No more on life's parade shall meet that brave and fallen few.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Vic,

                      From what I have read on the Free Black Militia of New Orleans, some of the Black officers and some of the rank and file did enter Union service. Judging on the steps Nate Banks took to get rid of these Black officers, it would appear the New England troops that were around New Orleans did not want to salute these officers and gentlemen. The shame of this is when the Battalion went to the Front at Port Hudson, these Black officers gave their lives in an assault that was entirely unsupported by nearby White Yankees. The Division Commander that sent them in stayed at his tent, drunk. These Black officers were of a better social class than many of their comrades in Union service. They were mostly from wealthy families (exception PBS Pinchback, son of a White Mississippi Farmer). Ole PBS and several other Black officers had already resigned their commision before the unit saw active service.

                      The Union General (Butler) that raised the Corps d' Afrique in Louisiana did not care who served in the regiments. The Free Black Militia was an exclusive club for wealthy Freemen in pre-war New Orleans. I can see where some of the enlisted would refuse to serve with ex-slaves. This does not make them right, just human.

                      Pruitt
                      Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

                      Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

                      by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by hellboy30 View Post
                        Well, while I would say that there may be a few rare cases of women who enjoy it, on the whole I would say that rape is pretty much a terrible thing. Same thing with slavery.

                        While there may have been some really nice "masters" out there, overall I think everyone would agree that slavery is an "evil" institution.
                        I gotta agree with you Hellboy on this point.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I think the old take that some enjoyed slavery was that some of them had no reference to what a better life was.
                          A lot came from some pretty desolate African areas.

                          Interesting site

                          http://www.scvcamp469-nbf.com/thebla...atesoldier.htm

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally Posted by Patrick Carroll
                            Behind this question, I always hear the unspoken question, "Is it possible that slavery wasn't entirely evil?" Because if slaves willingly accompanied their masters, and if some may have even served in the CSA military, doesn't that tend to disprove the notion that the ACW was a righteous crusade to abolish human bondage?

                            Interesting that people should have to ask themselves such questions.

                            To my mind, the ACW was certainly not a righteous crusade anyhow. I doubt there has ever been such a thing in all of human history.

                            Slavery may be "entirely evil" according to some people's standards. But if so, where does war fit on that scale? Didn't Sherman tell us it's hell?

                            Just wondering aloud.
                            Well, while I would say that there may be a few rare cases of women who enjoy it, on the whole I would say that rape is pretty much a terrible thing. Same thing with slavery.

                            While there may have been some really nice "masters" out there, overall I think everyone would agree that slavery is an "evil" institution.
                            I suppose so. I guess I could agree with that. But I still wouldn't call the ACW a righteous crusade to abolish human bondage.

                            In fact, I can't think of a single truly righteous crusade in all of military history.

                            Maybe "righteous crusade" is an oxymoron.
                            --Patrick Carroll


                            "Do all you have agreed to do, and do not encroach on other persons or their property." (Richard Maybury)

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              [QUOTE=Patrick Carroll;736635]Behind this question, I always hear the unspoken question, "Is it possible that slavery wasn't entirely evil?" Because if slaves willingly accompanied their masters, and if some may have even served in the CSA military, doesn't that tend to disprove the notion that the ACW was a righteous crusade to abolish human bondage?[QUOTE]

                              The Confederate Government told the slaves that joined the army in March, 1865, that they would get "eventual freedom." That's what put several thousand into the Confederate Armies.

                              There were even reports that several hundreds of blacks were captured at Saylor's Creek by Union troops.

                              A good reference for it is Virginia's Civil War Battlefield Guide.
                              History of War Podcast

                              Episode 1: Why Study Military History?

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