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 Posted: Thu Jun 18th, 2009 12:19 am
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Naim Peress
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I wrote a blog post today (http://www.civilwaretal.blogpost.com) about how unlikely it was that tens of thousands of blacks fought in the Confederate Army. I talked about the Cleburne monograph and Judah Benjamin's January 1865 speech in the African Church and the reaction to it.  Tell me what you think and why you think it.  I'm interested in other opinions.   



 Posted: Thu Jun 18th, 2009 02:05 am
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borderuffian
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From your article-

"Four days after Benjamin's speech, the Confederate Senate drafted a resolution stating,'Judah P. Benjamin is not a wise and prudent Secretary of State and lacks the confidence of the country.' "
=============================

I looked this up in the Journal of the Confederate Congress.  Such a resolution was proposed but it was voted down.



 Posted: Thu Jun 18th, 2009 02:09 am
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borderuffian
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Naim Peress wrote: I wrote a blog post today (http://www.civilwaretal.blogpost.com) about how unlikely it was that tens of thousands of blacks fought in the Confederate Army. I talked about the Cleburne monograph and Judah Benjamin's January 1865 speech in the African Church and the reaction to it.  Tell me what you think and why you think it.  I'm interested in other opinions.   

Who is being counted?

Those who were in actual military service?....or anyone who picked up a musket during a battle?



 Posted: Thu Jun 18th, 2009 10:54 am
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Naim Peress
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Thanks for the reply.  It is true that the resolution was voted down but it reflected the lack of confidence in Benjamin's leadership.  He felt the need to resign shortly afterward.  He drafted his resignation letter but President Davis rejected it.  Do you think it would have made a difference in the outcome of the war if Benjamin's policy had been adopted?



 Posted: Thu Jun 18th, 2009 10:56 am
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Naim Peress
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That is an excellent question.  I don't know the answer because a census was never taken of black members of the Confederate army.  How do you think historians should count it?  This is an important question now in Civil War history. 



 Posted: Fri Jun 19th, 2009 12:27 am
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CleburneFan
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I am a purist when it comes to counting strength of the armed forces in the Civil War. I would count African-Americans who fought for the South IF and only IF they had been officially mustered into the service either by conscription or as volunteers. They would have to have a rank, wear a uniform, and be assigned  to a company, regiment, division and corps. They would be entitled to at least some pay for their service and perhaps eventually entitled to a pension, however small.

African-Americans who did not meet those criteria but "helped out" in an informal manner in some battles or skirmishes either armed or using improvised weapons such as pitchforks and so on, do not count as actual Armed Forces. 

Those African-Americans who worked as cooks, teamsters, blacksmiths, laborers and the like without actually holding rank would be CIVILIAN labor that accompanied the Confederate army either voluntarily or under force. Most of the time, in the South such civilians would be non-combatants.

One reason would be that many Southerners were reluctant to arm their slaves and ex-slaves for combat for fear that the arms would be turned against the whites. When Patrick Cleburne made the controversial proposal to arm African-Americans, his proposal was considered to be so inflammatory that Jefferson Davis ordered that it be supressed and never discussed.



 Posted: Fri Jun 19th, 2009 11:53 am
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Naim Peress
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I agree with you.  Your criterion makes a lot of sense.  Thanks for the comment. 



 Posted: Fri Jun 19th, 2009 12:35 pm
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borderuffian
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Black involvement in the Confederate army was varied:

Slaves

Servant

Cook, Teamster, Musician-  Enlisted or hired out by slaveowner.

Free Blacks

Servant (hired)

Cook, Teamster, Musician-  Enlisted or hired.

Private (enlisted)



 Posted: Fri Jun 19th, 2009 01:09 pm
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j harold 587
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I must agree with Cleburne fan to be a member of the armed forces one would receive pay, be carried on a unit muster role, and hold a rank. If teamsters, cooks, laundresses, servants, and other types of camp followers are to be counted, then the truck drivers, catering staff, laundry providers, and other CIVILIAN support staff who support our military all over the wourld  would be considered military personell.

I understand that personell in those positions may have come under fire or responded in an armed manner, however they should not be considered soldiers.



 Posted: Fri Jun 19th, 2009 01:16 pm
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Naim Peress
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Aside from the Melungeons (I believe that is the spelling), there were no black soldiers in the Confederate army. Your list spells out what they could do.



 Posted: Fri Jun 19th, 2009 02:01 pm
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borderuffian
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Naim Peress wrote: Aside from the Melungeons (I believe that is the spelling), there were no black soldiers in the Confederate army. Your list spells out what they could do.
http://www.civilwarinteractive.com/forums/view_topic.php?id=2121&forum_id=1&jump_to=23655#p23655



 Posted: Fri Jun 19th, 2009 09:24 pm
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Albert Sailhorst
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I wrote this in another forum here on CWI a few moths ago. I think it partially relates to the topic.

"The website for the SCV Camp 469 of Rome, GA (http://scvcamp469-nbf.com/hollandservice.htm) presents the following in relation to a black Confederate's grave:

"Sunday, September 08, 2002

    The time came for Creed Holland to get the recognition he was due. He was a black slave, but also a Confederate soldier. And for such, Creed Holland was honored Saturday morning at a graveside ceremony in a small cemetery behind Riverview Baptist Church in Rocky Mount. 

    The Jubal Early chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy 
dedicated Confederate memorial markers to Creed Holland and two other 
black Confederate soldiers, also named Holland, from Franklin County. 

    Hazel Holland Davis, a member of the Jubal Early chapter and 
great-granddaughter of a Confederate soldier, organized the service as 
part of a chapterwide project to identify Confederate soldiers' graves in 
Franklin County. 

    The three Holland soldiers, of no known relation to each other or 
to Davis, worked as slaves on Thomas J. Holland's 732-acre farm in Glade 
Hill. Thomas Holland was Davis' great-great-grandfather. 

    The service was a rare memorial that honored the little-known Confederate soldiers: enslaved black soldiers. 

    About 45 Confederate re-enactors and members of the United Daughters of 
the Confederacy and Sons of Confederate Veterans performed the ceremony, 
which included poems, speeches, prayers and customary military funeral rites such as cannonball volleys and rifle shots." 


The article goes on in other detail (but I felt was too long to continue quoting here)."


Also, on the same forum, I posted:

"An intersting PDF file from the North Carolina Dept. of Cultural Resources, dated Feb. 2002 (http://www.ncdcr.gov/news/2003/opa_2-26-03.pdf):

"Among the records in North Carolina’s archives that document African Americans’ service are newspaper enrollment notices that give times for free Negroes to enlist in the Confederate Army, correspondence, Confederate pension applications, and depositions. Some military records note that slaves helped to construct forts or do other work at military facilities. Other documentation can be found in the “North Carolina Troops, 1861-1865,” a 15-volume set of reference books that chronicles Confederate servicemen and includes the names of black soldiers."



"In some instances, officials even denied the existence of black Confederate soldiers. For instance, Sarah Venable, widow of John W. Venable, applied for a widow’s pension. Venable is listed in the “North Carolina Troops, 1861-1865,” as a member of Company H, 21st Regiment N.C. Troops. The roster shows that he was “Negro, enlisted June 5, 1861. No further records.” However, John Sawyer, a white Confederate veteran who served with Venable, submitted a deposition as part of Sarah’s application stating that he knew John Venable, and that Venable had “made a good soldier.” Yet the claim was disallowed with the notation, “No law for this.”


Any thoughts???

Last edited on Fri Jun 19th, 2009 09:26 pm by Albert Sailhorst



 Posted: Sat Jun 20th, 2009 01:20 am
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Naim Peress
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I'm glad these men did receive the honors they deserve, albeit belatedly. 



 Posted: Sat Jun 20th, 2009 04:29 am
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Johan Steele
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http://www.civilwarinteractive.com/forums/view_topic.php?id=1845&forum_id=1&highlight=%26quot%3BBlack+Confederate%26quot%3B

 

An old closed thread w/ more info than you can want in one place.



 Posted: Sat Jun 20th, 2009 01:08 pm
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Naim Peress
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I can see the amount of debate.  I can also see that you've done a lot of reading on the topic.  I'm impressed. 



 Posted: Wed Jan 6th, 2010 08:02 pm
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swampfox16
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There certainly were not hundreds and hundreds of thousands of black confederates, but reason would have it that there were a great deal of them. Conservative and liberal estimates of their number are likely biased. According to an SCV Camp site ".. A Union sanitary commission officer saw 3,000 black armed combatants in the Confederate Army moving through Fredricksburg, Va., in 1862." The historian Anthony Cohen makes a good point in saying "these weren’t Africans who were fighting — they were Southern-born Americans fighting for the only homeland they knew.” I would highly suggest looking at the graphic novel Cleburne to anyone who doubts the Confederacy would advocate African Americans fighting for the south. A few generals were for this idea

Last edited on Wed Jan 6th, 2010 08:03 pm by swampfox16



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 Posted: Thu Jan 7th, 2010 03:51 pm
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HankC
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Black Confederates is always an interesting topic and has been since I observed my first such discussion a decade ago.

 

However the fascination is not necessarily over the topic itself, but with how evidence is used, misused, invented, ignored and analyzed then and now.

 

For example, Frederick Douglass says, "There are at the present moment, many colored men in the Confederate Army doing duty not only as cooks, servants and laborers, but as real soldiers, having muskets on their shoulders and bullets in their pockets, ready to shoot down  and do all that soldiers may do to destroy the Federal government."

 

Quite a statement. Rather than blindly accepting  it, what is Douglass’ motivation to make it, whether true or false? After all, we know he wanted the federal government to enroll black soldiers and, if the CSA was doing so, then so much the better for his effort.

 

What of Lewis Steiner’s account of 3,000 black confederates on the march through Frederick MD during the Antietam campaign?

 

Taht's about 2 full brigades, or more like a division, considering the amount of Confederate straggling during the Maryland campaign.

 

Steiner, of course, is the only person to have seen these soldiers, or at least the only one to report them. No one else records their presence. No union soldiers capture or bury any in the ensuing battle. Steiner is also the primary source of the Barbara Frietchie incident/poem but, more importantly, he is a staunch abolitionist supporting Douglass’ quest of enlisting black soldiers.

 

People in the 1860s were not above stretching, or inventing, 'the truth’. We need to be careful as well…

 

 

HankC



 Posted: Thu Jan 7th, 2010 04:39 pm
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borderuffian
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Here's the part of the Steiner report that mentions black Confederates. 

The only item worthy of notice or debate would be- 

"Most of the negroes had arms, rifles, muskets, sabres, bowie-knives, dirks, etc."

Nothing unusual about the rest.  3,000 black servants, teamsters, cooks intermingled within a Confederate army would be rather typical.



"Wednesday September 10 [1862].—At four o’clock this morning the rebel
army began to move from our town, Jackson’s force taking
the advance. The movement continued until eight o’clock p.m.,
occupying sixteen hours. The most liberal calculations could not
give them more than 64,000 men. Over 3,000 negroes must be
included in this number. These were clad in all kinds of uniforms,
not only in cast-off or captured United States uniforms, but
in coats with Southern buttons, State buttons, etc. These were
shabby, but not shabbier or seedier than those worn by white
men in the rebel ranks. 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. They were seen riding on horses and mules, driving wagons,
riding on caissons, in ambulances, with the staff of Generals,

and promiscuously mixed up with all the rebel horde. The fact was
patent, and rather, interesting when considered in connection
with the horror rebels express at the suggestion of black soldiers
being employed for the National defence."

pages 10-11-
http://www.edinborough.com/Learn/cw_nurses/Steiner.PDF



 Posted: Wed Jan 13th, 2010 03:24 am
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Johan Steele
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Hank C has the crux of the problem quite well in hand.

The problem w/ the account by Steiner is that NO ONE corroborates it. No CS officer or enlisted man, no US soldier or officer, no gravediggers (mostly black who would largely later end up in the USCT) mention them, no newspaper accounts come anywhere near mentioning them. Frankly, IMO Steiner had the same agenda as Douglas in inventing 3000 black men under arms in Jacksons command. In Jacksons command, a lot of people would have noted 3000 armed black men in the ranks. That there is no other mention of them is quite telling, quite telling indeed.

If there were 3000 black men in Jacksons command surely someone other than Steiner would have noted it, certainly the Iron Brigade boys would have noticed and you would thin the men of the Stonewall Brigade would have noticed 3000 black men in their Division; they didn't. No CS newspaper makes mention of them, neither does any US one. It cannot be verified and any historian of any repute will refuse to include a source unless it can be verified; Steiner cannot.

My own number stands at 14-1500 and I will give credence to the 13k number sometimes given as I've seen the methodology that came up w/ that number and find it reasonable even if I believe it far too high.



 Posted: Sat Jan 16th, 2010 01:32 pm
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Mark
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Johan you are exactly right in your last post. For anyone wanting to read more about this topic, I would recommend Robert Durden's "The Gray and the Black." Its a mostly documentary history of the Confederate debate on emancipation. Emancipation was very closely tied to the issue of using blacks as soldiers because of the American ideal of the volunteer CITIZEN soldier. The basic Confederate problem as that if you arm blacks as soldiers, you cannot deny that they are citizens, and if you admit that they are citizens, then how can you keep them enslaved? Eventually the Confederacy decided that independence was more important was slavery, but by then it was too late to make a difference.

-Mark



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