Brass Napoleon Award Black Southerners and the Confederate Cause--What the newspapers said: 1861-1865

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Southern newspapers did not mind talking about free blacks volunteering to fight, even if those efforts ultimately came to nothing. Take the following, for example:

The Daily Dispatch. (Richmond [Va.]) 1850-1884, January 29, 1861
The Columbus (Ga.) Enquirer has the following paragraph:​
Joe Clark, a colored barber of this city, has written a letter to Gov. Brown, offering to raise a company of free colored men, to be enlisted in the service of the State of Georgia in the present crisis. Whatever may be thought of the policy of enlisting soldiers of this cast, the offer is a patriotic one, and ought to show the "philanthropists" of the North that the free colored population of the South do not appreciate their efforts in behalf of the negro race. Joe served in the Indian war of 1836, and still limps occasionally from a wound received in that campaign.​

The motivation for the Daily Dispatch to comment on it is given: to them it demonstrates to Northern abolitionists that their help is not wanted. If volunteering to fight is good propaganda, it seems like actually fighting would be just as useful, but perhaps they did not see it that way.

Despite this self-serving motive, note that Joe Clark's offer is called patriotic, and his past military service is noted. When the free colored population of New Orleans organize, their past military service in the war of 1812 is also pointed out, and I have seen other instances in southern papers where free or slave participation in the War of 1812 or the Revolutionary War was mentioned, so this history was not buried. It was known.

In any case, this story which originated in a southern paper was reprinted in a number of newspapers, north and south:

0129 - The daily dispatch. (Richmond [Va.]) 1850-1884, January 29, 1861 - posted
0130 - The central Georgian. (Sandersville, Ga.) 1847-1874, January 30, 1861
0131 - Yorkville enquirer. [volume] (Yorkville, S.C.) 1855-2006, January 31, 1861
0201 - Daily Ohio statesman. (Columbus, Ohio) 1855-1870, February 01, 1861 - posted
0215 - The Caledonian. (St. Johnsbury, Vt.) 1837-1867, February 15, 1861
0221 - Holmes County farmer. (Millersburg, Ohio) 1857-1926, February 21, 1861 - posted
0412 - Memphis daily appeal. (Memphis, Tenn.) 1847-1886, April 12, 1861 - posted
0425 - Fayetteville observer. (Fayetteville, Tenn.) 1850-1966, April 25, 1861

Counting the Columbus Enquirer, that's at least six southern newspapers and three northern who ran this story. It is not difficult for me to understand a belief in the North that Southern black men would fight, given stories like this one. I have found no indication that Joe Clark's offer was accepted, but the simple willingness to make the offer demonstrates a mindset and contributes to the evidence that helped make those later military reports of black Southern soldiers plausible to northern readers.
 
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Cedar Falls gazette. (Cedar Falls, Iowa) 1860-1895,
View attachment 297047
May 1862, 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."


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The item of interest to me from this article is the idea that if and when it came to arming black men for the CS army, Davis would begin with those already employed by the army as quartermasters or in the commissary department. In other words, it would a transfer of black men from non-combat military jobs to combat, recruiting from those already in the military before drawing anything from the slave population.

Orleans independent standard. (Irasburgh, Vt.) 1856-1871, November 18, 1864
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A black servant of a Confederate officer, "fighting by his master's side" and killing black Union troops at Fort Pillow? Apparently so, and the writer of this 1867 article is amused that his man is elevated above the other former Confederates under the "Brownlow Constitution" when he was just like them during the war. He was "the bitterest rebel of all."

The Elk advocate. (Ridgway, Elk Co., Pa.) February 28, 1867
View attachment 296899
Here is another mention of the black man who killed some of the USCT at Fort Pillow.

The Evansville journal. (Evansville, Ind.) 1866-1870, March 05, 1867
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"...digging trenches and guarding Federal prisoners." I wonder if he was armed while guarding prisoners? It does seem likely.

Continuing the theme of some other stories published immediately post-war, black men who were on the Confederate side during the war were often known, and what they did during the war was known. The theme of this story is similar to that of the March 5, 1867 Evansville journal in post 2954. Some "rebel negroes" who spent the war with the Confederate army from start to finish were nonetheless able to vote without taking the oath of allegiance, while the white "rebels" had to "swear a lie" and still were not allowed to vote.

The Pulaski citizen. (Pulaski, Tenn.) 1866-current, March 16, 1866
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As Host.
Please be sensitive that in this forum things past 1869 or so needs to be in the reconstruction forum
Thanks.
I do have a good number of post-war newspaper articles all throughout this thread. They often shed some light on wartime events and individuals, or tell us how these men were viewed in the decades after the war.

I've posted this particular story before, but it's worth revisiting this 1889 article about Eli Pickett, who received no mention that I can find in the newspapers during the war, but who fought and was wounded during the war, and shunned by other black men after the war ended, because they said he had fought to keep them in slavery. It was the attempt to obtain a pension for Eli Pickett that brought him into the public eye, as those who felt he deserved a pension wanted his story made public. They were successful in obtaining him a pension, despite the initial refusal by a judge.

The Times-Picayune, 10 Aug 1889
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The gold leaf. September 19, 1889
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