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


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Burlington free press. (Burlington, Vt.) 1827-1865, May 19, 1865
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Hmm, could it that Yankees during the war didn't believe their own newspapers? :unsure:
“There are quite a few Negroes in their ranks, whose uniforms seem to mark them as soldiers as much so as their masters.”
 
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Hmm, could it that Yankees during the war didn't believe their own newspapers? :unsure:
“There are quite a few Negroes in their ranks, whose uniforms seem to mark them as soldiers as much so as their masters.”
The coverage and discussion shows that some believed it, some did not. Certainly by the end of the war, when this was published, it was a widely reported and discussed fact that the South planned mass enlistment and arming of slaves, so anyone who saw black men in Confederate uniforms was likely to assume they were among the newly enlisted soldiers.
 
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This is a slightly more detailed version of a story I posted some time back. The talk about black men (and Indians) in the Confederate army was pervasive enough that the House passed a resolution requiring an inquiry. The US Government wanted to know the truth of the stories. That's how high up this talk went. It wasn't just newspapers.

Having said that, the Secretary of War didn't do a very thorough job, because we know there were Indians involved in some of the battles in the western theater, and there were plenty of free blacks working for the CS army as cooks, teamsters, etc., even if we ignore the possibility of combat-related duties. However, the Secretary of War of the US was "in receipt of no information whatever".

The national Republican. (Washington, D.C.) 1860-1862, July 29, 1861
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Viper21

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This is a slightly more detailed version of a story I posted some time back. The talk about black men (and Indians) in the Confederate army was pervasive enough that the House passed a resolution requiring an inquiry. The US Government wanted to know the truth of the stories. That's how high up this talk went. It wasn't just newspapers.

Having said that, the Secretary of War didn't do a very thorough job, because we know there were Indians involved in some of the battles in the western theater, and there were plenty of free blacks working for the CS army as cooks, teamsters, etc., even if we ignore the possibility of combat-related duties. However, the Secretary of War of the US was "in receipt of no information whatever".

The national Republican. (Washington, D.C.) 1860-1862, July 29, 1861
View attachment 299299
Possible evidence of a cover up...? The evidence is overwhelming that Blacks, & Indians were in fact, employed in the service of the CS Army, & Navy. Perhaps the early timing of the inquiry is responsible (newspaper dated 29 July '61).
 
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Possible evidence of a cover up...? The evidence is overwhelming that Blacks, & Indians were in fact, employed in the service of the CS Army, & Navy. Perhaps the early timing of the inquiry is responsible (newspaper dated 29 July '61).
It's hard to say without knowing what Seward was using to reach his conclusion. It's fair to say that he could not just walk into the South and look for evidence, so I have to assume that reports by Union military from the field is all they could go on, and there would not be many of those at this point. I'm going to say it's probably the early date in the war that's the issue, though I would not put it past Seward to lie if he did know anything.
 
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In relation to Jgg's excellent thread "Why did Free Blacks stay in the Old South?",and in particular post #2 https://civilwartalk.com/threads/why-did-free-blacks-stay-in-the-old-south.155725/#post-2006632, I thought of a number of newspaper articles mentioning this population and sometimes what they did for a living. Here are a few examples.

Charleston Mercury January 3 1861
We learn that 150 able-bodied free colored men, of Charleston, yesterday offered their services gratuitously to the Governor, to hasten toward the important work of throwing up redoubts wherever needed along our coast.​
The North-Carolinian. volume (Fayetteville [N.C.]) 1839-1861, January 19, 1861
FREE MEN OF COLOR VOLUNTEERING.​
We learn that a large number of the free colored men of Columbia have offered their services, through the Mayor, to the Governor of the State. They say that to South Carolina do they owe allegiance, and to her do they look for protection, and they are willing to serve her in any capacity they may be assigned.​

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 would received in that campaign.​

Times Picayune (New Orleans, La), February 21, 1861
REPORT OF THE MILITARY BOARD. - We are under obligations to the Hon. John Laidlaw, of the Senate, for a copy of the special Report of the Military Board to the State Legislature.​
The report contains a recapitulation of the different measures adopted by the Board previous to the organization of the State Convention, which have, ere this, been made public.​
The Board makes an honorable mention of the fact that, among our free colored population, a large number of the old veterans of 1812, and their descendants, have volunteered their services to the State.​

Baton Rouge Tri-Weekly Gazette & Comet, April 20, 1861
THE FREE COLORED MEN. - A number of this class of our population, fully identified with us in all our interests, are inquiring to know what they can do to give evidence of their loyalty and devotion to the State under whose laws they live and enjoy protection in their lives and property. In answer, we can say on our own account, that they will be called upon at the proper moment, to give new evidence of that bravery and devotion for which they were distinguished when a foreign power invaded our domnion in '14 and '15.​

Nashville union and American. (Nashville, Tenn.) 1853-1862, April 25, 1861
COLORED PATRIOTISM. - Everybody knows BILL RAWLINSON, the good natured barber on Market Street. His wife, MARY, is now engaged in making up uniforms for the troops. Her brother (JIM DUNGE) is raising a company of free negroes to fight LINCOLN'S men, and BILL says if anybody will furnish him with a good leg, he can whip any ten Abolitionists, but even with one leg, he is willing to hobble out to the battle field, if the Governor wants his services.​
Yorkville enquirer. volume (None) 1855-2006, May 07, 1861
Two free men of color residing in Vicksburg, named Henry Lee and William Newman, have each given $250 in specie to the Confederate State Loan, and Lee has also contributed $25 towards equipping the Sharpshooters.​




 
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Southern newspapers had no problem publishing stories which demonstrated what the editors saw as black loyalty to the southern cause, and I think this anecdote where a black child imitates the soldiers he has probably seen marching, falls under that category. It could also be seen as promoting the idea that the entire South is on a war footing, and cannot be conquered, and even the children will be able to step up when their time comes.

Newbern weekly progress. [volume] (Newbern, N.C.) 1858-1863, July 02, 1861
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Here is a long commentary wherein the editor or writer talks about how low down and miserable southern slave owners are. The portions which are relevant for the topic of this thread are where he offers his opinion about the free black men of the South, and then relates a story about a partially black slave owner to try and give evidence for his opinions.

St. Cloud Democrat. (Saint Cloud, Stearns County, Minn.) 1858-1866, June 06, 1861
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Fremont daily journal. ([Fremont, Ohio]) 1861-1861, June 03, 1861
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From the OR, Series 1, Volume 4, p 569, we get some info about Magruder and the free black laborers. They may well have been conscripted to work, but they did not do so for nothing.

The first Confederate reports of the section states. "...I have had the whole country scoured to Hampton, and to within half a mile of the enemys camp at Newport News, and some 150 negroes brought up, the males to work on the fortifications and the rest delivered to their masters." The second and last report (by the same officer) states. "...I have called out a large force of negroes, at considerable expense to the Government, to complete the fortifications upon which our troops have been so laboriously working. The troops can no longer do this work, and I respectfully request that the Quartermaster-General be directed to furnish to the assistant quartermaster-general of this department, Captain Bloomfield, the funds necessary for the payment of the laborers without delay, as a great many of them are free negroes, who have families, who must starve if they are not paid, and to all I promised prompt payment. There are, perhaps, 1,000 now at work on the Peninsula...​
I am, general, very respectfully, &c.,​
J. BANKIIEAD MAGRUDER,
Brigadier- General, Commanding.​
Col. GEORGE DEAS, Adjutant-General C. S. Army."​
 
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We have here a southern reprint of a British account and a southern account that would seem to corroborate each other. The London Times reports a black man at Munson's Hill who fought, and the New Orleans paper describes "Big Tom", who took his master's place in the fight at Munson's Hill and who impressed the regiment. It's entirely possible that both accounts describe the same man.

The daily dispatch. (Richmond [Va.]) 1850-1884, November 30, 1861
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New Orleans daily crescent. December 20, 1861
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