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

Andersonh1

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The old report about "two negro regiments" in the "rebel" army leads to a typical complaint about all that the black men do for the Confederates, including "building forts and carrying muskets" and shooting down Union soldiers.

The national Republican. (Washington, D.C.) 1860-1862, May 29, 1862
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Jack Thomas's race is not mentioned here, but he was listed as black in the census. He was included in this Tribute of Respect to the dead of this Tennessee Cavalry unit.

Thanks to east tennessee roots for the information:

He's a "Free Person of Color" in the 1850 & 1860 census of Polk County, TN.

3. Jack Thomas
United States Census, 1860
Name Jack Thomas
Event Type Census
Event Date 1860
Event Place 5th District, Polk, Tennessee, United States
Gender Male
Age 43
Race Black
Race (Original) Black

Birth Year (Estimated) 1817
Birthplace Georgia
Page 97

The Athens post. (Athens, Tenn.) 1848-1917, May 30, 1862
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Andersonh1

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This is a very early call to arm the slaves by a Southern newspaper, a year and two months into the war. They're calling for 10,000 rather than the 200,000 or 300,000 we'll see in 1864.

The daily Gate City. [volume] (Keokuk, Iowa) 1855-1916, June 02, 1862
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This is a sad example of cruelty on the part of some unnamed government officials, as some free black teamsters deserted the Confederate army and their families were arrested, leading to the deaths of some of the children, with more expected by the newspaper writer.

The national Republican. (Washington, D.C.) 1860-1862, June 03, 1862
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Andersonh1

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The Congress introduced an act to enlist cooks, white or black, free or slave (slave with the owner's permission only), with the head cook paid $20 a month and others paid $15. I think that's more than the average enlisted man made? We've seen some of these men, no doubt, on the thread that collects muster rolls of black men in the Confederate army.

Arkansas true Democrat. [volume] (Little Rock, Ark.) 1857-1862, June 05, 1862
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Andersonh1

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This is yet another gripe that Southern armies use "negro regiments" while the North is not allowed to do the same. We've seen many variations on this same gripe. Think about this in context with all the articles seen over the past year and a half, or even the year and two months since the war started. Is it surprising that people would accept this claim of black Southern troops? They've seen stories for a year and a half, first about black support for the war in terms of volunteering to work and fight, and giving money to the war effort. That was followed by reports of black men in the field, as individuals and as groups. Taken in isolation, this article might seem strange to the modern reader, but taken in context with everything that's come before, it makes a lot of sense why this would seem credible to the writers and consumers of news during the war.

Marshall County Republican. (Plymouth, Ind.) 1856-1878, June 05, 1862
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Andersonh1

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This editorial refers to the same Atlanta Confederacy article that the June 02, 1862 Daily Gate City, from a few posts ago, was also referring to. The "Atlanta rebel paper" urged "the arming of negroes to fight the Yankees." This editorial wonders why the many papers that reported this call to arm Southern black men did not get more criticism from papers who constantly criticize the call to arm Northern black men to fight.

Daily Nashville union. (Nashville, Tenn.) 1862-1862, June 06, 1862
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We get the date the original article was published with this commentary, which basically uses an ad hominem attack on the editor to declare his argument not worth considering. I have not been able to find the original Atlanta Confederacy article yet, just various other newspapers quoting it and commenting on it. It's interesting to see a Southern newspaper recommending the arming of slaves only 13 months after the war began, long before Cleburne's call to arm the slaves in January 1864 or the fall 1864 debate we're probably more familiar with.

The New York herald. [volume] (New York [N.Y.]) 1840-1920, May 29, 1862
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Andersonh1

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This is a reprinted article, in a Louisiana newspaper, which makes no objection to the idea that the Confederates plan to "enroll and arm the negroes". "They have been employed in the ranks by the Confederates themselves"

The Semi-weekly Shreveport news. (Shreveport [La.]) 1862-1864, June 06, 1862
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Another newspaper notes and comments on the Atlanta paper recommending "the arming of the slaves to fight the Yankees".

Lewistown gazette. (Lewistown, Pa.) 1843-1944, June 11, 1862
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19thGeorgia

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Chattanooga Daily Rebel, November 5, 1862:

"Latest from New Orleans.
...Many persons were leaving the city who had not taken the oath. They were obliged to use every strategy and means to obtain passes, and with the powerful aid of the almighty dollar, they generally succeeded. It was rumored and believed that Butler intended to send out of the city those who had, in the face of all intimidations, taken certificates declaring themselves "enemies" of the United States, and among this class, strange as it may appear, were many free colored citizens."

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Andersonh1

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That story brought to mind a few from late 1862 and early 1863 about Jordan Noble, one of those "free colored citizens" of New Orleans. This is one example of a story that appeared in multiple newspapers. He had his property confiscated because he would not take the oath of allegiance.

Alexandria gazette. (Alexandria, D.C.) 1834-1974, December 13, 1862
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Andersonh1

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The Richmond Whig "complains of the cruelty" that some provost marshals are visiting upon slaves, and says they are "entitled to some trial" if they've broken some law or rule. The writer says that the conduct of most of the slaves has been good, and that while some have "absconded" in the hopes of "improving their condition", there has been no general conspiracy. "We trust the provost marshal will inquire rigidly into cases of alleged injury."

Daily Nashville union. (Nashville, Tenn.) 1862-1862, June 12, 1862
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The number was actually 10,000 in the original story, to fight 15,000 Yankees, so the editor of the Burlington Free Press needed to be a bit more careful in his reading before he summarized.

Burlington free press. [volume] (Burlington, Vt.) 1827-1865, June 13, 1862
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Andersonh1

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The National Republican gets a dig in at "rebel" hypocrisy in war and love. I need to research what order this article is referring to, but the point the paper is making is that by now, Confederate use of black or mixed-race men as part of the war effort is only to be expected. They may gripe about black soldiers, but they don't really mean it.

The national Republican. (Washington, D.C.) 1860-1862, June 13, 1862
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This SC paper addresses arming black men, and while the writer says he has confidence that the slaves were loyal and would fight well, teaching them "the art of war" was not a good idea. It might cause trouble for the owners later on. In contrast with the Atlanta paper advocating the arming of slaves, which this editorial is probably responding to, this newspaper's point of view is plainly stated: let the white men do the fighting.

Yorkville enquirer. volume (None) 1855-2006, June 13, 1861
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Andersonh1

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A lengthy account of a Confederate raid near White House, Va., contains an incident where a man named Bryan Potter was shot "by a negro in uniform" with the Confederate raiders. Several black men were seen with a raiding group "formed from the farmers and negroes" of the area.

The New York herald. June 17, 1862
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Andersonh1

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This is a story where "contrabands" were used as a sort of Trojan horse to allow a boatload of Confederates to get close enough to take a few shots at some Union pickets. We are given "a correspondent of one of the Northern papers" as the source, but nothing else.

Alexandria gazette. (Alexandria, D.C.) 1834-1974, June 23, 1862
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I posted this and immediately wondered what the context was. I'm going to have to go back and save the entire article. Regardless, a discussion of the pros and cons on enlisting black men in the Union army gives us the reasoning that if the Union does not do so, "the rebels will", and in fact already have begun to do so. We've read stories of both examples before: black sharpshooters and black regiments "armed against us." The Atlanta newspaper editorial arguing for arming 10,000 slaves is referenced here. Whoever wrote this is clearly very familiar with the press coverage of this topic.

Delaware gazette. [volume] (Delaware, Ohio) 1855-1886, June 27, 1862
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Andersonh1

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I wonder if those today who express this opinion think they're being original and uncovering some hidden truth of history? And yet here it is in June 1862.

"Slaves bear arms in the Southern armies, build the fortifications, raise food for those in the field; and were it not for the slaves their armies could not contend against us three months; in short, their capital in this war - their entire means of operation - are wholly made up from the labor of and property in slaves."

The Hancock Jeffersonian. (Findlay, Ohio) 1857-1870, June 27, 1862
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Andersonh1

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I'm curious as to where the Evansville Journal got the idea that "mulattoes" would be added to the Confederate army. The Evansville Gazette throws out some racist reactions that the problem is not mixed-race soldiers, but the idea that enlisting them would mean equality or that black men were better. This is an argument between two Northern papers, take note, and we all know that racism was just as prevalent in the North as it was in the South at this time, but it still might come as a suprise to some readers. The Journal comes back and responds that the Gazette is a "rebel sympathizer" which is really all for arming black soldiers, gives examples of black soldiers overseas that are competent and dangerous, and then notes that some of "our friends" "were shot by negroes in the rebel service" in Virginia. Firsthand knowledge?

The daily Evansville journal. (Evansville, Ind.) 1862-1863, June 30, 1862
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Andersonh1

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The battle of Shiloh took place back in early April, three months earlier. How this "Chicago printer" observed the battle or ended up in a Macon jail is not stated. There were embedded press during the war, so it's possible that he was one of them. Regardless, he describes the sounds of thousands of muskets firing ("like an immense waterfall"), the sheer amount of the dead, wounded men burning to death, and "the number of dead negroes lying about in secesh uniform." He says he has personally seen black men with guns in their hands acting as sentries.

The Hillsdale standard. (Hillsdale, Mich.) 1851-1909, July 01, 1862
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The Rutland Herald builds an editorial off the comments of representative W. A. Richardson of Illinois against black soldiers. We're back to the usual gripe that while the North will not employ black soldiers, the South has been doing so all along.

"The evidence is indisputable that the rebels have armed their negroes, and placed them in the ranks with white men. They have been employed as artillerists, and have often been pushed into the most dangerous positions."

Rutland weekly herald. (Rutland, Vt.) 1859-1877, July 03, 1862
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Andersonh1

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Southern papers were the ones to run these "faithful servant" type of story, which makes sense since they would have had more access to stories from members of the Confederate army than the Northern papers would have. General Rhodes was wounded, and ordered a slave from Arkansas named Archie, "manfully fighting behind his master" to go and get him some water from a well. Archie did so, under fire.

In a second incident, Archie is said to have volunteered to go back behind the lines and bring back ammunition for the companies, which caused the "whole brigade" to cheer for him and his efforts. "Such deeds speak for themselves" the paper says.

Wilmington journal. [volume] (Wilmington, N.C.) 1844-1895, July 03, 1862
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"Capt. Milligan" might be James Milligan of the Confederate Signal corps. I'm not sure if his arrival is related to the story of the free black men acting as scouts, or if this is just a bunch of news items all in one column.

The daily sun. (Columbus, Ga.) 1855-1873, July 04, 1862
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Andersonh1

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Black men are captured by Union cavalry and since they've been "employed by the Confederates", now that the Union has them they'll be put to work for them.

Memphis daily appeal. (Memphis, Tenn.) 1847-1886, July 10, 1862
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This article is months out of date, and makes me wonder how timely the news that Hawaii got really was.

The Pacific commercial advertiser. (Honolulu, Hawaiian Islands) 1856-1888, July 10, 1862
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Andersonh1

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The Ohio Statesman objects to arming black Union soldiers, and complains about "Republican Abolitionism", envisioning a fight between black men on the Northern and Southern sides, killing each other and making the abolitionists happy in the process.

Daily Ohio statesman. [volume], July 12, 1862
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A slave named Nathan was captured and taken to the Union camp, but used the opportunity of getting water to return to the Confederate lines, along with two horses he took from the Yankees. We've seen stories of black men escaping from the Southern lines and taking refuge with the Union army, and it should come as no surprise to see the opposite happen as well. The editorial view is the usual "look how faithful our slaves are" type of commentary.

Augusta Daily Constitutionalist, July 13, 1862
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