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

Andersonh1

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Breaking from the chronological format, I found this story which addresses armed black "independent" Confederate scouts who "are in the habit of shooting at the enemy's pickets". There are stories about Union soldiers griping about being shot at by black men from the Southern side, and if this story is accurate, it explains who some of those men were. Not black men enlisted in the CS army, but armed independent scouts.

Nashville union and American. [volume] (Nashville, Tenn.) 1853-1862, October 04, 1861
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Andersonh1

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This sounds like a tall tale to me, when two white men and one black man hold off 500 Yankees when they try to cross a bridge.

Staunton spectator. [volume] (Staunton, Va.) 1849-1896, June 25, 1861
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Not all escapes into Union lines went well...

Semi-weekly standard. [volume] (Raleigh, N.C.) September 28, 1861
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A black wagon driver rode through enemy fire and lost one of his mules in the process, an act of bravery and determination that got the attention of General Bragg.

Sugar planter. [volume] (West Baton Rouge [i.e. Port Allen, West Baton Rouge Parish, La.]) 1856-1925, December 07, 1861
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Andersonh1

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Gov. Yates paints a rosy picture of the war effort, and notes as part of his speech that "the rebels" "arm negroes and merciless savages in their behalf." Keep in mind this is a recruitment speech in response to Lincoln's call for 300,000 more troops, so black Confederates should make people angry enough to want to enlist in the Union army to put a stop to the practice.

Cleveland morning leader. (Cleveland [Ohio]) 1854-1865, July 17, 1862
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"The rebels had a negro sharp-shooter who has much annoyed our men."

Bellows Falls times. (Bellows Falls, Vt.) 1856-1965, July 18, 1862
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Andersonh1

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An escaped free black man who was impressed by the Confederates give his account of what has happened in Virginia. His account is not entirely accurate, to say the least. There is also a discussion about a Confederate debate to arm the black population.

Evening star. (Washington, D.C.) 1854-1972, July 19, 1862
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Andersonh1

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A "negro boy" helped portions of the Confederate army cross a river and retreat after a battle at Newbern, NC. It's possible that musician B. F. Johnson of Company B was also black, since many musicians with the Confederate army were, but I have not been able to confirm that yet.

Semi-weekly standard. (Raleigh, N.C.) July 23, 1862
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Andersonh1

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A planter arms his slaves to prevent his cotton from being destroyed. I wonder if that means the Union army took it?

Rutland weekly herald. (Rutland, Vt.) 1859-1877, July 24, 1862
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The "colored membership" of Camden Baptist Church took up a collection for relief of sick and wounded soldiers.

The Camden confederate. (Camden, S.C.) 1861-1865, July 25, 1862
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Andersonh1

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A non-infantry enlisted black man is referred to as a soldier by a Southern newspaper during the war. Charles Benger enlisted as a musician, a fifer, served a year, and got his honorable discharge. The discharge orders from his captain refer to Charlie as "a patriotic and faithful negro" who "deserves good treatment at the hands" of all Southerners.

Macon Daily Telegraph July 28 1862
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Another printing of the story of Nathan, a slave who escaped the Union camp and brought back two horses (one of which he sold for $50) includes an editorial comment praising the "faithfulness and devotion" of the slaves.

Southern Watchman, Jul. 30, 1862
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Andersonh1

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One thing that looking at this press coverage as a whole will do is make certain trends in reporting more evident than is apparent. The first six months of 1861 were largely home-front stories of black men who volunteered to work or fight, stories of black men donating financially, the free black men of Louisiana forming their military unit, and a few stories of how slaves were put to work in various locations, though slavery was clearly not as newsworthy as the actions of the free black population. Once the actual skirmishing and shooting started, while the press is still printing stories from the earlier categories, the focus shifts primarily to battlefield reports. Most Southern papers report individual black men with the CS army participating in battles, usually slaves, while Northern papers report being shot at by black men or seeing them as pickets, or discussing the contrabands as some escape to Northern lines. In other words, the emphasis of the press changes from the home front to the battlefield, understandably so.

We're about to hit another shift in emphasis as the Union finally employs black soldiers on a permanent basis from this point onward. There were abortive attempts prior to Benjamin Butler's regiment, but they did not last for one reason or another. The press will continue to report Southern black combatants, and they will often point out to critics of black Union soldiers that "the South had them first." We've seen lots of stories where newspapers complained that the South had black troops while the North did not, now the common refrain will be "If you don't approve of black Union troops, remember that the Confederates had black troops first."

This is a fine example, and this story or variants will run in a number of newspapers. Benjamin Butler, in forming his unit of black soldiers, quotes the Confederate governor's orders from March 1862 authorizing the continued existence of the 1st Louisiana Native Guard. Butler, perhaps a bit condescending here, uses Moore's own language about loyalty and patriotism to recruit for the Union.

Rutland weekly herald. (Rutland, Vt.) 1859-1877, September 04, 1862
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