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

Andersonh1

Brigadier General
Moderator
Joined
Jan 12, 2016
Location
South Carolina
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
xMOwEbf.jpg


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
77hrCuw.png
 

Andersonh1

Brigadier General
Moderator
Joined
Jan 12, 2016
Location
South Carolina
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
wj3s46H.jpg
 

Andersonh1

Brigadier General
Moderator
Joined
Jan 12, 2016
Location
South Carolina
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
CsJbOHe.jpg


Not all escapes into Union lines went well...

Semi-weekly standard. [volume] (Raleigh, N.C.) September 28, 1861
w71HC3I.jpg


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
lYHvwYj.jpg
 

Andersonh1

Brigadier General
Moderator
Joined
Jan 12, 2016
Location
South Carolina
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
tQcaIw6.jpg


"The rebels had a negro sharp-shooter who has much annoyed our men."

Bellows Falls times. (Bellows Falls, Vt.) 1856-1965, July 18, 1862
n1OnPZi.jpg
 

Andersonh1

Brigadier General
Moderator
Joined
Jan 12, 2016
Location
South Carolina
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
y4Seyet.jpg
 

Andersonh1

Brigadier General
Moderator
Joined
Jan 12, 2016
Location
South Carolina
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
DtckoxT.jpg
 

Andersonh1

Brigadier General
Moderator
Joined
Jan 12, 2016
Location
South Carolina
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
VovCcNj.jpg


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
nNX1Twd.jpg
 

Andersonh1

Brigadier General
Moderator
Joined
Jan 12, 2016
Location
South Carolina
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
Q8kuOGY.jpg


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
bjck6bS.jpg
 

Andersonh1

Brigadier General
Moderator
Joined
Jan 12, 2016
Location
South Carolina
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
h3OKntQ.jpg
 

Andersonh1

Brigadier General
Moderator
Joined
Jan 12, 2016
Location
South Carolina
This want ad for black men to act as cooks promises $20 per month to the head cook and $15 a month to the others (more than the soldiers made) with "the same rations, clothing and medical attention as soldiers." No exposure to danger.

The Savannah Republican. (Savannah, Ga.) 1858-1865, August 05, 1862
adBWjbt.jpg


Once again, we see griping about the fact that an outcry against the North using slaves to fight has been raised, but no such similar complaints have been raised about Southern use of slaves. The Locofocos were a faction of the Democrat party: https://www.britannica.com/topic/Locofoco-Party

The Potter journal. (Coudersport, Pa.) 1857-1872, August 06, 1862
d6jZyTO.jpg
 

Andersonh1

Brigadier General
Moderator
Joined
Jan 12, 2016
Location
South Carolina
I keep digging up new articles and editorials on this topic, so I'm departing from the chronological order again for another new editorial. Overall it's more of what we've seen before: a complaint that the North will not allow black troops while the South will, though this writer gives a few more examples and discusses a bit more of the thinking North and South that has led to the current situation.

Holmes County Republican. [volume] (Millersburg, Holmes County, Ohio) 1856-1865, December 12, 1861
dZyQBhe.jpg
 

Andersonh1

Brigadier General
Moderator
Joined
Jan 12, 2016
Location
South Carolina
Slave owners in Lee county were unwilling to allow their slaves to be impressed unless the War Department had authorized it.

The central Georgian. (Sandersville, Ga.) 1847-1874, August 13, 1862
DyVbPka.jpg


I posted that September article about Butler a bit early, because just a few weeks earlier he was against black soldiers for the Union and arguing with Phelps about it. The paper notes that while Butler is against black Union troops, "nobody denies that rebel black regiments" were present in New Orleans prior to the Union capture of the city.

The national Republican. [volume] (Washington, D.C.) 1860-1862, August 15, 1862
N9TpIVx.jpg
 

Andersonh1

Brigadier General
Moderator
Joined
Jan 12, 2016
Location
South Carolina
William Sprague was governor of Rhode Island from 1860-1863, and acted as an aide to Burnside during first Manassas, and actually had his horse shot out from under him. It may well be that the incident he refers to with slaves firing cannons occurred during that battle, since we've seen other accounts from Manassas mentioning slaves firing artillery, as well as firsthand testimony from one who escaped to Union lines.

The New York herald. (New York [N.Y.]) 1840-1920, August 18, 1862
PDoCA06.jpg


This correspondence between John Breckenridge and Halbert Paine where Paine mentioned "a corp of blacks" fighting against the Union troops appeared in a number of newspapers, so we'll see it again.

Daily Delta (New Orleans, La), August 19, 1862
FITE5VG.jpg
 

Andersonh1

Brigadier General
Moderator
Joined
Jan 12, 2016
Location
South Carolina
Union prisoners are marched through Richmond and a black man refuses one a drink, complaining that they had drove him from home and he wanted nothing to do with them. He explains that the Union army burned his house, took all the livestock and ran "massa and missus" away. "This is no fancy sketch" the writer says. "but an actual occurrence."

Wilmington journal. (Wilmington, N.C.) 1844-1895, August 21, 1862
y8uJFAJ.jpg


The Athens post predicts a Southern response if the Union arms black troops. "We may expect... some two hundred and fifty thousand negro rebels in arms...."

The Athens post. (Athens, Tenn.) 1848-1917, August 22, 1862
OfxdT45.jpg
 
Top