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

Andersonh1

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Nobody believed in black Confederates until the 1970s, obviously.

"It has been known for months that the rebel army, at Richmond, have employed negroes as sharp-shooters to kill our pickets, and numbers of them have been shot by our soldiers. In the late battles on the Rappahannock, quite a number of negroes were killed in the rebel ranks."

Keep in mind that I'm not cherry picking stories in this thread, or posting rare, isolated articles. With the exceptions of identical reprints of a story, I put just about everything I find in the thread so anyone who cares to do so can see the context. I have 930 stories from 1861, and this is the 352nd story from 1862, going by the files I have in my newspaper clipping folders, so we're not even halfway through the war yet and discussion of the role black men and women were playing in the war has taken up over 1200 articles so far. No doubt that's a small percentage of the total press coverage of all events during the war, but it's not an insignificant number. It clearly demonstrates that the idea of black Confederates existed during the war and that it is not a modern invention.

The Nashville daily union. (Nashville, Tenn.) 1862-1866, September 02, 1862
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General Wilcox details the many roles most black men played in the Confederate army, and estimates the number per regiment. He also estimates that the total number in all roles makes up about 7% of the army. He does not mention black men in combat, only in support roles, which no doubt was true for the vast majority.

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

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The newspapers begin to report that Benjamin Butler is recruiting black troops for the Union army. Almost every time, they will point out that he's just following the example of the Confederates. We'll see that theme for a number of months, any time someone complains about how awful it is that the Union is beginning to enlist black troops, a newspaper will remind its readers that the Confederates did it first.

Alexandria gazette. (Alexandria, D.C.) 1834-1974, September 04, 1862
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This is another example Butler organized a battalion of "colored men" "on the basis prescribed by the secesh Governor Moore".

Evening star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.) 1854-1972, September 04, 1862
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Andersonh1

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Here is that correspondence between John Breckenridge and Halbert Paine where Paine says that he was informed that a "corps of blacks" fought against the Union at Baton Rouge. The news report at the time only mentioned one black man in the fight, and it's probable that Paine is just one-upping Breckenridge after he complained of the slaves being organized to fight against the Confederates, something Paine denies. It's the same "you did it first" or "you've done the same thing" idea we see with the stories about Benjamin Butler.

The daily dispatch. (Richmond [Va.]) 1850-1884, September 04, 1862
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Andersonh1

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And here is another instance of that report about the armed and equipped black man who fought with the Confederates at Baton Rouge.

Pomeroy weekly telegraph. volume (Pomeroy, Meigs County, Ohio) 1860-1866, September 05, 1862
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"Gen. Butler has evidently, by his quotation of the previous orders of Gov. Moore of Louisiana, stopped the mouths of the rebels from protesting against this arming of negroes."

In other words, Butler said "You armed them first, and here's the proof, so how can you complain when I do the same?"

The daily Green Mountain freeman. (Montpelier, Vt.) 1861-1865, September 05, 1862
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Andersonh1

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"The rebel governor of Louisiana having authorized the organization of regiments of free colored men, Gen. Butler accepts the regiments thus organized...."

Of course he didn't get the entire regiment, only about 10% switched sides, but the main point still stands. The newspapers who printed this story and others around this time about Butler's black troops all note that it was the "rebels" that authorized them first.

Chicago daily tribune. [volume] (Chicago, Ill.) 1860-1864, September 06, 1862
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Andersonh1

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An artillery company advertises for black cooks, who will get paid better than the soldiers. $20 per month for the chief cook and $15 per month for the others.

Daily morning news. (Savannah, Ga.) 1850-1864, September 06, 1862
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An observation of Confederate troops near Leesburg noted the black men with the column. "All the train horses and some of the artillery horses were driven by negroes. They were numerous also on foot, carrying bundles, baggage and truck of all kinds."

The national Republican. (Washington, D.C.) 1860-1862, September 06, 1862
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Andersonh1

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Once again, the Confederates did it first.

"Of course, being in the State militia, they [the Native Guard] were put into the service of the Confederate States, and as Confederate soldiers General Butler found them."

Cleveland morning leader. (Cleveland [Ohio]) 1854-1865, September 09, 1862
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Andersonh1

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Black labor is urgently needed in and around Charleston, and it appears that the slaves were organized into divisions to be called up when needed.

The Lancaster ledger. (Lancaster, S.C.) 1852-1905, September 10, 1862
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"The South has not shown so much reluctance to put arms into the hands of colored men, and to use them for military purposes, as have the people of the North."

"It has been very common for a class of persons and papers, not overburdened with a loyal spirit, to deny the facts here referred to - that the negroes have been used in the rebel war service - but the official order from which we have quoted - and which order is before us as we write - is authority on this point."

The Portland daily press. (Portland, Me.) 1862-1921, September 11, 1862
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Andersonh1

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Speaks for itself. The "rebels" wanted to secure the services of the "free colored militia of Louisiana" prior to Butler's attempt to recruit them.

Muscatine weekly journal. (Muscatine, Iowa) September 12, 1862 - posted
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The Confederate House looks into "authorizing the President to call out and place in the service of the Confederate States" all black men, "resident or owned" (so free or slave) between the ages of 20 and 30 years. The examples of this service are given as teamsters, cooks, nurses, laborers, etc.

The Semi-weekly Shreveport news. [volume] (Shreveport [La.]) 1862-1864, September 12, 1862
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Andersonh1

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An article which starts with what reads to me as a slightly mocking condemnation of John Morgan, Braxton Bragg and Kirby Smith for arming and equipping one hundred black soldiers soon moves into discussing the general possibility of the South arming slaves. They use examples of how black men have already fought in the war as evidence that such a move is possible, and then warn that this use of black troops may come back to bite the South, which is either a reference to the slaves turning on their owners, or the North employing black soldiers themselves.

The Nashville daily union. (Nashville, Tenn.) 1862-1866, September 17, 1862
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Andersonh1

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This is a far shorter version of the story excoriating Bragg, Buckner and Smith for decrying the arming of black soldiers when they've done that themselves.

The Nashville daily union. (Nashville, Tenn.) 1862-1866, September 19, 1862
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"The rebels themselves have set the precedent of arming and drilling negroes, and using them in every conceivable shape in the war against the Government... they employed a corps of negroes at the battle of Baton Rouge....."

The Nevada Democrat. [volume] (Nevada, Calif.) 1854-1863, September 25, 1862
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Andersonh1

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"You liked them fine when they were on your side, so what's wrong with black soldiers now?"

Burlington weekly hawk-eye. (Burlington [Iowa]) 1860-1876, September 27, 1862
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Butler's complete orders were printed in the Daily Delta, where he noted that the Native Guards, part of the "free colored population of the City of New Orleans" was "duly and legally enrolled as a part of the militia of the State", and Gov. Thomas Moore's orders commissioning officers for that group are quoted. Butler also quotes orders from 1862 praising the Native Guard for patriotism and loyalty. All of this is noted in the orders before Butler opens up the opportunity to serve on the Union side. So Butler himself cited Louisiana's use of black soldiers as precedent for arming black soldiers for the Union.

The Daily Delta Sat Sep_27 1862 - posted
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Andersonh1

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This article says that organized companies of black Confederate soldiers may or may not exist, but there are certainly black soldiers. The example cited is a black sharpshooter who fired on Union troops and was killed. "He was dressed in the regular gray uniform of the rebel soldiers, and was evidently an enlisted man." This is an addition, says the paper, "to the mountain of proof which we have already given" that the South is using black soldiers.

The Nashville daily union. (Nashville, Tenn.) 1862-1866, September 30, 1862
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Andersonh1

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"That the rebels would free their slaves and arm them for the overthrow of our Government if they dare to place arms in their hands needs no proof beyond what has already transpired."

Mineral Point weekly tribune. (Mineral Point, Wis.) 1859-1868, October 01, 1862
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Andersonh1

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"Negro Regiments in the Rebel Service" - This story will get a lot of page time and commentary. I have never been able to find the original Wilmington Journal article referred to in this story, the one that supposedly says seven "colored" regiments will garrison the town and fortifications "during the sickly season". I'd like to see the exact wording of that story.

The New York herald. [volume] (New York [N.Y.]) 1840-1920, October 05, 1862
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A local resident near Springfield, Kentucky, reports 4000 Confederates camped on his farm, who had "no less than a hundred negroes with them, all armed for military service."

Fremont journal. (Fremont, Sandusky County [Ohio]) 1853-1866, October 10, 1862
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Andersonh1

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These men weren't all "camp slaves". Here we see a want ad, not the first we've seen, wanting 12 black cooks to "enlist for the war", promising they'll be well paid for doing so.

Daily morning news. (Savannah, Ga.) 1850-1864, October 11, 1862
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I think I clipped this article at a time when I didn't always get the entire story for context, so I'm going to have to go back and get the whole thing. Regardless, a Mrs. Steiner had a chance to observe the Confederate army, and among other things "she saw negroes dressed in soldiers uniform and armed. Some were mounted and others on foot, serving in the ranks alongside of white men." According to her there was talk of arming the slaves if the amount of white men for the army ran short.

edit: According to the full article, the lady in question was a Mrs. Fanny R. Steiner, who had left home with her 18 month old child to visit her husband in camp. He was a "member of the 29th P. V." who was sick and at Williamsport Maryland. When the troops had to march suddenly, she ended up behind them and was captured, confined for a few days, and ultimately escaped and was able to return home. She witnessed the various things the article talks about, including the armed and uniformed black men, while being detained.

Gallipolis journal. (Gallipolis, Ohio) 1837-1919, October 16, 1862
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Andersonh1

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Another northerner held prisoner behind enemy lines tells what he witnessed at the battle of Shiloh. One of the "remarkable features" of the battle "was the number of dead negroes lying about in secesh uniform." The man also says he has seen armed black men acting as sentries.

White Cloud Kansas chief. (White Cloud, Kan.) 1857-1872, October 16, 1862
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A rather far-reaching conspiracy theory claims that the Confederates were about to abolish slavery and replace it with a feudal system as the first step in a far wider plan. All of this was supposedly in the works before the Emancipation Proclamation was "hurried out" to beat them to the punch. All of this is supposedly secretly done in cooperation with Europe, to damage the American republic. You can see why I called this a conspiracy theory!

Daily intelligencer. [volume] (Wheeling, Va. [W. Va.]) 1859-1865, October 21, 1862
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Andersonh1

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This newspaper entry seriously needs some context. What kind of service? Where in the South is this being recommended?

Alexandria gazette. (Alexandria, D.C.) 1834-1974, October 22, 1862
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The same critique applies here. Who in "the South" is "strongly recommending" this?

The national Republican. (Washington, D.C.) 1860-1862, October 22, 1862
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Andersonh1

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The usual "the South did it first" complaint is flipped in this story. Since the Yankees have "stolen tens of thousands of slaves" and use them for teamsters, laborers, etc., the South should start conscripting slaves as well. The slaveholders are against this, but the Richmond Examiner says that since the war is in large part being fought to defend his right to own property in slaves, he needs to step up and do more to help the war effort.

The New York herald. (New York [N.Y.]) 1840-1920, October 22, 1862
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There is a sarcastic tone to this story that makes me think that "confederate black boys" is this paper taking a jab at Stonewall's troops, but it could be a reference back to the story the previous year about Jackson supposedly recruiting black troops. I include it here as a curiousity if nothing else.

I'm not sure why "uncle Stonewall" would need to eat pudding to take a fort.

Orleans independent standard. (Irasburgh, Vt.) 1856-1871, October 24, 1862
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