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

Andersonh1

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Eighteen black men contribute $90 "for the relief of our soldiers in Virginia", with the request that the money go for clothing "or other necessaries". The newspaper calls this "another of the thousand instances" showing how the black population want to push back the Union army, the "thieving vandals".

Memphis daily appeal. (Memphis, Tenn.) 1847-1886, November 18, 1862
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Another paper calls the story about black Confederate soldiers manning forts false.

The Huntington Democrat, Thu Nov 20, 1862
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Andersonh1

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A report that Davis was considering slave emancipation to gain recognition from Europe leads to a discussion of what this type of action might look like. This Vermont paper seems sure that "if emancipation should appear to Jeff Davis to be the last and only means of insuring the success of the rebellion, he would declare the southern slaves free to-morrow. There can be no doubt of that."

Lamoille newsdealer. [volume] (Hyde Park, Vt.) 1860-1877, November 21, 1862
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Andersonh1

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Jordan Noble is held up as a patriotic example when he refuses to take the oath of allegiance to the United States and has his property seized by Benjamin Butler. Noble became "penniless, in the evening of his days, rather than yield obedience to a Government which has become an object of the contempt of the civilized world."

The Savannah Republican. (Savannah, Ga.) 1858-1865, November 21, 1862
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A writer at Beaufort SC claims that a Union "expedition" to Pocotaligo was defeated and soldiers killed "through the treachery of four rascally negroes" who had pretended to side with the Union troops, but which were seen "fighting in the ranks of the enemy" later on. The New South calls this whole story absurd, mocking the Northern papers for spreading it and commenting on it. The New South wants to know who it was who was able to get close enough to the Confederate lines to see these four black men.

The new South. [volume] (Port Royal, S.C.) 1862-1867, November 22, 1862
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Andersonh1

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This appears to be a shorter summation of the above story about black men in Savannah contributing financially for the support of the army.

American citizen. [volume] (Canton, Miss.) 1851-1863, November 28, 1862
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Alabama passed a law to impress 1/10th of the male slaves between 15 and 50 to work on coastal fortifications in Alabama.

The New York herald. (New York [N.Y.]) 1840-1920, December 01, 1862
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Andersonh1

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Two different papers print "proceedings of the Georgia Legislature" concerning impressing free black men "for the public defence".

Daily morning news. (Savannah, Ga.) 1850-1864, December 05, 1862
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The Confederate union. (Milledgeville, Ga.) 1862-1865, December 09, 1862
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The Confederate union. (Milledgeville, Ga.) 1862-1865, December 09, 1862
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Andersonh1

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More reporting on the same Georgia Senate discussion about impressing free black men "for the defences".

Weekly constitutionalist. (Augusta, Ga.) December 10, 1862
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Charles, a "faithful slave" of Captain Henry Persons, 3rd Georgia cavalry, was captured alongside Person, but refused to leave imprisonment when offered the chance. He left with him when the regiment was paroled. We're not told here where Charles and Capt. Persons were captured, but a brief unit history suggests it might have been at New Haven in Kentucky. Since the third Ga was formed in early summer 1862, and Charles died of "congestive chill" before December 1862, that leaves a narrow six month window of time for the capture and exchange to have taken place.

Yorkville enquirer. [volume] (Yorkville, S.C.) 1855-2006, December 10, 1862
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3rd Ga Cavalry: https://www.nps.gov/civilwar/search-battle-units-detail.htm?battleUnitCode=CGA0003RC01

3rd Cavalry Regiment was organized by Colonel M. J. Crawford and mustered into Confederate service at Athens, Georgia, during the early summer of 1862. Some of the men were from Rabun, Whitfield, and Cherokee counties. It fought in Kentucky with General Wheeler, but at New Haven most of the unit was captured. A detachment saw action at Murfreesboro and after those captured were exchanged, the command was assigned to J.J. Morrison's, C.C. Crews', and Iverson's Brigade. It participated in the campaigns of Chickamauga, Chattanooga, Knoxville, and Atlanta, was involved in Northern Alabama and Georgia, and in 1865 participated in various conflicts in the Carolinas. On April 26, 1865, it surrendered with the Army of Tennessee. Their field officers were Colonels Martin J. Crawford, Richard E. Kennon, and Robert Thompson; Lieutenant Colonel James T. Thornton; and Majors Daniel F. Booton and Hiram H. Johnson.​

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Persons

Joseph "Henry" Persons (January 30, 1834 – June 17, 1910) was an American politician, lawyer and soldier.​
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During the American Civil War, Persons served as a cavalry captain in the Third Georgia regiment of the Confederate States Army.​
 

Andersonh1

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Jordan Noble's plight is again mentioned in the newspapers. He would not take the oath of allegiance and saw his property confiscated.

Alexandria gazette. (Alexandria, D.C.) 1834-1974, December 13, 1862
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The Grenada MS Appeal argues that black men should be employed in the Confederate army as laborers, freeing the white soldiers to fight. "They can be employed as servants in our camps, as attendants in hospitals, as teamsters with our baggage trains, and in this way relieve thousands, and enable them to shoulder arms, thereby increasing our combatting strength to an extent that can scarcely be estimated."

The inspiration for this line of thinking? The fact that Alabama had already done this, and the Appeal notes that while the Confederate government can't take this step, the State governments can.

The Nashville daily union. [volume] (Nashville, Tenn.) 1862-1866, December 14, 1862
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Andersonh1

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Four slaves of Benj. Marrable who had been working on fortifications at Richmond came home and refused fresh clothing and shoes, asking that they be sent to the soldiers. "They had seen suffering soldiers, and it touched their hearts to compassion."

The newspaper then throws in some racist commentary in attempting to shame those profiting from the war by holding up the generous example of these four slaves. "Let many white men think of this."

Memphis daily appeal. (Memphis, Tenn.) 1847-1886, December 17, 1862
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A Union attack on St. Andrews bay Florida resulted in property damage and theft, including items taken from a free black man.

"One old negro, a free man, of "secesh" proclivities, was robbed by these vagabonds of every thing he had."

The daily sun. (Columbus, Ga.) 1855-1873, December 20, 1862
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Andersonh1

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We've reached the end of the press coverage of black Southerners for 1862.

The "faithful conduct" of the slaves during the battle of Fredericksburg is extolled by the Richmond Enquirer. The battle had taken place a few weeks before, and stories about slaves braving the bombardment of the town to save houses and other property from theft and destruction.

Richmond enquirer. (Richmond, Va.) 1815-1867, December 23, 1862
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"The Rebel Negro Regiment under A. S. Johnston" - a contraband claims that "the rebels" have been sending black families to Bowling Green to work in various capacities. The interesting part of the story is that "the best men [are] taken as soldiers, and the rest employed as servants and laborers." The black people thus taken did not care for the situation and wanted to escape, as you might imagine. And the white population were not exempt for this conscription. The picture painted is one of putting every last man, woman and child to work to fight the war in this area.

The New York herald. January 23, 1862
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Andersonh1

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"The sharpest comment upon this, we have seen, is contained in a brief statement of the Tribune, that the first battallion of colored men organized for this war was raised in New Orleans, to fight on the side of the slave-holders' rebellion, under the authority of Gov. Moore of Louisiana. Is it a law of civilized warfare that slaveholders and rebels alone may arm and use negroes?"

Rutland weekly herald. [volume] (Rutland, Vt.) 1859-1877, January 01, 1863
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Andersonh1

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I love the name of this newspaper.

"What would the slave sympathizers, Harriet B. Stowe, H. Greely, and the host of freedom shriekers' say if they knew that a negro slave, for the sake of his master, had voluntarily gone into a Northern prison, and there endured hardships and privations for long weary months - in preference to the "blessed freedom" the Yankee fanatics held out with such flattering inducements?"

The article goes on and does not give the young man's name, but he was 17 years old, from Alabama, and spent time in Camp Butler with the Island no. 10 prisoners. The slave had gone to war with his owner's son, and during the siege of Island No. 10 had sometimes "manned the guns" and "rendered valuable assistance to the soldiers." When captured he "took advantage of his rather light complexion", picked up a musket and passed himself off as a soldier. He was captured and taken to a pow camp. He was eventually exchanged and was able to find "his young master."

The Southern field and fireside. (Augusta, Ga.) 1859-1864, January 03, 1863
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Andersonh1

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The Emancipation Proclamation and Davis's response are contrasted, and in analyzing how both sides have employed black men on their behalf, the writer notes that the Confederates have used black men to fight and to labor, so the only difference between the two sides is that the Union also proposes to free them.

"Now it is notorious that negroes have been used as laborers by the rebels from the very beginning of the war; they, too, set us the example of using them as soldiers..."

Rutland weekly herald. (Rutland, Vt.) 1859-1877, January 08, 1863
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Andersonh1

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We're in the early days of full implementation of the recruitment of black troops for the Union army, and a good many newspapers were busy reminding readers that the Confederates had black soldiers first. This particular report correctly states that Benjamin Butler used the orders that kept the Native Guard in existence to recruit his own black troops in New Orleans.

The daily Evansville journal. (Evansville, Ind.) 1862-1863, January 08, 1863
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"The rebels arm negroes whenever they dare trust them in the service of treason, and employ them in every possible way where they can be made useful to the rebellion," so Davis is being hypocritical by objecting to their employment by the Union.


The daily Green Mountain freeman. (Montpelier, Vt.) 1861-1865, January 12, 1863
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Andersonh1

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The Governor wants to essentially conscript free black men and put them to work on fortifications. I have to wonder if part of the motivation here is to prevent these men from being recruited by the Union army, since we're talking about "portions of the State which have been overrun by the enemy."

Staunton spectator. (Staunton, Va.) 1849-1896, January 13, 1863
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"Rebel Negro Sharpshooters and their Daring" is the headline.

"A NEGRO SHARPSHOOTER
On our right a negro sharpshooter has been observed whose exploits are deserving of notice. He mounts a breastwork regardless of all danger, and, getting sight of a federal soldier, draws up his musket at arm's length and fires, never failing in hitting his mark. It is said that Colonel Wyman was shot by a negro, but this lacks confirmation. It is certain that negroes are fighting here, though probably only as sharpshooters."


The New York herald. (New York [N.Y.]) 1840-1920, January 15, 1863
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Andersonh1

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A steamer out of Memphis was raided after it had engine trouble, and among the raiders were "three negroes with revolvers and shot guns". After the boat was taken upriver they were joined by "fifty mounted men under command of Captain J. H. McGhee", who we know a little more about.

J. H. McGhee: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/44th_Arkansas_Infantry_(Mounted)

Weekly national intelligencer. (Washington [D.C.]) 1841-1869, January 17, 1863
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An officer (unnamed, sadly) under Banks' command writes that black men work the Confederate cannons at Port Hudson.

The Nashville daily union. (Nashville, Tenn.) 1862-1866, January 27, 1863
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Andersonh1

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Here's a longer version of the report that includes mention of black men working the artillery at Port Hudson. We still don't get the name of the officer serving under Banks, but at least this report mentions that his account came from a letter that he had written.

Rutland weekly herald. (Rutland, Vt.) 1859-1877, January 29, 1863
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Andersonh1

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Georgia discusses the possibilities of allowing the governor to impress black labor and how much these men should be paid.

Southern recorder. (Milledgeville, Ga.) 1820-1872, January 27, 1863
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North Carolina discusses free black men enrolled as cooks in the army.

Weekly standard. [volume] (Raleigh, N.C.) 1858-1865, February 04, 1863
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Andersonh1

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We regularly see a paragraph like the highlighted one below where the various ways in which black men have been employed by the Confederate army are listed. Here the list includes:
- building fortifications
- aiding the white soldiers in every conceivable way
- guarding Union prisoners
- picket duty
- used as sharpshooters
- "drilled men"
- other unspecified ways of prosecuting the war effort

The Nashville daily union. (Nashville, Tenn.) 1862-1866, February 06, 1863
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The black artillerists at Port Hudson story continues to be reprinted. I won't post every example, but it's worth a reminder here that many of these stories were spread far and wide and not confined to any one geographic region.

Gallipolis journal. (Gallipolis, Ohio) 1837-1919, February 05, 1863
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