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

jgoodguy

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Was there recruitment under the March 1865 law taking place in Savannah? This report would seem to indicate that it was.

Southern Recorder. (Milledgeville, Ga.) 1820-1872, March 21, 1865
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Law passed March 13. This is 8 days later. Could be also the anticipation of recruiting, garbled reports of the Richmond enlistments, or simply rumors. 8 days seems a bit short for the needed organization, paperwork, and bureaucracy to have black feet in infantry boots drilling. Look for confirmation reporting of the actual drilling Richmond newspapers did report on the black recruits. Also, newspaper reports telling where black recruits are supposed to enlist like the Richmond papers.
 
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Andersonh1

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Savannah was under Union control at the time. Those being drilled were USCT.
That was my guess as well, once I started thinking about it. It makes you wonder about the veracity of the report from the Tri-Weekly Herald about some black men being sent to Cuba to be sold. I can't see Union military in 1865 allowing that.
 

Andersonh1

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If some of the names in this article look familiar, I've posted about this skirmish before, and east tennessee roots has provided some information about Drake DeKay. For such a minor fight, it got a lot of coverage in the newspapers in late 1861 and early 1862.

It's also worth pointing out that the initial reports listed 70 black soldiers, not 700, so there's some distortion of the story as it got passed around.

The second paragraph shows us that the writer of this story was familiar with the other newspaper reports about black combatants at Manassas, at Memphis and in New Orleans, but "did not believe it until it came so near home."

Chicago daily tribune. (Chicago, Ill.) 1860-1864, December 30, 1861
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Andersonh1

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This same article appeared in several different papers in reference to the New Market Bridge skirmish. Notice this report claims a much more down to earth "fifty negroes", rather than 700. The Union papers call the location "Little Bethel" while the Confederate papers refer to "the New Market Bridge", so we get the usual different name, depending on which side is describing the battle. Also, it's a "skirmish" to the northern papers, but a "fight" to the southern ones.

It's also interesting to note that the northern papers claim that dead black soldiers were removed from the field, while the southern papers omit that, and claim the black soldiers fought better than their fellow soldiers. That's not a claim I'd expect to see in Confederate newspapers, though they're admittedly attributing it to the unnamed officer.

Cincinnati daily press. (Cincinnati [Ohio]) 1860-1862, January 13, 1862
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Chicago daily tribune. (Chicago, Ill.) 1860-1864, January 13, 1862
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Memphis daily appeal. (Memphis, Tenn.) 1847-1886, January 22, 1862
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The south-western. (Shreveport, La.) 1852-1870, January 29, 1862
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Andersonh1

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Post-war article. I'm starting to re-think my original rule to just stick with wartime reports. These post-war stories often have a lot of specific information in them worth researching.

"... the negroes in question were free at the time of the Civil War and had enlisted voluntarily."

Broad Ax - Salt Lake City, Utah, May 5, 1917
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19thGeorgia

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Note in this 1915 article the use of the term "black confederate", who is also called a "veteran".

The Topeka state journal. (Topeka, Kan.) 1892-1980, October 18, 1915
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Jefferson Stone, Co. K, 1st Arkansas Mounted Rifles
Record agrees with news article- Entered the service as corporal and later promoted to captain. Killed at the Battle of Chickamauga.

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Andersonh1

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This is a large image and a long article, which got printed for six or eight weeks in a row in the paper.

"...this important document was drawn up on the 15th of March, 1865, less than a month before General Lee's surrender, and at a time when every available man, black and white, was needed at the "front". Gen. Lee indorsed it on the 27th, and it was returned to Adjutant Newman too late to be made of any service. On the 2d of April, a week later, the Adjutant was captured at Fort Gregg, near Petersburg, having this document and other important official papers in his possession."

The Vancouver independent. (Vancouver, W.T. [Wash.]) 1875-1910, October 02, 1879
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Andersonh1

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Have a look at Eli Pickett's story. He was a free black men who joined an artillery company and was badly wounded while serving in the Army of Tennesee. When he applied for a pension he was initially turned down "because the Confederate States did not authorize the enlistment of negroes and consequently he never was a Confederate soldier and had no rights as such." But his white friends stood up for him and tried to get him a pension. I will see if I can find any record of whether or not they succeeded.

The Times-Picayune, 10 Aug 1889
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