Discussion Black Southerners and the Confederate Cause--What the newspapers said: 1861-1865

Andersonh1

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Duplication of evidence is not evidence of anything but duplication.

Agreed, but it does show that these stories could be widely reported and widely known. It's no wonder so many took the idea of the South arming black men seriously all during the war when reports like this appeared in so many newspapers.
 

jgoodguy

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Agreed, but it does show that these stories could be widely reported and widely known. It's no wonder so many took the idea of the South arming black men seriously all during the war when reports like this appeared in so many newspapers.
Interesting point.
 

jgoodguy

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There is such an enthusiastic tone to this article. As they say, "It is a great pity this had not been done before."

The New York herald. (New York [N.Y.]) 1840-1920, March 20, 1865
View attachment 252772

In general the military like the idea of just winning the war more than the politicians with political baggage. IMHO
 

Silverfox

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I've been trying to locate the communication mentioned here in the March 16, 1863 Cleveland morning leader, with no success so far. "The matter has been communicated to the authorities at Washington."

View attachment 231889

From my readings, it was quite common for scouts to be black on both sides if we are just proving the blacks served on both sides---My question is did blacks who served in whatever jobs receive Confederate pensions from the individual states and what were the numbers?
And is it even possible to find out? My point being that if in fact blacks served in substantial numbers---many of these numbers should show up in these pension numbers.
 
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From my readings, it was quite common for scouts to be black on both sides if we are just proving the blacks served on both sides---My question is did blacks who served in whatever jobs receive Confederate pensions from the individual states and what were the numbers?
And is it even possible to find out? My point being that if in fact blacks served in substantial numbers---many of these numbers should show up in these pension numbers.

Approximately 267 applied for a pension to the State of Tennessee. "Colored Man's Pension" distinguished them from "Soldiers Pension". Most were "Body-Servants" who accompanied their masters or master's sons. Some were "Free Persons of Color" that willingly attached themselves to a particular soldier, (usually an officer). Some were named on the muster rolls, most were not. Not all former Confederate States paid such pensions, Alabama and Georgia come to mind. Arkansas allowed these men to take up residence in Confederate Veteran homes if needed, but they had to relinquish their pensions back to the State. There were also occasionally a free man that served in the ranks. It's usually accepted that Holt Collier actually served as you say, as a scout and was many times in combat. The only type pension he could apply for though from Mississippi, was a Servant's Pension.
 
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From my readings, it was quite common for scouts to be black on both sides if we are just proving the blacks served on both sides---My question is did blacks who served in whatever jobs receive Confederate pensions from the individual states and what were the numbers?
And is it even possible to find out? My point being that if in fact blacks served in substantial numbers---many of these numbers should show up in these pension numbers.

Here's a post and entire thread that might interest you.

https://civilwartalk.com/threads/black-confederate-count.142783/page-40#post-1839611
 

Silverfox

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Approximately 267 applied for a pension to the State of Tennessee. "Colored Man's Pension" distinguished them from "Soldiers Pension". Most were "Body-Servants" who accompanied their masters or master's sons. Some were "Free Persons of Color" that willingly attached themselves to a particular soldier, (usually an officer). Some were named on the muster rolls, most were not. Not all former Confederate States paid such pensions, Alabama and Georgia come to mind. Arkansas allowed these men to take up residence in Confederate Veteran homes if needed, but they had to relinquish their pensions back to the State. There were also occasionally a free man that served in the ranks. It's usually accepted that Holt Collier actually served as you say, as a scout and was many times in combat. The only type pension he could apply for though from Mississippi, was a Servant's Pension.


Thanks for the info---about as I expected. Most of the pensions did not come about until 1890ish and many of the fellows had already expired. What total guess would there be for Blacks serving in the Confederate forces? Anyone have any ideas?
 

19thGeorgia

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From my readings, it was quite common for scouts to be black on both sides if we are just proving the blacks served on both sides---My question is did blacks who served in whatever jobs receive Confederate pensions from the individual states and what were the numbers?
Numbers I have seen for servants and laborers total about 4,000. A smaller number received soldier pensions - somewhere in the hundreds. They had to be "indigent" (no means of support) to receive a pension which was the same rule for whites.
 

ForeverFree

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From my readings, it was quite common for scouts to be black on both sides if we are just proving the blacks served on both sides---My question is did blacks who served in whatever jobs receive Confederate pensions from the individual states and what were the numbers?
And is it even possible to find out? My point being that if in fact blacks served in substantial numbers---many of these numbers should show up in these pension numbers.

Again, I would refer you to the article Looking for Bob: Black Confederate Pensioners After the Civil War By James G. Hollandsworth, Jr. It will answer many, not all, of your questions.

One thing to note is that the issuance of servant pensions varied from state to state. Several states did not enact pension laws for servants until the 1920s, by which time most of the former servants had passed away. The number who received pensions is much much less than the number who were actually servants. Servant pension records can give you a minimum number, but they represent a sample of the whole.

- Alan
 

19thGeorgia

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The states that had a specific law for awarding pensions to servants and laborers were Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi and Tennessee. Men in other states were granted pensions by a special act of their state legislature. I've seen a number for Texas that was over 700.
 

ForeverFree

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Agreed, but it does show that these stories could be widely reported and widely known. It's no wonder so many took the idea of the South arming black men seriously all during the war when reports like this appeared in so many newspapers.
The thing that has impressed me is how all-over-the-place these articles are. Some say there were black CSA soldiers, some advocate for such soldiers (seemingly under the assumption they did not already exist), some advocate for the continued exclusion of blacks from Confederate soldiery (seemingly under the assumption they did not already exist), some are taking articles from northern papers that clearly have no corroboration from Confederate officials. It's a mishmash.

The discussions you cite, focused on the notion of "black southerners and the Confederate cause," very often intersected with concurrent discussions of the thousands of runaway slaves during the war; the thousands of slaves who joined the US army; and the thousands who labored for the Union. Those discussions ~ which are well documented in the Official Record (versus a paucity of reporting of armed black Confederates in the OR by Confederate authorities themselves) ~ combine with these newspaper accounts to paint a picture of a white South that was in constant dialogue about the role of the Negro during the war, the fate of slavery, and ultimately, the future of the South.

The fact that an official law for enlisting slaves was not enacted until a month before Gen Lee surrendered tells me that despite so much discourse about arming slaves, the Confederacy (certainly its elected leaders) were, as a whole, unwilling to go beyond very limited numbers and very limited cases of armed blacks, unwilling to implement an armed-slave policy that would have a widespread and pervasive impact on Southern life. Black enlistment was basically a deathbed conversion, essentially stillborn.

Meanwhile, my main longing in these articles is for an understanding of what African Americans thought of all of this. In the many articles, African Americans are being talked about. Real time frank and open and honest comments from black southerners themselves concerning these notions of blacks and the Confederate cause is elusive. Even most post-war accounts are shrouded in the language of the master-slave relationship, the loyal slave ideal, and not the idea of the slave as a Confederate citizen. What did black southerners themselves think of all this talk? Did enslaved people, in any massive numbers, think an Emancipation Proclamation style breakthrough was coming, where they would all be freed, the men would become full fledged Confederate soldiers, and all blacks would be full fledged Confederate citizens? (This is what Northern blacks were hoping for, from their support of the Union.) If the answer to the last question is no, then what does that mean for the proposals or hopes or dreams of Confederates when talking about southern blacks supporting the Confederate cause?

- Alan
 
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Andersonh1

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The thing that has impressed me is how all-over-the-place these articles are. Some say there were black CSA soldiers, some advocate for such soldiers (seemingly under the assumption they did not already exist), some advocate for the continued exclusion of blacks from Confederate soldiery (seemingly under the assumption they did not already exist), some are taking articles from northern papers that clearly have no corroboration from Confederate officials. It's a mishmash.

What I hope to do, and have started to some extent, is to work out what the developing patterns are for the discussion in the newspapers of this topic. It seems more random than it is because I post things as I find them, but here's a rough estimate of how the subject seems to progress:

- 1861 starts out with plenty of stories about black southerners volunteering labor, giving money and offering to raise companies of free black men to fight, in addition to the 1500 men in New Orleans, and other black or mixed race companies in Louisiana, and a few other places around the South.
- the northern newspapers pick up on these, comment on them, and many complain about the north not using its free black population when the south is willing to do so. This is a common refrain from northern editorials in 1861 and 1862, to the point that when southerners complain about black northern troops, their own words or articles are often thrown back in their faces.
- in addition, there are stories and rumors about black participation for the south in 1st Manassas and some skirmishes, and stories about individual slaves who fought in various battles.

So by the end of the 1861, there is a general belief that black men, free and slave, are willing to fight for the south. The largest amount referenced is one or two regiments, or the 1,500 in New Orleans, so there is nothing I've found that is the equivalent of the USCT. 1862 has fewer volunteer stories about the South, but more stories about black men on picket duty, seen during a battle, and plenty of discussion. To me it seems as if a lot of discussion comes from the continued limited sightings and the overall impression carried over from all the press in 1861. Press accounts from early in the war are again referenced as evidence.

Those discussions ~ which are well documented in the Official Record (versus a paucity of reporting of armed black Confederates in the OR by Confederate authorities themselves) ~ combine with these newspaper accounts to paint a picture of a white South that was in constant dialogue about the role of the Negro during the war, the fate of slavery, and ultimately, the future of the South.

I agree. There was an ongoing debate north and south about what black participation in the war meant for the future of the South, almost from before the war even began. To the extent that anyone in the Confederate government knew about individual black participation in the ranks, I don't think it was an issue for them. But mass enlistment was another thing entirely.

The fact that an official law for enlisting slaves was not enacted until a month before Gen Lee surrendered tells me that despite so much discourse about arming slaves, the Confederacy (certainly its elected leaders) were, as a whole, unwilling to go beyond very limited numbers and very limited cases of armed blacks, unwilling to implement an armed-slave policy that would have a widespread and pervasive impact on Southern life.

I agree with this as well, and there is a certain point where the talk turns from discussion of "the South arming black men first" to "mass enlistment of slaves and what that would mean", and if I recall that discussion actually started in mid-1863 in a series of editorials. I can't help but think some of that discussion had to be because the USCT existed by that time, and it led people to believe that the South would have to respond, sooner or later.

Meanwhile, my main longing in these articles is for an understanding of what African Americans thought of all of this.

I was telling my wife the same thing while sorting some of these articles the other night. The biggest flaw in all this coverage is just how little we get the black man's point of view. We see what they are doing during the war, but are almost never given the why from their own point of view. From the point of view of southern newspapers we are outsiders looking in, sometimes doubly so when we get a Union account from the other side of a battlefield.
 
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ForeverFree

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What I hope to do, and have started to some extent, is to work out what the developing patterns are for the discussion in the newspapers of this topic. It seems more random than it is because I post things as I find them, but here's a rough estimate of how the subject seems to progress:

- 1861 starts out with plenty of stories about black southerners volunteering labor, giving money and offering to raise companies of free black men to fight, in addition to the 1500 men in New Orleans, and other black or mixed race companies in Louisiana, and a few other places around the South.
- the northern newspapers pick up on these, comment on them, and many complain about the north not using its free black population when the south is willing to do so. This is a common refrain from northern editorials in 1861 and 1862, to the point that when southerners complain about black northern troops, their own words or articles are often thrown back in their faces.
- in addition, there are stories and rumors about black participation for the south in 1st Manassas and some skirmishes, and stories about individual slaves who fought in various battles.

So by the end of the 1861, there is a general belief that black men, free and slave, are willing to fight for the south. The largest amount referenced is one or two regiments, or the 1,500 in New Orleans, so there is nothing I've found that is the equivalent of the USCT. 1862 has fewer volunteer stories about the South, but more stories about black men on picket duty, seen during a battle, and plenty of discussion. To me it seems as if a lot of discussion comes from the continued limited sightings and the overall impression carried over from all the press in 1861. Press accounts from early in the war are again referenced as evidence.

If you do not already have it, I highly recommend The Peninsula Campaign & the Necessity of Emancipation: African Americans & the Fight for Freedom by Glenn David Brasher. It is very readable. It provides a narrative that, although about the origin the Union's emancipation policy, might be useful in how you look at these articles from the southern press.

You might need to get to the middle of the book to see how that works out, but by then, you will see it.

- Alan
 
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Andersonh1

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If you do not already have it, I highly recommend The Peninsula Campaign & the Necessity of Emancipation: African Americans & the Fight for Freedom by Glenn David Brasher. It is very readable. It provides a narrative that, although about the origin the Union's emancipation policy, might be useful in how you look at these articles from the southern press.

You might need to get to the middle of the book to see how that works out, but by then, you will see it.

- Alan

I've added the book to my Amazon list. Looks like a good source of information, thanks for recommending it.
 

Andersonh1

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1890 Census, p 811: Confederate soldiers and sailors and widows of Confederate soldiers and sailors in the United States engaged in each specified occupation, classified by general nativity and color: 1890.

Take a look at the first line, 7th column, "Total colored". The figure given is 3,193. And then under the 14th column, widows, the figure is 334.

COBRkOT.jpg
 

jcaesar

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How about what the international press was saying or showing in political cartoons on the topic?

From my cursory look awhile back they took a very negative view towards black military service. Here is "The Black Draft", by Tenniel appeared in Britain's the London Punch in '64.
 
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