East Tennessee's Parson Brownlow & Black Confederates

Joined
Dec 31, 2010
Location
Kingsport, Tennessee
Following the unsuccessful Bridge-Burnings in East Tennessee in November 1861, Confederate leaders immediately suspected Parson Brownlow of complicity, but he denied any involvement in the attacks. He was imprisoned with other Unionists in the Knoxville Jail

Sketches_of_the_rise,.jpg

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According to Wikipedia, "Brownlow asked for permission to leave the state, which was granted by Confederate Secretary of War Judah P. Benjamin. On December 6, as he was in Knoxville preparing to leave, however, Knox County Commissioner Robert B. Reynolds and Confederate States District Attorney John Crozier Ramsey (a son of Confederate States treasury agent J. G. M. Ramsey, the elder who Brownlow earlier in that year referred to as "the vain old historian of Tennessee") arrested and jailed Brownlow on charges of treason. While jailed, Brownlow witnessed the trials and last moments of many of the condemned bridge-burners, which he recorded in a diary. He sent a letter to Benjamin protesting his incarceration, writing, "which is your highest authority, the Secretary of War, a Major General, or a dirty little drunken attorney such as J.C. Ramsey is!" After Benjamin threatened to pardon Brownlow, he was released in late December 1861.

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Brownlow's daughter, Susan, threatening Confederate soldiers who sought to remove the American flag from the Brownlows' home in Knoxville

Brownlow was escorted to Nashville (which the Union Army had captured) and crossed over into Union-controlled territory on March 3, 1862. His struggle against secession had made him a celebrity in northern states, and he embarked upon a speaking tour, starting with speeches in Cincinnati and Dayton in early April. He spoke alongside Indiana governor Oliver P. Morton at Metropolitan Hall in Indianapolis on April 8 and spoke at the Merchants' Exchange in Chicago a few days later. On April 14, he addressed the Ohio state legislature in Columbus. He hosted a banquet at the Monongahela House in Pittsburgh on April 17 and spoke at Independence Hall in Philadelphia two days later".

It was while on the above-mentioned speaking tour, he made his remarks referring to armed Black Men among the Confederates in Tennessee.

"Mr. Brownlow has forever set at rest the question as to the rebels employing Negroes as soldiers. He has seen them with his own eyes and has been guarded by them when in jail in Knoxville. Every day the prisoners were sent with a cask for water to the river. He had gone to the river for water under a guard of Negro soldiers. One big black fellow one day punched him in the side and said, "step along, double-quick, you d----d Lincolnite"!............ The NY Times, page 5, May 18, 1862.

Thanks to @Andersonh1 for the following content:

0326 - Bradford Reporter (Towanda, Pa.), March 26, 1863
FROM TENNESSEE.
PARSON BROWNLOW writes from Nashville that he credits the statement that the rebels have negro soldiers in their army.

0116 - Brownlow's Knoxville Whig, and Rebel Ventilator (Knoxville, Tenn.), January 16, 1864
Arming the Slaves.
There has been a great deal said, pro and con, about the bill before Congress to arm the slaves in this war. Had we been a member of Congress, at the time of the urging of the bill, we should have spoken and voted against it, on the ground that this great nation is able to carry on this war and to succeed in its conduct, without calling upon the slaves of the South, or the free negroes of the North, to fight the battles of the country. At the same time, we should have advocated the using of the slaves of rebels, as teamsters, cooks, servants, and laborers in every department, to aid in putting down the rebellion, as Washington, Jackson, Gaines, Taylor, and others did, in the different wars we have passed through.

On the other hand, we do not agree with some of the ultra peace men of the North, that slaves were never before used in battle. Our reading of history is to the effect that Cataline's famous conspiracy received much existence from those doomed to servitude, his ranks being filled with escaped slaves. And Rome, the "Mistress of the World," nearly fell before their blows. She exerted all her immense resources of wealth and talent, and yet the conflict between the poorly-armed slaves and the best-drilled troops the world ever beheld was quite dubious. At another time the foundations of the "Eternal City" were nearly destroyed by the most gigantic rebellion that Europe ever witnessed up to that period. Spartacus, a slave, was at the head of this revolt. Himself and other slaves brought to a state of desperation by their oppressors struck the first blow. An army sent to suppress the rebellion was defeated; another shared the same fate; while the bones of a third, sent to reinforce them, were left bleaching on the plains. Last, but not least, the rebels of the South have used slaves in this war and armed them in battle, and where they have been brought into action, they have displayed great bravery. They brought on the war because of the negro, and without any provocation. Let them now be fought by the n*****, and made sick of the n*****. Had we the power, we would turn loose all the beasts of the forest, the snakes and lizards of the swamps, and all the devils in hell, but we would put down the rebellion!



0727 - The Camden Confederate July 27, 1864
Brownlow in New York. - Speech of "Old Smut the Parson."
Delivered in New York City, at a meeting for the relief of sick and wounded soldiers:

-------------

"Sir, " said I, "a little more than two years ago when I lay through the cold winter in this jail which towers above our heads, denied the blessings of fire, bedclothes or any comforts, frequently marched in and out by blacks in Rebel uniform with muskets taking the place of their young masters who were smoking cigars and drinking liquor at the hotel of Knoxville.

As I marched to prison the guards would say, "step a little quicker you d---d Lincolnite or I will put this bayonet into you." "Sir," said I, "that looked very bad to me: this looks a good deal better."
 
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unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Member of the Year
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
Following the unsuccessful Bridge-Burnings in East Tennessee in November 1861, Confederate leaders immediately suspected Parson Brownlow of complicity, but he denied any involvement in the attacks. He was imprisoned with other Unionists in the Knoxville Jail

View attachment 338606
View attachment 338604

According to Wikipedia, "Brownlow asked for permission to leave the state, which was granted by Confederate Secretary of War Judah P. Benjamin. On December 6, as he was in Knoxville preparing to leave, however, Knox County Commissioner Robert B. Reynolds and Confederate States District Attorney John Crozier Ramsey (a son of Confederate States treasury agent J. G. M. Ramsey, the elder who Brownlow earlier in that year referred to as "the vain old historian of Tennessee") arrested and jailed Brownlow on charges of treason. While jailed, Brownlow witnessed the trials and last moments of many of the condemned bridge-burners, which he recorded in a diary. He sent a letter to Benjamin protesting his incarceration, writing, "which is your highest authority, the Secretary of War, a Major General, or a dirty little drunken attorney such as J.C. Ramsey is!" After Benjamin threatened to pardon Brownlow, he was released in late December 1861.

View attachment 338605
Brownlow's daughter, Susan, threatening Confederate soldiers who sought to remove the American flag from the Brownlows' home in Knoxville

Brownlow was escorted to Nashville (which the Union Army had captured) and crossed over into Union-controlled territory on March 3, 1862. His struggle against secession had made him a celebrity in northern states, and he embarked upon a speaking tour, starting with speeches in Cincinnati and Dayton in early April. He spoke alongside Indiana governor Oliver P. Morton at Metropolitan Hall in Indianapolis on April 8 and spoke at the Merchants' Exchange in Chicago a few days later. On April 14, he addressed the Ohio state legislature in Columbus. He hosted a banquet at the Monongahela House in Pittsburgh on April 17 and spoke at Independence Hall in Philadelphia two days later".

It was while on the above-mentioned speaking tour, he made his remarks referring to armed Black Men among the Confederates in Tennessee.

"Mr. Brownlow has forever set at rest the question as to the rebels employing Negroes as soldiers. He has seen them with his own eyes and has been guarded by them when in jail in Knoxville. Every day the prisoners were sent with a cask for water to the river. He had gone to the river for water under a guard of Negro soldiers. One big black fellow one day punched him in the side and said, "step along, double-quick, you d----d Lincolnite"!............ The NY Times, page 5, May 18, 1862.

Thanks to @Andersonh1 for the following content:

0326 - Bradford Reporter (Towanda, Pa.), March 26, 1863
FROM TENNESSEE.
PARSON BROWNLOW writes from Nashville that he credits the statement that the rebels have negro soldiers in their army.

0116 - Brownlow's Knoxville Whig, and Rebel Ventilator (Knoxville, Tenn.), January 16, 1864
Arming the Slaves.
There has been a great deal said, pro and con, about the bill before Congress to arm the slaves in this war. Had we been a member of Congress, at the time of the urging of the bill, we should have spoken and voted against it, on the ground that this great nation is able to carry on this war and to succeed in its conduct, without calling upon the slaves of the South, or the free negroes of the North, to fight the battles of the country. At the same time, we should have advocated the using of the slaves of rebels, as teamsters, cooks, servants, and laborers in every department, to aid in putting down the rebellion, as Washington, Jackson, Gaines, Taylor, and others did, in the different wars we have passed through.

On the other hand, we do not agree with some of the ultra peace men of the North, that slaves were never before used in battle. Our reading of history is to the effect that Cataline's famous conspiracy received much existence from those doomed to servitude, his ranks being filled with escaped slaves. And Rome, the "Mistress of the World," nearly fell before their blows. She exerted all her immense resources of wealth and talent, and yet the conflict between the poorly-armed slaves and the best-drilled troops the world ever beheld was quite dubious. At another time the foundations of the "Eternal City" were nearly destroyed by the most gigantic rebellion that Europe ever witnessed up to that period. Spartacus, a slave, was at the head of this revolt. Himself and other slaves brought to a state of desperation by their oppressors struck the first blow. An army sent to suppress the rebellion was defeated; another shared the same fate; while the bones of a third, sent to reinforce them, were left bleaching on the plains. Last, but not least, the rebels of the South have used slaves in this war and armed them in battle, and where they have been brought into action, they have displayed great bravery. They brought on the war because of the negro, and without any provocation. Let them now be fought by the n*****, and made sick of the n*****. Had we the power, we would turn loose all the beasts of the forest, the snakes and lizards of the swamps, and all the devils in hell, but we would put down the rebellion!



0727 - The Camden Confederate July 27, 1864
Brownlow in New York. - Speech of "Old Smut the Parson."
Delivered in New York City, at a meeting for the relief of sick and wounded soldiers:

-------------

"Sir, " said I, "a little more than two years ago when I lay through the cold winter in this jail which towers above our heads, denied the blessings of fire, bedclothes or any comforts, frequently marched in and out by blacks in Rebel uniform with muskets taking the place of their young masters who were smoking cigars and drinking liquor at the hotel of Knoxville.

As I marched to prison the guards would say, "step a little quicker you d---d Lincolnite or I will put this bayonet into you." "Sir," said I, "that looked very bad to me: this looks a good deal better."

@east tennessee roots ,

Is there any other evidence other than the articles in the newspapers mentioned in the above post?

Is there any indication of which Confederate unit, regiment, or militia these black soldiers could be attached to at the time/dates mentioned above?

Do you have any records or sources that can confirm these black confederate guards belonging to a Confederate army unit?

Would appreciate any further sources you might have or could find.

Sincerely,
Unionblue
 
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Joined
Dec 31, 2010
Location
Kingsport, Tennessee
@east tennessee roots ,

Is there any other evidence other than the articles in the newspapers mentioned in the above post?

Is there any indication of which Confederate unit, regiment, or militia these black soldiers could be attached to at the time/dates mentioned above?

Do you have any records or sources that can confirm these black confederate guards belonging to a Confederate army unit?

Would appreciate any further sources you might have or could find.

Sincerely,
Unionblue

Only recorded evidence that Free Persons of Color were being conscripted in Tennessee in 1861.

https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.a0001821966&view=1up&seq=59
June 1863 Series II, Volume VI Lieutenant-Colonel William H Ludlow (Agent for Exchange of Prisoners / 73rd New York Volunteer Infantry) And more recently the Confederate legislature of Tennessee has passed an act forcing into their military service (I quote literally) all-male free persons of color between the ages of fifteen and fifty, or such number as may be necessary, who may be sound in body and capable of actual service; and they further enacted that in the event a sufficient number of free persons of color to meet the wants of the State shall not tender their services, then the Governor is empowered through the sheriff's of different counties to impress such persons until the required number is obtained.

The above from the OR is part of an exchange between the U.S. Agent for the Exchange of Prisoners and his Confederate counterpart. Their "testy" exchange was over the Union's beginning recruitment and arming of the USCT (which the Confederate condemned) and the Confederacy's unwillingness to treat them as Prisoners of War. Colonel Ludlow's response was basically, "You started it! We treat yours as Prisoners Of War. You should do the same with ours".
 
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unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Member of the Year
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
Only recorded evidence that Free Persons of Color were being conscripted in Tennessee in 1861.

https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.a0001821966&view=1up&seq=59
June 1863 Series II, Volume VI Lieutenant-Colonel William H Ludlow (Agent for Exchange of Prisoners / 73rd New York Volunteer Infantry) And more recently the Confederate legislature of Tennessee has passed an act forcing into their military service (I quote literally) all-male free persons of color between the ages of fifteen and fifty, or such number as may be necessary, who may be sound in body and capable of actual service; and they further enacted that in the event a sufficient number of free persons of color to meet the wants of the State shall not tender their services, then the Governor is empowered through the sheriff's of different counties to impress such persons until the required number is obtained.

The above from the OR is part of an exchange between the U.S. Agent for the Exchange of Prisoners and his Confederate counterpart. Their "testy" exchange was over the Union's beginning recruitment and arming of the USCT (which the Confederate condemned) and the Confederacy's unwillingness to treat them as Prisoners of War. Colonel Ludlow's response was basically, "You started it! We treat yours as Prisoners Of War. You should do the same with ours".

@east tennessee roots ,

I thank you for providing the above answer to my question. I am always sure you do your utmost to seek out facts and evidence over second-hand accounts and rumors.

Did you find any other accounts of such free blacks being forced into such service as guards and such? From the above, it surely seems to indicate that slaves would not perform such functions, but if you find such, I think it would be of interest to me and others here.

Thanks again for doing the research and the considerable effort to dig this bit of history up for me.

It is appreciated.

Sincerely,
Unionblue
 
Joined
Dec 31, 2010
Location
Kingsport, Tennessee
slaves would not perform such functions

I would think by definition, a "slave", would do whatever he was told to do? Provision #9 mentions "servants". Brownlow claimed the men guarding him were "body-servants" of Confederate Soldiers. That may or may not have been the case. There were instances where Free Men of Color contracted themselves out to Confederates, (usually officers). A Confederate training camp, (Camp Cummings) was located in Knoxville in 1861.
 
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unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Member of the Year
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
I would think by definition, a "slave", would do whatever he was told to do? Provision #9 mentions "servants". Brownlow claimed the men guarding him were "body-servants" of Confederate Soldiers. That may or may not have been the case. There were instances where Free Men of Color contracted themselves out to Confederates, (usually officers). A Confederate training camp, (Camp Cummings) was located in Knoxville in 1861.

@east tennessee roots ,

With these words I have emboldened in your post above comes my hardest doubts of black confederate soldiers. How do we tell who is under threat or compulsion to serve, and those who freely volunteer?

In a slave society built on the threat of punishment for failure to obey, who do we assume is obeying out of fear, fear for self, fear for one's family members, fear of bodily injury or worse? My biggest problem is the lack of voice given to those blacks who are labeled black confederates, whether as a soldier or servant, in order to find out who served because they HAD to, or who served because they wanted to.

Was freedom of choice in the matter of confederate service a real option presented to these men?

Sincerely,
Unionblue
 
Joined
Dec 31, 2010
Location
Kingsport, Tennessee
How do we tell who is under threat or compulsion to serve, and those who freely volunteer?

We would have to have been there to know that would we not? Conscripts in the south and draftees in the north were all compelled to serve if called. As for servants, some served faithfully, others made for the Union lines at the first opportunity. As a citizen of the 21st century, I sit in judgment of neither.
 
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unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Member of the Year
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
We would have to have been there to know that would we not? Conscripts in the south and draftees in the north were all compelled to serve if called. As for servants, some served faithfully, others made for the Union lines at the first opportunity. As a citizen of the 21st century, I sit in judgment of neither.

@east tennessee roots ,

I am very much of the firm idea that being drafted is not the same as a slave being compelled to serve.

I enlisted in the US Army in 1971, freely, and yet there was a draft going on at the time and I served with draftees for my first enlistments. I never thought it was a good idea to have a reluctant recruit beside me in combat and was very glad when the Army went all volunteer.

But at no time did I ever feel like I was a slave. I knew if I refused an illegal order I could go to the stockade, suffer jail time or be dishonorable discharged. But I would not suffer the same punishments of a disobedient slave.

I follow your reasoning that neither of us were there at the time of slavery and sometimes we can only guess why some took the actions they did.

But I do sit in judgement of slavery as a wrong, then and now.

The art of sifting down those who were willing and those who were compelled are left to those who had to decide during those times. I only judge those who ascribe unfounded, unproven, and unspoken agendas on those unfortunate folks. The research you, @Andersonh1 , @19thGeorgia , and other serious members who provide real evidence and sources are entirely different and well worth the reading and I always feel you all are doing your utmost to present facts, historical facts.

Thanks for talking at me, I appreciate your thoughts on the topic.

Sincerely,
Unionblue
 
Joined
Dec 31, 2010
Location
Kingsport, Tennessee
@east tennessee roots ,

I am very much of the firm idea that being drafted is not the same as a slave being compelled to serve.

I enlisted in the US Army in 1971, freely, and yet there was a draft going on at the time and I served with draftees for my first enlistments. I never thought it was a good idea to have a reluctant recruit beside me in combat and was very glad when the Army went all volunteer.

But at no time did I ever feel like I was a slave. I knew if I refused an illegal order I could go to the stockade, suffer jail time or be dishonorable discharged. But I would not suffer the same punishments of a disobedient slave.

I follow your reasoning that neither of us were there at the time of slavery and sometimes we can only guess why some took the actions they did.

But I do sit in judgement of slavery as a wrong, then and now.

The art of sifting down those who were willing and those who were compelled are left to those who had to decide during those times. I only judge those who ascribe unfounded, unproven, and unspoken agendas on those unfortunate folks. The research you, @Andersonh1 , @19thGeorgia , and other serious members who provide real evidence and sources are entirely different and well worth the reading and I always feel you all are doing your utmost to present facts, historical facts.

Thanks for talking at me, I appreciate your thoughts on the topic.

Sincerely,
Unionblue

Merry Christmas my friend!
 
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