Researcher Says Black Texans In Confederate Army

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Battalion

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PALESTINE Researcher Examines Black Civil War Vets

By BETTY WATERS
[email protected]

Blacks fought in the Civil War, surprisingly on the side of the Confederacy, many of them from Texas, Palestine historian Norris White Jr. said his research shows.

They are the “black forgotten Confederates,” White said, who has extensively researched the role of blacks in the Confederate Army for a book he is writing that will be titled “Black Texans Who Served in the Confederate Army.”

Much attention has been given in movies such as “Glory” and in books and articles written by prominent U.S. military and Civil War era historians to the exploits and heroics of black soldiers serving in the Union forces, White said, but he added that “very little observance, if any, has been given to their counterparts in the Confederate Army.”..............>
http://www.tylerpaper.com/article/20120827/NEWS01/120829773
 

AndyHall

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I'll be interested to see his book. What I've read of him so far is that he's embracing the same vagueness that other advocates of BCS have, using ill-defined phrases like "in the army" and "served" to elide distinctions in status that were both critical and well-understood at the time.
White estimates the number of black Texans who participated in the Confederate Army in the War Between the States may have been as high as 50,000.
There's that phrase, "in the Confederate Army." Given that the entire male slave population of Texas between ages 15 and 50 in 1860 was just under 44,000, I have to wonder what folks are thinking when they make statements like that. It doesn't help their credibility.

If his argument is that the labor of tens thousands of enslaved persons in Texas in one way or another benefited the Confederate war effort, that's neither a controversial statement or anything like new scholarship. Serious, academic historians have dealt with this over and over again, going back to the early 20th century; it's not a new idea or something that's "been omitted from history," unless you don't actually bother to read what's been written.

But again -- we'll see.
 
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AndyHall

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I can go along with,WITH, the army, I just don't believe they were IN the army.
Yes, to be sure, but the number 50,000 would have to encompass still more than that, including agricultural workers, those laboring on a variety of public projects, those working for contractors to the government -- it surely goes beyond any role that can be plausibly said to be "with" the army, much less "in" it. Again, 50,000 is more than the entire military-age population of enslaved men in the state in 1860.

At some point, to get into numbers like that you have to broaden the definition so wide, draw the circle so far out, that the definition becomes fairly meaningless.
 

Mark F. Jenkins

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Anyone have any figures on how many troops (of any kind) were raised in Texas; and of those, how many were in Confederate service and how many in state service? (Realizing there will be some overlap between those two numbers if militia was... er, 'confederalized')
 

ExNavyPilot

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Reading the article, I see that the researcher is first quoted as estimating 7,500 black Texans serving in the Confederate Army, then in the next paragraph the article's author mentions the 50,000 number. I think the author of the article perhaps misstated the info. The article section, and my correction per my interpretation of what the researcher might have meant, are below.

“ 'But three years later, I can show you evidence that indicates at least over 7.500 black Texans participated in the Confederate Army,' [White] said.

That's the number of “forgotten Confederates” he said he has personally documented in his research, but White estimates the number of black Texans blacks who participated in the Confederate Army in the War Between the States may have been as high as 50,000."​
Still, I don't at all expect those numbers to indicate those blacks who fought for the Confederacy as uniformed soldiers, just those who served in some non-fighting capacity such as cooks, servants, teamsters, laborers. These two categories seem to get conflated way too often.
 
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rpkennedy

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Reading the article, I see that the researcher is first quoted as estimating 7,500 black Texans serving in the Confederate Army, then in the next paragraph the article's author mentions the 50,000 number. I think the author of the article perhaps misstated the info. The article section, and my correction per my interpretation of what the researcher might have meant, are below.

“ 'But three years later, I can show you evidence that indicates at least over 7.500 black Texans participated in the Confederate Army,' [White] said.​
That's the number of “forgotten Confederates” he said he has personally documented in his research, but White estimates the number of black Texans blacks who participated in the Confederate Army in the War Between the States may have been as high as 50,000."​
Still, I don't at all expect those numbers to indicate those blacks who fought for the Confederacy as uniformed soldiers, just those who served in some non-fighting capacity such as cooks, servants, teamsters, laborers. These two categories seem to get conflated way too often.
I agree with you. There is simply no evidence to support those kinds of numbers fighting with the Confederate armies. Now, serving with the army as servants and such, that's another argument entirely.

R
 

Rob9641

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White does lump all blacks together - servants, aids, and claimed infantrymen. He makes no effort to sort them out by what they did. There's nothing new here that I can see.
 

AndyHall

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Anyone have any figures on how many troops (of any kind) were raised in Texas; and of those, how many were in Confederate service and how many in state service? (Realizing there will be some overlap between those two numbers if militia was... er, 'confederalized')
Wiki says "over 70,000" total in military service. This seems a plausible number as the 1860 census had the population of white males aged 15-50 at about 113,000.
 
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I'll be interested to see his book. What I've read of him so far is that he's embracing the same vagueness that other advocates of BCS have, using ill-defined phrases like "in the army" and "served" to elide distinctions in status that were both critical and well-understood at the time.
The link is amusing. There are some obvious problems with his theories as evidenced in the markers:

Gotta love the bald assertion "The courage and loyalty of Kelly was typical of most Texas Negro slaves." That's 1860 white slave owner wishful thinking.

"Hundreds went to war with their masters." Okay...then how is that 7,500 black Texans served with the Confederate army. There were only 181 "free colored males" in the 1860 census in Texas.
 

AndyHall

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The link is amusing. There are some obvious problems with his theories as evidenced in the markers:

Gotta love the bald assertion "The courage and loyalty of Kelly was typical of most Texas Negro slaves." That's 1860 white slave owner wishful thinking.

"Hundreds went to war with their masters." Okay...then how is that 7,500 black Texans served with the Confederate army. There were only 181 "free colored males" in the 1860 census in Texas.
Both those markers are from 1965, and so reflect both the lingering "faithful slave" meme of earlier generations, as well possibly a little pushback against the then-controversial Civil Rights Movement. (1965 was the year of the Selma-to-Montgomery marches and the "Bloody Sunday" confrontation at the Edmund Pettus Bridge.) It's easy to forget that monuments don't just reflect the historical events they ostensibly commemorate, but also the views and times of those who put them up.
 
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ForeverFree

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I don't see much new in what the author talks about. From the article:

They are the “black forgotten Confederates,” White said, who has extensively researched the role of blacks in the Confederate Army for a book he is writing that will be titled “Black Texans Who Served in the Confederate Army.”​
He found that black Texans served in the Confederate Army in many diverse capacities, such as infantrymen on the battlefield, personal body servants, teamsters or laborers.​

As we've discussed at length on this board, there is no doubt at all that there were Confederate slaves who provided labor to the Confederate army. The question is, how many of them were enlisted as soldiers in the Confederate army, as opposed to being coerced laborers who served out of submission and duty to their masters?

Interestingly, Battalion has noted the following in a previous post:

Texas
Confederate Veteran, Volume 24, p.390- "Texas (C)….Six hundred and ninety-seven negro servants of veterans are pensioned."​
It would seem that if there were in fact 7,500/50,000 persons of African descent who served "in" the Confederate army from Texas, only a few of them were deemed eligible for a pension. I wonder if the author addresses that point in his book? (As mentioned in post #6 above, the number of black Texans in the Confederate army is cited as 7,500 in one paragraph, and 50,000 in another.)

- Alan
 

Tin cup

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"The topic caught White's attention while he was working on his thesis on the Buffalo soldiers, the first regular black soldiers in the U.S. military, as he pursues a master's degree in history from Stephen F. Austin State University.

White found that several Buffalo soldiers had prior service in the Confederate Army and said the thought occurred to him that they are a category that has not really been explored."

"prior service in the Confederate Army"

WHAT was their "service"?
Did the Confederate government recognize these fellows as soldiers? Were they willingly armed and drilled as soldiers...
I'm skeptical.:unsure: It seems with me any time "Black Confederates" comes up, a big warning signal goes off in my head. Slave owners had no problem sending their Sons to war, but seems they wanted the slaves at home!


Kevin Dally
 

AndyHall

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It would seem that if there were in fact 7,500/50,000 persons of African descent who served "in" the Confederate army from Texas, only a few of them were deemed eligible for a pension. I wonder if the author addresses that point in his book? (As mentioned in post #6 above, the number of black Texans in the Confederate army is cited as 7,500 in one paragraph, and 50,000 in another.)
There is no comprehensive list of African Americans in Texas who received pensions, as far as I know. (There were no pensions specifically for former servants, as in states like Mississippi.) The archivists at the Texas State Library in Austin, which holds the originals, put together an informal list on candidates they've encountered by chance, that has ten or a dozen names -- a tiny fraction of the nearly 700 claimed in the Confederate Veteran. I've gone through several of these pension applications, and in most it's very explicitly clear hat these men had a non-combatant role. In a couple of other cases, it's not clear from the paperwork that the applicant is even black, although that can be determined from other sources like the census. In other cases, pensions were denied because the men were not considered soldiers, before (eventually) being awarded. In short, the handful of pension files I've looked at closely are all over the map, and it's hard to draw any conclusions about consistent application or process from them.

Texas Confederate pensions, BTW, are how available through Ancestry. Thank God for Al Gore inventing the Internet!
 
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There is no comprehensive list of African Americans in Texas who received pensions, as far as I know. (There were no pensions specifically for former servants, as in states like Mississippi.) The archivists at the Texas State Library in Austin, which holds the originals, put together an informal list on candidates that has ten or a dozen names -- a tiny fraction of the nearly 700 claimed in the Confederate Veteran. I've gone through several of these pension applications, and in most it's very explicitly clear hat these men had a non-combatant role. In a couple of other cases, it's not clear from the paperwork that the applicant is even black, although that can be determined from other sources like the census. In other cases, pensions were denied because the men were not considered soldiers, before (eventually) being awarded. In short, the pension files are all over the map, and it's hard to draw any conclusions about consistent application or process from them.

Texas Confederate pensions, BTW, are how available through Ancestry. Thank God for Al Gore inventing the Internet!
Of note is that The Confederate Veteran specifically identifies the 697 black pensioners as "negro servants of veterans," so there's no question about it - they were Confederate slaves, not enlisted soldiers.

The Confederate Veterans account does not cite a specific source, it only states that the information was "Compiled from Reports of State Officials." Could the Confederate Veterans account be wrong? That's a good question, based on your research. It is interesting to me that the study of Black Confederate pensioners by James Hollandsworth did not cite any such persons from Texas, but who knows, maybe The Confederate Veteran did have it right... or maybe not.

- Alan
 

AndyHall

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The Confederate Veterans account does not cite a specific source, it only states that the information was "Compiled from Reports of State Officials." Could the Confederate Veterans account be wrong?
I can't say it's wrong because I don't know what it's based on. Nor can it be verified as correct, AFAIK. My gut says it's too high, but there may be no way to know exactly, without some serious digging in the archives, probably in the state controller's records from the 1920s. The correspondence may be there.
 

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I can't say it's wrong because I don't know what it's based on. Nor can it be verified as correct, AFAIK. My gut says it's too high, but there may be no way to know exactly, without some serious digging in the archives, probably in the state controller's records from the 1920s. The correspondence may be there.
The ultimate take-away for me from the Confederate Veteran story - which was published in 1916 (40 years after the end of the war) - is that under 700 slaves in Texas got pensions. Which pretty much confirms my understanding that the overwhelming number of African Americans who were "in" the Confederate army were actually un-enlisted slaves who were operating out of obedience to their masters, not out of duty to the Confederate state. I'm curious to see how this squares with the information from the scholar in the OP.

- Alan
 
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