Book Review Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth by Kevin M. Levin

DanSBHawk

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The fact that the black soldier bill ultimately passed would seem to indicate that Cobb was in the minority at that point, if only just. I would be more interested in where Cobb fit in society overall at that point when it came to public opinion in general on arming the slaves. I think he was becoming an outlier, and people had far more regard for Lee's opinion than Cobb's.
So as I understand it, Cobbs point of view was the majority point of view in the Confederate government and the Confederate military for almost the entire duration of the war. Then, in the last few months, as the Confederacy was facing imminent defeat, Cobbs point of view may not have been in the majority any longer.

Perhaps he's quoted so often because, in the desperation of that current state of the war, he stated the reasons for the prevailing policy so starkly.
 

Andersonh1

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So as I understand it, Cobbs point of view was the majority point of view in the Confederate government and the Confederate military for almost the entire duration of the war. Then, in the last few months, as the Confederacy was facing imminent defeat, Cobbs point of view may not have been in the majority any longer.

Perhaps he's quoted so often because, in the desperation of that current state of the war, he stated the reasons for the prevailing policy so starkly.

Whatever the reasons for the change in public opinion in the Confederate States on the arming of slaves as soldiers, the fact is that majority opinion had changed by the time Cobb made his statement, meaning he represented the minority. I'm not sure that is often made very clear.
 

unionblue

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Why would it have any meaning since it's only a partial count?...and a bare fraction at that.

Your choice, @19thGeorgia .

By posting what you found of Free Blacks who have been killed or wounded in battle and comparing it to the TOTAL number of Free Blacks in the States that made up the CSA, would it have any meaning by giving those figures?
 

unionblue

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Whatever the reasons for the change in public opinion in the Confederate States on the arming of slaves as soldiers, the fact is that majority opinion had changed by the time Cobb made his statement, meaning he represented the minority.

I disagree. With the debate in the Confederate Congress and the passage of a weak bill that granted nothing without a slaveholder's approval, I see no such "fact" Cobb was in a minority at all. Desperation, yes, minority, no.

I'm not sure that is often made very clear.

Maybe because it as not as clear as some think.

Unionblue
 

Horrido67

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Cobb was not the only man with an opinion on this topic, nor did everyone agree with his opinion. I wonder why he gets quoted so often?

Because Cobb was one of many more politicians who did not want blacks in the Confederate army as combat soldiers until March, 1865.

Those who refused to arm blacks = a majority almost throughout the entire war
Those who accepted a necessity of arming blacks as combat soldiers = a minority almost throughout the entire war
 
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Horrido67

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...and not quote Lee. Didn't Lee outrank Cobb?

These same folk often portray Cobb as a military expert with plenty of experience in commanding troops in the field.

The truth is, he had no military experience prior to the war. He served a few months with the army and then was relegated to desk duty for the rest of the war.

Here is a thing that frustrates me. The Confederacy was not just all about the Confederate army. It was a group of people who tried to set up a legitimate government and break away from the US to preserve & spread slavery. The army was merely a tool of politicians in Richmond for their agenda. The army did not dictate the rules. The organization that was called the Confederate government did.

The Confederate government did not want blacks in their army's ranks until March, 1865. Mr. Cobb was a founding father of the Confederacy and the president of Confederate States Provisional Congress between Feb, 1861 to Feb, 1862 and his views on this subject were consistent with the official policy of the Confederate States until March, 1865.

I admire Robert E. Lee as a general and all, but I do also accept that he was just a soldier. In other words, the Confederate government outranked him. Perhaps, Robert E. Lee would have agreed with John S. Mosby on this.

"I am not ashamed of having fought on the side of slavery, a soldier fights for his country, right or wrong, he is not responsible for the political merits of the course he fights in. The South was my country."
John S. Mosby to Sam Chapman in 1907.

I think this quote is still relevant today to some extend.
 
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Yes. The President, Secretary of State, and General in Chief of the Armies supported the bill.

"In my opinion, the worst calamity that could befall us would be to gain our independence by the valor of our slaves, instead of our own… The day the army of Virginia allows a negro regiment to enter their lines as soldiers, they will be degraded, ruined, and disgraced. But if you put our negroes and white men into the army together, you must and will put them on an equality; they must be under the same code, the same pay, allowances and clothing… Therefore, it is a surrender of the entire slavery question."

https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/62207/fall-south-confederates-vote-arm-slaves
 

Horrido67

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Then Cobb's opinion shouldn't matter either, and we can quit quoting his irrelevant opinion.

Why should we stop quoting him? His view on the subject had been the same with the Confederacy's official policy for almost the entire duration of Civil War.

In fact, when Cobb was not writing the letter to some random person in Jan, 1865, but to Confederate States Secretary of War James A. Seddon who also rejected proposals of officially employing black combat soldiers in the Confederate army on other occasions.
 
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Horrido67

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Whatever the reasons for the change in public opinion in the Confederate States on the arming of slaves as soldiers, the fact is that majority opinion had changed by the time Cobb made his statement, meaning he represented the minority.

I am sorry, but I don't think that is factually correct. Cobb wrote the letter to Confederate States Secretary of War James A. Seddon in Jan, 1865.

In Feb 7, 1865, a resolution calling on the committee on military affairs to report a bill to enroll blacks soldiers was defeated in the Confederate Senate and they decided to postpone the measure indefinitely later in the same month (but of course they changed their mind in March). So Cobb represented the majority pretty much throughout the entire war until March, 1865.

However, I am more than happy to be corrected.
 

Andersonh1

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Why should we stop quoting him? His view on the subject had been the same with the Confederacy's official policy for almost the entire duration of Civil War.

In fact, when Cobb was not writing the letter to some random person in Jan, 1865, but to Confederate States Secretary of War James A. Seddon who also rejected proposals of officially employing black combat soldiers in the Confederate army on other occasions.

I was just trying to make the point to Tin Cup that if, as he said, the opinion of those who wanted to arm the slaves did not matter at that point, because the war was almost over, then for the same reason Cobb's opinion given at the same time shouldn't matter either.

I do think that since the CS Congress voted to arm the slaves that the opinion of those who wanted that to happen should be quoted and emphasized more than the opinion of those who did not want that to happen. Undue emphasis is given to the losing side in the debate.
 

Horrido67

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I was just trying to make the point to Tin Cup that if, as he said, the opinion of those who wanted to arm the slaves did not matter at that point, because the war was almost over, then for the same reason Cobb's opinion given at the same time shouldn't matter either.

I do think that since the CS Congress voted to arm the slaves that the opinion of those who wanted that to happen should be quoted and emphasized more than the opinion of those who did not want that to happen. Undue emphasis is given to the losing side in the debate.

Thank you for your clarification. However, I also believe Cobb's opinion is relevant as his view had been shared by a majority of the Confederacy almost the entire course of the war and this sentiment was again confirmed in Feb, 1865 by the Confederate Senate which rejected the bill for taking black soldiers into the military service, about a month after he wrote the letter to CS Secretary of War James A. Seddon.

For those who are interested in how the Confederate senate voted on the issue in Feb, 1865.

FebVote1.PNG


Source : Journal of the Congress of the Confederate States of America, Volume IV, page 528

Obviously it was a close result (only 1 vote difference) much as it was in March, 1865 when they passed the bill to arm blacks by one vote. It shows that the Confederacy did not want to offer blacks freedom for their military services even in a crisis and they were very reluctant when they changed their mind in March, 1865 only a few weeks before the end.
 

19thGeorgia

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Yes. The President, Secretary of State, and General in Chief of the Armies supported the bill.
"In my opinion, the worst calamity that could befall us would be to gain our independence by the valor of our slaves, instead of our own… The day the army of Virginia allows a negro regiment to enter their lines as soldiers, they will be degraded, ruined, and disgraced. But if you put our negroes and white men into the army together, you must and will put them on an equality; they must be under the same code, the same pay, allowances and clothing… Therefore, it is a surrender of the entire slavery question."

https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/62207/fall-south-confederates-vote-arm-slaves
-statement by Robert Toombs who at the time was serving in the Georgia Militia and not the Confederate government.

?
 

Viper21

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Obviously it was a close result (only 1 vote difference) much as it was in March, 1865 when they passed the bill to arm blacks by one vote. It shows that the Confederacy did not want to offer blacks freedom for their military services even in a crisis and they were very reluctant when they changed their mind in March, 1865 only a few weeks before the end.
That's a fair assessment. Although, I believe it would be just as fair to suggest, they were very split on the issue. They were never close to an overwhelming majority consent either direction.

This issue, was never as cut & dry (as evidenced by the voting), as it is often presented. The swing of a single vote, doesn't suggest definitive support either direction. At least in my opinion.

I would also suggest, like lots of legislation, there was more at stake in this legislation than just, putting Blacks officially into the service of the Confederate military. The bill also calls for emancipation, & full value compensation to their owners.

Plenty of bills are passed, or voted down, as a direct result of the "pork", or other interests in the bill. This bill appears to have MUCH more at stake than simply, allowing Black men to officially serve in the Confederate military.
 

Andersonh1

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Thank you for your clarification. However, I also believe Cobb's opinion is relevant as his view had been shared by a majority of the Confederacy almost the entire course of the war and this sentiment was again confirmed in Feb, 1865 by the Confederate Senate which rejected the bill for taking black soldiers into the military service, about a month after he wrote the letter to CS Secretary of War James A. Seddon.

For those who are interested in how the Confederate senate voted on the issue in Feb, 1865.

View attachment 350609

Source : Journal of the Congress of the Confederate States of America, Volume IV, page 528

Obviously it was a close result (only 1 vote difference) much as it was in March, 1865 when they passed the bill to arm blacks by one vote. It shows that the Confederacy did not want to offer blacks freedom for their military services even in a crisis and they were very reluctant when they changed their mind in March, 1865 only a few weeks before the end.

Good information, but it's seemed to me for some time that the CS Congress was the last to reach the conclusion that a majority of the public and probably a majority of the army had already reached. In other words, they were not the leaders on this issue, they were last to the table.
 
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