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

Pat Young

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a widely held but false belief or idea.

If something existed, its not false.......

Levin saying something didn't exist, that did no matter how limited, however would be a myth, and a false belief or idea. Think I understand the definition fine
I would suggest consulting philosophy, anthropology, or literary criticism. However, if you consult Merrian Webster, the first two defintions approximate the way the term "myth" is used in scholarship.

 
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I would suggest consulting philosophy, anthropology, or literary criticism. However, if you consult Merrian Webster, the first two defintions approximate the way the term "myth" is used in scholarship.

However when one tries to deny what is fact or existed...... he has crossed well into the : an unfounded or false notion defination

But thanks for your concern, I am aware of which definition I am referring to, and that it applies.
 

Pat Young

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However when one tries to deny what is fact or existed...... he has crossed well into the : an unfounded or false notion defination

But thanks for your concern, I am aware of which definition I am referring to, and that it applies
Not if you are using the word differently than he. If so, you are just arguing with yourself.
 
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No you are assuming he is........

And wouldn't think the second applies at all, as most every historian who acknowledges their existence also acknowledges their limited numbers and rarity, wouldn't seem a popular belief. Unless your simply saying anything that exists is a popular belief.
 
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Having not read this particular book, I can't comment on it specifically.

Any careful analysis can get lost in the multiple dishonest attempts to use exceptions to pretend the war wasn't about slavery.

Some Lost Cause Mythologists point to a picture of a black man with a musket and pull the "See? It wasn't about slavery!" nonsense.
Kinda like a racist who says "why, some of my best friends..................".

That hurts serious scholarship around the exceptions - and understand, they ARE exceptions - uncovered by careful research, and the interesting nuances which they add to our understanding of that period of our history.

The attempt to make the exceptions seem the rule is dishonest. The attempt to use them to claim the war wasn't about slavery is pathetic.

Cleburne is shaking his head at them all from beyond his grave.
I agree, however this is where it seems to become a strawman argument. Many historians will acknowledge they existed, almost all also acknowledge in very limited numbers.........

I dont think I've ever read in any of the many books I have, a claim of any large numbers voluntarily serving, have seen number up to 100,000 serving involuntarily as laborers such as on fortification, in relation to service provided.

So I haven't seen any "widespread attempt to make the exceptions seem the rule" by historians. Acknowledging something isnt saying it was widespread at all, as most specify it wasnt.........

Not seeing how denying its existence is any more valid or sincere, then exaggerating it would be however. Honestly if one has no bias they shouldn't want something either exaggerated or denied, but simply recognized
 
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uaskme

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I graduated from high school in 73. I don't remember any push of narrative about the South claiming Confederates fought for Black Rights, or such. Not remembering the Civil War being much of an Issue at all.

Why would Southerners proclaim the North didn't fight to end Slavery, when clearly, they didn't. Why would they claim Black Confederates to cover another Myth. Seems pretty silly to me. Run up to the 64 election, Lincoln sticks his foot in his mouth, saying something about fighting for Abolition, it cause such a blow back, he thought it would cause him the Election. He started doing back flips, saying he couldn't if he wanted to. After the War is pretty much over, he says it was always about Slavery. The War wasn't but he knew Remembrance would be. He was all Politics.

If Abolition was a War Aim or Goal, someone, please show where it was proclaimed. Should be easy to do, if it were True.
 

Dead Parrott

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I agree, however this is where it seems to become a strawman argument. Many historians will acknowledge they existed, almost all also acknowledge in very limited numbers.........

I dont think I've ever read in any of the many books I have, a claim of any large numbers voluntarily serving, have seen number up to 100,000 serving involuntarily as laborers such as on fortification, in relation to service provided.

So I haven't seen any "widespread attempt to make the exceptions seem the rule" by historians. Acknowledging something isnt saying it was widespread at all, as most specify it wasnt.........

Not seeing how denying its existence is any more valid or sincere, then exaggerating it would be however. Honestly if one has no bias they shouldn't want something either exaggerated or denied, but simply recognized

Valid points. I would agree.

In looking at history and historical trends, folks often talk about cultures, attitudes and practices as if they were Monolithic - everyone thought\practiced exactly the same thing exactly the same way at all times. A simple review of any current issue today would show you that's not only untrue, but impossible, given the dynamics of culture and even Human Nature.

There are trends, there are tendencies - but there are also individuals.

Slavery was bad, no practice of slavery was ever 'good' - but there were different aspects of slavery in different parts of the US, slightly different rules and expectations, and even different practices within certain households and personal relationships. It's correct to acknowledge this; but not without also acknowledging the general or most common practice (ie don't pretend the exceptions over the rule), and especially not using the exceptions to claim an untruth ("so slavery could actually be a GOOD thing!").

I look at the arguments about southern blacks who may\may not have carried guns in the same way. Confederate regulations prohibited blacks from enlisting. Overwhelming commentary (including reactions to Cleburne and EP) show that arming blacks was an absolute anathema to most Confederates. Servile rebellion was a primal fear. But... humans are quirky, and unique situations occur. Not every line in every situation is so clear - think of mulattos, mixed race Indians, free blacks, the occasional personal servant, hard scrabble mountain folk (the kind that eventually resisted the confederacy) - so of course there were shake-your-head "dang, willya lookit that" situations, especially in the chaos of a civil war.

But I must insist that I have indeed heard and seen the 'see it wasn't about slavery' trope using these exceptions. Just as I've heard the 'see slavery wasn't so bad' lies built on exceptions. So in personal experience I can tell you yes, really, part of the underlying reason these exceptions are flaunted (by many) is to perpetuate that Lost Cause Myth lie. And that's sad, not only because it avoids addressing so critical an aspect of our history, but because it actually interferes with the kind of diligent interesting research into these quirky anomalies from this period of our history that we enjoy.

I wish it were not so, and we could simply research and appreciate the rich complexity of this terrible period for what it was.

I agree many historians are above such usages. But not all. And in certain segments, there is an ugly undercurrent that will perpetuate this endlessly, in spite of evidence and research.

Good post, thanks.

- K.
 

Tin cup

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"As Kevin Levin points out in his engaging new book Searching for Black Confederates, real Confederates would have been surprised to find that their descendants believed that blacks served as soldiers in the Confederate Army."

“The 10th Alabama Regiment was the best in the army. This thought with all the regiments made the Southern army the best the world ever saw. In our regiment we had judges from the bench, lawyers of high rank from their offices, merchants of wealth from stores, farmers of large plantations, and numerous negroes who served through the war as privates.”
-William W. Draper (Captain and Adjutant, 10th Alabama Infantry)
Confederate Veteran, Volume 15 (1907), p.487
Draper's opinion, don't think that the confederate government approved of the notion of negroes being "privates". Also note WHEN he claimed this too!

Kevin Dally
 

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Uh-huh...


While the very notion that there were legions of Black folks, and or slaves serving as combat soldiers is laughable, ole buddy boy jgoodguy started a thread where it was proven that "Black Confederates" did exist to some degree. There were probably very few, but they were there nonetheless.

Also thankyou for showing that disgusting, disgraceful, travesty of a photoshop. Its sickening someone would do such a thing, especially when there are plenty of photos of blacks in Confederate uniform. To say there was no such thing is just as much a travesty, as that photo and saying there were legions of Black Confederates. But it's no myth, however small the number.
Thank you for the review.
I have to ask WHAT made any black/slave in the ranks a "Confederate", by any degree? I don't see the distinction officially sanctioned BY the Confederate Government, do you?

Kevin Dally
 

Tin cup

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I graduated from high school in 73. I don't remember any push of narrative about the South claiming Confederates fought for Black Rights, or such. Not remembering the Civil War being much of an Issue at all.

Why would Southerners proclaim the North didn't fight to end Slavery, when clearly, they didn't. Why would they claim Black Confederates to cover another Myth. Seems pretty silly to me. Run up to the 64 election, Lincoln sticks his foot in his mouth, saying something about fighting for Abolition, it cause such a blow back, he thought it would cause him the Election. He started doing back flips, saying he couldn't if he wanted to. After the War is pretty much over, he says it was always about Slavery. The War wasn't but he knew Remembrance would be. He was all Politics.

If Abolition was a War Aim or Goal, someone, please show where it was proclaimed. Should be easy to do, if it were True.
Are we talking about a book that has yet to have been read by many, or war goals here?

Kevin Dally
 

Old_Glory

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Here is a piece of valuable information about the author:

"Kevin M. Levin is a historian and educator based in Boston."

https://www.uncpress.org/author/124778-kevin-m-levin/

Let that sink in.

Perhaps Mr. Levin should stick to subjects where it isn't 100% obvious what his bias is. Of course Black Confederates existed. That is not even debatable.

The issue is now a squabble about the definition of a Black Confederate to determine how many there were.

I would expect an educator to be more up to date.
 
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WJC

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"Kevin M. Levin is a historian and educator based in Boston."
So? Are we only to accept history as written by those residing in our southern states? What about 'snowbirds', or those who have chosen to relocate in the south? Can they be trusted?
Seems just another attempt to 'kill the messenger'....
 
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