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

Old_Glory

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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'....

I do not want to read a book about Confederates from someone located in Boston. That should not be shocking in the least.
 

Tin cup

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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.
Perhaps YOU should get the book, read it, THEN comment! Then you would be up to date on the book!:rolleyes:

Kevin Dally
 

uaskme

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Are we talking about a book that has yet to have been read by many, or war goals here?

Kevin Dally

Author wrote what was posted in the OP. Said War was Fought to end Slavery. It did end it. Not why it was fought. There is a difference.



Part of his Narrative has been quoted. Says in the 70s the Black Confederate Myth was that it in place, so as to debunk
 

O' Be Joyful

Sergeant Major
Why, then, do we have multiple threads debating the premise?

Because "some" did exist? I acknowledge there was an insignificant few.

There are outliers in every confrontation through-out history. To discount every...single...one is to deny reality and basic human nature.

Now further, to think that there was any Large organized Negro force fightin' to make the so-called Confederacy a Nation defined by "states rights" is simply ludicrous.
 
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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

1. Where those "negroes" armed soldiers or were they servants/messengers/teamsters/navvies and the like?
2. Were those "negroes" slaves, freed slaves, or creoles/cajuns*?
3. Did they fight willingly?

*For those unfamilar, creoles were mixed race with French/Spanish background, who enjoyed privileges other non-whites did not. Some of them could pass for whites and thus often did when necessary. They were present in New Orleans and Mobile (which is where 10th Alabama was mustered), and surrounding areas. The Confederate Secretary of War once answered an inquiry into whether they could serve, by saying: "Our position with the North and before the world will not allow the employment as armed soldiers of negroes. If these creoles can be naturally and properly discriminated from negroes, the authority may be considered as conferred; otherwise not, unless you can enlist them as “navvies” (to use the English term) or for subordinate working purposes."

Without more information, and also without supporting documents and other research on the 10th Alabama, this quote doesn't exactly prove or disprove anything.

It's possible the author addressed this or other oft used pieces of evidence in his book, but it appears only Pat has read it. I have not and I do not have access to a copy personally, otherwise I would check.
 

Desert Kid

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I'm probably the last person that would say blacks served in the Confederate army in an official, enlisted capacity.

But there is documented evidence of able bodied black men doing so, unofficially.

Merely mentioning Holt Collier got me a moderation on his blog once. Then you have the bodyguards that Forrest had with him.

I should also mention John Noland, who was a free man of color who was a scout for Quantrill's Raiders. Ang Lee used him as the basis of the character Daniel Holt in Ride With the Devil.

Edited.
 

WJC

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Because "some" did exist? I acknowledge there was an insignificant few.

There are outliers in every confrontation through-out history. To discount every...single...one is to deny reality and basic human nature.

Now further, to think that there was any Large organized Negro force fightin' to make the so-called Confederacy a Nation defined by "states rights" is simply ludicrous.
Thanks for your response.
I believe most of our members agree that there were a significant number of Blacks accompanying the rebel armies in various capacities: cooks, laborers, musicians, servants. There is indisputable proof of that. The issue that is yet to be resolved is how many were actual soldiers. The information that I have seen indicates there were small numbers as a percentage of the overall armies.
 

O' Be Joyful

Sergeant Major
Thanks for your response.
I believe most of our members agree that there were a significant number of Blacks accompanying the rebel armies in various capacities: cooks, laborers, musicians, servants. There is indisputable proof of that. The issue that is yet to be resolved is how many were actual soldiers. The information that I have seen indicates there were small numbers as a percentage of the overall armies.

I was being rhetorical WJC, and was using you as a foil. My apologies for any misunderstanding.
 

WJC

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The debates turn into a squabble over the definition of a Black Confedearte as I stated in my post.
Thanks for your response.
Some certainly do, particularly when they discuss claims of outlandish numbers of Black rebel soldiers. Those threads that take a less exciting but more considered approach are quite good. An excellent example is @Andersonh1's thread "Black Southerners and the Confederate Cause- What the Newspapers Said: 1861-1865".
Another is @19thGeorgia's, "Black Confederates: How Many Were Killed or Wounded in Battle?"
These threads demonstrate that a civil search for the truth can be achieved here.
 

WJC

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I was being rhetorical WJC, and was using you as a foil. My apologies for any misunderstanding.
Thanks for your response.
No apologies necessary. No misunderstanding: you provided me a way to make a statement I thought was needed. So I, too, was "using you as a foil"!
 

Old_Glory

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Thanks for your response.
Some certainly do, particularly when they discuss claims of outlandish numbers of Black rebel soldiers. Those threads that take a less exciting but more considered approach are quite good. An excellent example is @Andersonh1's thread "Black Southerners and the Confederate Cause- What the Newspapers Said: 1861-1865".
Another is @19thGeorgia's, "Black Confederates: How Many Were Killed or Wounded in Battle?"
These threads demonstrate that a civil search for the truth can be achieved here.

But it is not a debate. It is an avalanche of evidence and search to find out how many there were. The threads show these men were anything but a "Southern myth".
 

Tin cup

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Thanks for your response.
Some certainly do, particularly when they discuss claims of outlandish numbers of Black rebel soldiers. Those threads that take a less exciting but more considered approach are quite good. An excellent example is @Andersonh1's thread "Black Southerners and the Confederate Cause- What the Newspapers Said: 1861-1865".
Another is @19thGeorgia's, "Black Confederates: How Many Were Killed or Wounded in Battle?"
These threads demonstrate that a civil search for the truth can be achieved here.
All under the guise of "research", ignoring what the Confederate Government allowed in it's recruiting laws, arming blacks/slave laws...:nah disagree:
Folk seem to be guilty of doing exactly what they accuse Levin of doing, ignoring what they don't want folk to see!
Kevin Dally
 

lurid

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What exactly does this prove anyway? So black Confederate troops were fighting against emancipation? Maybe? The African tribe leaders did collaborate with white slave traders by enslaving their own people, perhaps out of self-preservation or greed. I cannot see any other explanation for a black man to suit up for the Confederacy.

Speculating, if there were 100,000 black Confederate troops(this is way inflated) there were still 4 million blacks enslaved, that still leaves 98% of the southern blacks in slavery. That's giving the Confederacy the benefit and it still did not put a dent in slavery.

There's the psychological aspect of arming a slave, a white Confederate officer would equate to a slave master, which I'm quite sure there was no love loss. The percentage of a black soldier taking a potshot at a white Confederate officer would be rather high, considering there were officers in modern wars who were wasted by members of the rank and file and they barely knew each other. Imo, white Confederate officers would have been in grave danger and the Union would have been the least of the their worries. The thought of getting fragged would have spread fear through the Confederate high command, which I don't believe for a second they were that stupid to put themselves in such a vulnerable situation. If anyone on this board was in military infantry they would know exactly what I'm talking about to the (T).

Consequently, if there were any black Confederate troops, they were not armed and worked non-combat jobs.
 
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Old_Glory

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Author wrote what was posted in the OP. Said War was Fought to end Slavery. It did end it. Not why it was fought. There is a difference.

The author gives away his motivation just in what is in the first post of this thread. Look carefully.

"hoped to demonstrate that if free and enslaved black men fought in Confederate ranks, the war could not have been fought to abolish slavery. "

The author is pointing the figure away from himself, but the truth is "Black Confederates" must stay a myth so that the author can continue to perpetrate the myth that the War was over slavery. If the author accepts Black Confederates, it damages his precious narrative of the War.
 

WJC

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All under the guise of "research", ignoring what the Confederate Government allowed in it's recruiting laws, arming blacks/slave laws...:nah disagree:
Folk seem to be guilty of doing exactly what they accuse Levin of doing, ignoring what they don't want folk to see!
Kevin Dally
Thanks for your response.
I don't believe anyone in any of the many 'Black Confederate' threads has ignored the rebel government's laws against recruiting Blacks. Those laws did not change until 1865, so most (if not all) agree that the number of Blacks officially recruited under the authority of the central government are few.
At the same time, we know that there were Blacks serving in various capacities in the rebel forces. Most were slaves provided by their 'owners' under contract to serve as laborers. But there were others who served as cooks, grooms for animals, servants to various officers.
The threads I mentioned are trying to identify these now largely forgotten individuals.
Is that wrong? That depends upon individual opinions. One thing about our Forum, no one forces any member to participate or even view a thread that he/she may not think interesting or appropriate.
 

WJC

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"hoped to demonstrate that if free and enslaved black men fought in Confederate ranks, the war could not have been fought to abolish slavery. "
That thought did not originate with Mr. Levin. There are many, perhaps better qualified, historians who point to the fact that the subject of 'Black Confederates' was generally ignored until the 1960s/1970s when it entered the conversation, seemingly as a response to the Civil Rights Movement.
Whatever the reason, an ngram viewer graph of the term "Black Confederates" in the literature shows it was negligible until the mid-1960's and dramatically increased in the 1990s.
Black Confederates NGram.png
 
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I do not want to read a book about Confederates from someone located in Boston. That should not be shocking in the least.

I understand a lot of these history books may disagree with a long cherished belief. So some people constructs their personal 1984, and acts as their own big brother. Its very human. But its not the way to gain an understanding of historical events.
 
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