Southern Newspapers View the Use of Black Troops 1863 to 1865

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John Hartwell

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Earlier in 1863, as the proposal to enlist colored soldiers in the Federal forces was being debated in Congress, the Macon Telegraph (Feb. 23) had ridiculed the very idea:
Macon_Telegraph_1863-02-23_[1] - Edited.png
How they did underestimate their slaves willingness to fight! Or the prospect of compulsory enlistment.
 

Pat Young

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Earlier in 1863, as the proposal to enlist colored soldiers in the Federal forces was being debated in Congress, the Macon Telegraph (Feb. 23) had ridiculed the very idea:
How they did underestimate their slaves willingness to fight! Or the prospect of compulsory enlistment.
And of course the Union did not recruit 150,000 blacks, it recruited 170,000.
 
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Andersonh1

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I thought it would be interesting to see how Southern newspapers viewed Black soldiers.
I agree, but from what I've read, you have to make a distinction between how they viewed black soldiers in general, and black Union soldiers recruited from southern states, because many newspaper writers don't treat them the same. More often than not, they're going to view the latter as illegitimate, and not evaluate them as soldiers at all really. They tend to see them as slaves forced to fight, or slaves committing treason. Black men from northern states in the Union army aren't seen in exactly the same way, (though they are certainly not viewed positively) but I have seen post war admissions by former Confederates that they fought well and were as good at soldiering as the white Union soldiers.
 
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Pat Young

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you have to make a distinction between how they viewed black soldiers in general, and black Union soldiers recruited from southern states, because many newspaper writers don't treat them the same. More often than not, they're going to view the latter as illegitimate, and not evaluate them as soldiers at all really. They tend to see them as slaves forced to fight, or slaves committing treason. Black men from northern states in the Union army aren't seen in exactly the same way, (though they are certainly not viewed positively) but I have seen post war admissions by former Confederates that they fought well and were as good at soldiering as the white Union soldiers.
If the newspaper writer makes that distinction, it will be obvious in the text of the article, won't it? It will be interesting to see how distinct that distinction is.
 
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Andersonh1

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Grasping at straws, are you?
It just struck me as an odd thing to emphasize. Perhaps with the various stories in the newspapers about black CS soldiers, the fact that these were on the Union side needed to be made clear. But if only one side has black troops and everyone knows it, there's no need to point out which side those black troops are on. It would be obvious.

A minor point, parsing words. Something I've often done trying to sort through the sometimes muddy reporting of the era. Carry on. :smile:
 
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Pat Young

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It just struck me as an odd thing to emphasize. Perhaps with the various stories in the newspapers about black CS soldiers, the fact that these were on the Union side needed to be made clear. But if only one side has black troops and everyone knows it, there's no need to point out which side those black troops are on. It would be obvious.
I read a lot of Southern newspaper articles every day that were published from 1860 until 1869. In some ways it is like reading Homer, but not in a good way. Remember in the Illiad how every person had one or more descriptive terms in from of his name "Bold Achilles" "Cunning Odessyus" etc? Some thing here. Southern newspapermen could not resist putting the words Yankee or Abolitionist or Black Republican in front of many mentions of the Union army. It is a meme before memes existed.
 
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