T or F? Official Records: No Confederate ever references having black soldiers under his command

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If I may, the Offical Reports especially the Confederate side is very poor at best. You can read any volume of the Official Re ords and a good 2/3 is Union reports.
To limit oneself to such a small fraction of what is available is very limiting.
That all I got to say here, go on about your business. I will not interupt anymore.
 

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Please, folks. @ForeverFree has limited his inquiry specifically to the Official Records, and requested a simple response of True or False. This should not be difficult to understand.

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I've been thinking of splitting off the off topic posts into their own thread. May do it tomorrow.
 

ForeverFree

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If I may, the Offical Reports especially the Confederate side is very poor at best. You can read any volume of the Official Re ords and a good 2/3 is Union reports.
To limit oneself to such a small fraction of what is available is very limiting.
That all I got to say here, go on about your business. I will not interupt anymore.
If someone wants to open a thread about any known examples (of Confederate officers referencing black man under their command) outside the OR, that's fine. The attractive thing about the Official Records is that they are official, and, they indicate the names of Confederate officers. Those things are important in terms of establishing the veracity of primary sources. And I have seen people make flawed interpretations based on evidence whose quality is questionable, at best.

Again, the Civil War Trust made this charge, and it's either true or false. I'm looking for evidence that disproves what they say. We can only evaluate the claim made by the CWT based on what is actually in the OR.

- Alan
 
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This might be useful for members who are not that well acquainted with the OR: from a site of the Ohio State University:

A COMPILATION OF THE OFFICIAL RECORDS OF THE UNION AND CONFEDERATE ARMIES

No serious study of the American Civil War is complete without consulting the Official Records. Affectionately known as the "OR", the 128 volumes of the Official Records provide the most comprehensive, authoritative, and voluminous reference on Civil War operations. The reports contained in the Official Records are those of the principal leaders who fought the battles and then wrote their assessments days, weeks, and sometimes months later.

The Official Records are thus the eyewitness accounts of the veterans themselves. As such they are "often flawed sources – poorly written in some cases, lacking perspective in others, frequently contradictory and occasionally even self-serving." Nevertheless, they were compiled before the publication of other literature on the subject that, in several cases, caused some veterans to alter their memory and perception of events later in life.

Officially titled, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, the Official Records are compiled in 127 volumes, plus a General Index and accompanying Atlas.

A word of caution must be made here about the value and limitations of the Official Records. As primary source material, the Official Records are, without question, the most complete and impartial documentation on the American Civil War. They provide a foundation for serious research into virtually any aspect of the war.

On the other hand, no study of the American Civil War should rely exclusively on the Official Records. The accounts contained in the OR were not edited for accuracy, and due to space considerations, only excerpts of reports were often included. Researchers should thus verify the information found in these reports with other source material to gain as complete a picture of events as possible.​

- Alan
 

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Off Topic posts were moved to the side bar thread for this thread. If there is an error, please let me know.


Definition of sidebar

:a short news story or graphic accompanying and presenting sidelights of a major story
b :something incidental :sidelight
I am trying this idea rather than deleting off topic posts.
 

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In those same Official Records, no Confederate ever references having black soldiers under his command or in his unit,
I wonder though, how does Civil War Trust know this to be true? Have they scoured the OR looking for this, or know someone reputable that has? I am not saying it is true or false, but it falls more into speculation in my view. Personally, I would feel very uncomfortable putting forth such a statement without myself having confirmed its veracity.
 
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I wonder though, how does Civil War Trust know this to be true? Have they scoured the OR looking for this, or know someone reputable that has? I am not saying it is true or false, but it falls more into speculation in my view. Personally, I would feel very uncomfortable putting forth such a statement without myself having confirmed its veracity.
The line is "In those same Official Records, no Confederate ever references having black soldiers under his command or in his unit, although references to black laborers are common. ". It is a statement that they found no evidence of. It does not mean there is no evidence.

Personally I would have a text searchable copy of the ORs and do word scans on CSA correspondence for key words. Examine the results. A bit tedious, but easily doable. It could miss something, but should be sufficient. A complete read is not necessary IMHO.
 

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If I may, the Offical Reports especially the Confederate side is very poor at best. You can read any volume of the Official Re ords and a good 2/3 is Union reports.
To limit oneself to such a small fraction of what is available is very limiting.
That all I got to say here, go on about your business. I will not interupt anymore.
Evidence about the Civil War by its nature is incomplete. The best that can be done is to assert the evidence, follow the evidence there is and not speculate on evidence that is not.

One other issue is sampling theory which basically says that with a large enough sample, something will show up. The ORs are a very big sample.
 

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Given the haphazard nature of the CSA records in the OR, whatever records exist there are all we are ever going to have. Barring some sort of treasure hidden in some garden, of course, or some other equally unlikely event, like some previously unknown records showing up on Antiques Roadshow. The loss of records at the end of the war hurts the modern researcher, and incidentally, affects the CSA side of the story. We will never have more than an incomplete record at best.
 
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I wonder though, how does Civil War Trust know this to be true? Have they scoured the OR looking for this, or know someone reputable that has? I am not saying it is true or false, but it falls more into speculation in my view. Personally, I would feel very uncomfortable putting forth such a statement without myself having confirmed its veracity.
This is from the Civil War Trust article Black Confederates: Truth and Legend:

This is not to say that no black man ever fired a gun for the Confederacy. To be specific, in the “Official Records of the War of the Rebellion,” a collection of military records from both sides which spans more than 50 volumes and more than 50,000 pages, there are a total of seven Union eyewitness reports of black Confederates. Three of these reports mention black men shooting at Union soldiers, one report mentions capturing a handful of armed black men along with some soldiers, and the other three reports mention seeing unarmed black laborers. There is no record of Union soldiers encountering an all-black line of battle or anything close to it.

In those same Official Records, no Confederate ever references having black soldiers under his command or in his unit, although references to black laborers are common.​

Based on the above, it does seem like a person or persons actually did look through the OR and made the observations noted. "Look through the OR" could (and probably) means they did some kind of search, but the methodology they used is not provided.

The comment In those... Official Records, no Confederate ever... is a strong statement to make, to be sure, and yes, I wouldn't make it unless I knew it was true. The CWT is putting its reputation on the line by saying this, so one would hope it's true. Let's see if they can be proven wrong in this thread.

- Alan
 

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Given the haphazard nature of the CSA records in the OR, whatever records exist there are all we are ever going to have. Barring some sort of treasure hidden in some garden, of course, or some other equally unlikely event, like some previously unknown records showing up on Antiques Roadshow. The loss of records at the end of the war hurts the modern researcher, and incidentally, affects the CSA side of the story. We will never have more than an incomplete record at best.
History is always incomplete, all we can do is use the available evidence.
 
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Given the haphazard nature of the CSA records in the OR, whatever records exist there are all we are ever going to have. Barring some sort of treasure hidden in some garden, of course, or some other equally unlikely event, like some previously unknown records showing up on Antiques Roadshow. The loss of records at the end of the war hurts the modern researcher, and incidentally, affects the CSA side of the story. We will never have more than an incomplete record at best.
Again, the point is not that the OR are the be-all and end-all of Civil War documentation. I think this comment from the Ohio State University is correct:

As primary source material, the Official Records are, without question, the most complete and impartial documentation on the American Civil War. They provide a foundation for serious research into virtually any aspect of the war.

On the other hand, no study of the American Civil War should rely exclusively on the Official Records. The accounts contained in the OR were not edited for accuracy, and due to space considerations, only excerpts of reports were often included. Researchers should thus verify the information found in these reports with other source material to gain as complete a picture of events as possible.​

I know this is repetitive, but I go back to an example which was originally in this thread but has been moved or removed by the mods: there was an article in era newspaper that CSA Gen Kirby Smith and others were about to organize a regiment of slaves. Well, first, there is no evidence of that in the OR. Meanwhile, there is documentation in the OR in which indicates Smith's concerns about enslaved men joining the Union army. So, all the data seems to indicate that the newspaper article is false. That's the right way to look at the evidence.

All of these data points have to be plotted to create a clear picture. If we can say as a blanket statement, as the Civil War Trust has, that the OR has no examples of Confederates speaking of blacks under their command; then for example we can make the blanket statement that newspaper records of such are not corroborated in the OR, and perhaps make the judgment that other evidence is needed to prove the newspaper articles' veracity. And also, we know not to waste time looking for such references in the OR, because it's been established that there are none. There is value in determining if this claim made by the Civil War Trust is true.

So: this is all about verifying one particular claim about one set of evidence. There is no intention here to say that the OR are the only evidence we should use.

- Alan
 
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jgoodguy

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Again, the point is not that the OR are the be-all and end-all of Civil War documentation. I think this comment from the Ohio State University is correct:

As primary source material, the Official Records are, without question, the most complete and impartial documentation on the American Civil War. They provide a foundation for serious research into virtually any aspect of the war.

On the other hand, no study of the American Civil War should rely exclusively on the Official Records. The accounts contained in the OR were not edited for accuracy, and due to space considerations, only excerpts of reports were often included. Researchers should thus verify the information found in these reports with other source material to gain as complete a picture of events as possible.​

I know this is repetitive, but I go back to an example which was originally in this thread but has been moved or removed by the mods: there was an article in era newspaper that CSA Gen Kirby Smith and others were about to organize a regiment of slaves. Well, first, there is no evidence of that in the OR. Meanwhile, there is documentation in the OR in which indicates Smith's concerns about enslaved men joining the Union army. So, all the date seems that the newspaper article is false. That's the right way to look at the evidence.

All of these data points have to be plotted to create a clear picture. If we can say as a blanket statement, as the Civil War Trust has, that the OR has no examples of Confederates speaking of blacks under their command; then for example we can make the blanket statement that newspaper records of such are not corroborated in the OR, and perhaps make the judgment that other evidence is needed to prove the newspaper articles' veracity. There is value in determining if this claim made by the Civil War Trust is true.

So: this is all about verifying one particular claim about one set of evidence. There is no intention here to say that the OR are the only evidence we should use.

- Alan
Moved back.
 
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The comment In those... Official Records, no Confederate ever... is a strong statement to make, to be sure, and yes, I wouldn't make it unless I knew it was true. The CWT is putting its reputation on the line by saying this, so one would hope it's true. Let's see if they can be proven wrong in this thread.
The complete phase is "In those same Official Records, no Confederate ever references having black soldiers under his command or in his unit, although references to black laborers are common"

We had a thread which investigates any official evidence, CSR, muster rolls, pension applications and the like for black confederates where a rank of private was sufficent to make the grade. Only a handful were found. I find the assertion by CWT above to be unremarkable based on years of debating Black Confederates here, finding few with reasonable assumptions. I find it more of a challenge to a community to put up or shut up.

We cannot deal with evidence we do not have-- only evidence we have. Outside of the ORs we would expect to see pension applications, obituaries, grave markers, the Confederate Veteran Magazine etc. So if the ORs were greatly lacking in material, there are other sources. The problem is those sources are also mostly silent about Black Confederates confirming the silence of the ORs.
 

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This is from the Civil War Trust article Black Confederates: Truth and Legend:

This is not to say that no black man ever fired a gun for the Confederacy. To be specific, in the “Official Records of the War of the Rebellion,” a collection of military records from both sides which spans more than 50 volumes and more than 50,000 pages, there are a total of seven Union eyewitness reports of black Confederates. Three of these reports mention black men shooting at Union soldiers, one report mentions capturing a handful of armed black men along with some soldiers, and the other three reports mention seeing unarmed black laborers. There is no record of Union soldiers encountering an all-black line of battle or anything close to it.

In those same Official Records, no Confederate ever references having black soldiers under his command or in his unit, although references to black laborers are common.​

Based on the above, it does seem like a person or persons actually did look through the OR and made the observations noted. "Look through the OR" could (and probably) means they did some kind of search, but the methodology they used is not provided.

The comment In those... Official Records, no Confederate ever... is a strong statement to make, to be sure, and yes, I wouldn't make it unless I knew it was true. The CWT is putting its reputation on the line by saying this, so one would hope it's true. Let's see if they can be proven wrong in this thread.

- Alan
They sure did look through the ORs, and the they sure didn't find any black confederate soldiers, besides the guys recruited at the very end. So we'll see some posts how the records are incomplete, which is why Jeb Stuart's battalion of pink war elephants is never mentioned either.

Great thread.
 
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I wonder though, how does Civil War Trust know this to be true? Have they scoured the OR looking for this, or know someone reputable that has? I am not saying it is true or false, but it falls more into speculation in my view. Personally, I would feel very uncomfortable putting forth such a statement without myself having confirmed its veracity.
I would also be curious as to their opinion of the dozen or so reports of Union officers and political leaders that mention armed Black men among Confederate forces ???
 
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