The Black Flag


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Cavalry Charger

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The Washington (DC) Daily Intelligencer if 1 Sept. 1862, ran this correspondence from Louisiana:
This is fascinating stuff @John Hartwell . Thanks for sharing. Here we see open discussion of 'black flag' warfare, printed in a newspaper in the form of letters between Commanders! We can see the 'codes of war' in operation, and how in this particular instance they were being played out. There is a sense of 'honor' in these letters, too. Discussion around what is and isn't honorable in the circumstances. It's a window into another world...
 

John Hartwell

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In reaction to Lincoln's announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation, there was quite a bit of wild "black flag" talk in the South:
blkflg4a.png
[Boston Transcript, Oct. 4]​
Many northern newspapers played it up for propaganda value:
blkflg1.png
[Phil. Public Ledger, Oct. 4]​
But, cooler heads prevailed in Richmond, and nothing came of it at that level. There are many newspaper accusations, however, such as:
blkflg3.png

[N.O. Daily Delta, 28 Nov.]​
All of which would have to be examined carefully before judging. There's too much propaganda value here.
 

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In reaction to Lincoln's announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation, there was quite a bit of wild "black flag" talk in the South:
View attachment 132119 [Boston Transcript, Oct. 4]​
Many northern newspapers played it up for propaganda value:
View attachment 132120 [Phil. Public Ledger, Oct. 4]​
But, cooler heads prevailed in Richmond, and nothing came of it at that level. There are many newspaper accusations, however, such as:
View attachment 132121
[N.O. Daily Delta, 28 Nov.]​
All of which would have to be examined carefully before judging. There's too much propaganda value here.
WOW! I think we've hit a goldmine with you @John Hartwell :smile: Keep them coming...
 

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WOW! I think we've hit a goldmine with you @John Hartwell :smile: Keep them coming...
That would be a full-time job, I'm afraid. Using Genealogybank's newspaper archives, I entered "black flag" in the search engine for 1864 alone, and got 6,393 hits. A great many of them are multiple appearances of the same article in different newspapers, or not really relevant to what we are talking about, but still, a LOT of articles to check out. Just too much work, I'm sorry to say (and they download way too slow). There are numerous newspaper archives online, some of them free. I'm sure their papers for the period will have similar results.

Concerning the last two. The 3rd Texas Cav. "black flag", sounds like a bunch of guys just thought it would be "cool" to have a pirate flag -- real "hard-a*s." When they adopted it they probably weren't even thinking of any additional symbolism. Later in the war particularly, such a display by men who had been fighting hard for years, seen too much violence and cruelty on all sides, might well be just reacting out of rage and emotional exhaustion -- I wouldn't put much stock in it. If it could be found to be a determined "policy" authorized by some superior authority ... that would be something completely different.

I'll look through some, and see if I come across anything interesting.
 

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That would be a full-time job, I'm afraid. Using Genealogybank's newspaper archives, I entered "black flag" in the search engine for 1864 alone, and got 6,393 hits. A great many of them are multiple appearances of the same article in different newspapers, or not really relevant to what we are talking about, but still, a LOT of articles to check out. Just too much work, I'm sorry to say (and they download way too slow). There are numerous newspaper archives online, some of them free. I'm sure their papers for the period will have similar results.

Concerning the last two. The 3rd Texas Cav. "black flag", sounds like a bunch of guys just thought it would be "cool" to have a pirate flag -- real "hard-a*s." When they adopted it they probably weren't even thinking of any additional symbolism. Later in the war particularly, such a display by men who had been fighting hard for years, seen too much violence and cruelty on all sides, might well be just reacting out of rage and emotional exhaustion -- I wouldn't put much stock in it. If it could be found to be a determined "policy" authorized by some superior authority ... that would be something completely different.

I'll look through some, and see if I come across anything interesting.
It does sound like a lot of work, going by the number of 'hits', and much of it could be spurious...just guys talking sh** trying to put the fear of God into the enemy.
Kneejerk, retaliatory responses seem to have occurred during the CW, which could come under the guise of 'black flag' and not necessarily be authorised by a superior authority, but 'no quarter' is part of 'policy' and enacted in the 'Lieber Code'. Both Union and Confederate sides are aware of the codes of war, and as we can see from your previous post, are willing to discuss such things openly.
 

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I entered "black flag" in the search engine for 1864 alone, and got 6,393 hits. A great many of them are multiple appearances of the same article in different newspapers, or not really relevant to what we are talking about, but still, a LOT of articles to check out.
Thanks for searching and posting these very interesting articles.
Newspapers at the time copied verbatim reports first posted in other newspapers, often without crediting the originator. In some cases, they acquired the actual newspapers, in others they accessed them from the telegraph.
 

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Thanks for searching and posting these very interesting articles.
Newspapers at the time copied verbatim reports first posted in other newspapers, often without crediting the originator. In some cases, they acquired the actual newspapers, in others they accessed them from the telegraph.
My question is did the Commanders literally send the letters in to the newspapers, as a form of communication and 'outing' the opposition, or did they somehow come to them second hand? Most interesting indeed...
 

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My question is did the Commanders literally send the letters in to the newspapers, as a form of communication and 'outing' the opposition, or did they somehow come to them second hand? Most interesting indeed...
Thanks for your response.
I don't know, but it certainly wouldn't surprise me if some Civil War commanders or politicians were adept at using the media for their own purposes.
 

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Thanks for your response.
I don't know, but it certainly wouldn't surprise me if some Civil War commanders or politicians were adept at using the media for their own purposes.
Times haven't changed much then...although some are more adept than others, no doubt :D

Hopefully someone has the answer to this question...
 
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Thanks for your reply.
Given this and other experiences during the war, together with their pre-war experiences, one wonders how so many Confederate officials deluded themselves into believing by late in the war that slaves could be forced into combat roles in support of the 'peculiar institution'.
They seem to have indeed believed that slavery was not only good for the slaves, but heartily endorsed by the slaves.
"Desperate times calls for desperate measures" No doubt CSA officials were beyond desperate to employ blacks so late in the war. Their simply was no alternative they were out of manpower. Quite a few whit Confederate soldiers deserted with their arms. By employing black soldiers the CSA was taking a huge risk of the same . Not much black desertion happened because by the time the black troops were deployed the war ended.
Leftyhunter
 

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The second Battle of Boonville (sept. 1861) is one of the first instance where the term "Black Flag" was reported, although it was error. As the Missouri State Guard was attacking the Federal fort during a heavy downpour, the had their flag covered in a black, rain proof fabric. Upon seeing this, the union troops thought the MSG troops were announcing their intent for taking no prisoners. The union troops were able to repulse the numourus charges of the MSG, until a truce was called, and he MSG withdrew, giving the Federals a victory.
The First Battle of Boonville was also one of the earliest occurance in the CW where escaped slaves were allowed to be armed and fight against their former masters, giving a very good account for themselves.

A link to the battle---http://www.mogenweb.org/cooper/Military/Negro_Soldiers.pdf&ved=0ahUKEwjr5tj5_KvTAhViHGMKHTkmAjMQFghCMAU&usg=AFQjCNHiFSUkQV8HTL7IK0ROGePUTYamhw&sig2=7FhFAxBn3JU_jnk3b9g6xQ
 

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The second Battle of Boonville (sept. 1861) is one of the first instance where the term "Black Flag" was reported, although it was error. As the Missouri State Guard was attacking the Federal fort during a heavy downpour, the had their flag covered in a black, rain proof fabric. Upon seeing this, the union troops thought the MSG troops were announcing their intent for taking no prisoners. The union troops were able to repulse the numourus charges of the MSG, until a truce was called, and he MSG withdrew, giving the Federals a victory.
The First Battle of Boonville was also one of the earliest occurance in the CW where escaped slaves were allowed to be armed and fight against their former masters, giving a very good account for themselves.

A link to the battle---http://www.mogenweb.org/cooper/Military/Negro_Soldiers.pdf&ved=0ahUKEwjr5tj5_KvTAhViHGMKHTkmAjMQFghCMAU&usg=AFQjCNHiFSUkQV8HTL7IK0ROGePUTYamhw&sig2=7FhFAxBn3JU_jnk3b9g6xQ
This incident was mentioned before in the thread, but with less detail. It was confusing to me at first because I thought the State Guard were part of the Federal force, and wondering why their own men would be afraid of them! You can tell I've got a long way to go...
 

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This incident was mentioned before in the thread, but with less detail. It was confusing to me at first because I thought the State Guard were part of the Federal force, and wondering why their own men would be afraid of them! You can tell I've got a long way to go...
MAybe a long way to go, but I can tell you're trying, and that's the important part.
The history of Missouri in the late unpleasantness is rather convoluted and I would suggest you study the easy things first-like the rest of the war! In general, when the war broke out in the state, (June 1861), it was the Federal gov. Against the governor and the Missouri state guard. Missouri may or may not have succeeded in late Oct of '61 and wasn't recognized by the confederacy until Nov of '61.
See, simple, right? The first and second battles of Boonville involved the Fed. Gov. Vs the MSG.
 

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Alot of times guerrillas and "irregular" forces were not recognized as "legal" belligerents and not subject to the "rules" of civilized warfare. I would imagine A WHOLE BUNCH of them met their end being shot trying to surrender or hanged without legal proceedings after surrendering.
They were.
Hallacks order set the stage for the no quarter warfare that was Missouri, Kansas and some parts of the IT.
 

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At the very start of the war, Stonewall Jackson is said to have advocated a "black flag" policy, though word didn't reach the public until the start of 1864. Citing the Danville Register, the Macon Telegraph for 6 February, reports:
blkflg5.png

The Charleston Mercury of the 18th, neatly turns it around, and says that Congress by its "confiscation acts," and Lincoln by the Emancipation Proclamation were the first real examples of the "black flag." Jackson's proposal, on the other hand, was actually an act of benevolence and humanity!
blkflg4.png
 

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All newspaper talk of the "black flag" (like all atrocity stories) have to be looked at very skeptically. In almost every case there's a heavy dose of propaganda involved. It was a convenient tool to make the other side out to be evil monsters; to intimidate the enemy; to stiffen your own troops to "fight to the last." Sometimes it was to persuade the folks at home that the enemy was truly "on the run."

From a report on Gettysburg in the Augusta Chronicle, July 18, 1863:
blkflg2.png

Part of a story from Port Hudson from he same newspaper, on June 25:
blkflg3.png
 

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At the very start of the war, Stonewall Jackson is said to have advocated a "black flag" policy, though word didn't reach the public until the start of 1864. Citing the Danville Register, the Macon Telegraph for 6 February, reports:

The Charleston Mercury of the 18th, neatly turns it around, and says that Congress by its "confiscation acts," and Lincoln by the Emancipation Proclamation were the first real examples of the "black flag." Jackson's proposal, on the other hand, was actually an act of benevolence and humanity!
Another great post @John Hartwell :smile: It seems Jackson, in many ways, was prophetic in understanding the nature of the war the South was to undertake, and in the understanding of his enemy (literally, considering he knew the military leaders he would contending with). He knew what the South was up against and wanted to be on the offensive from the very beginning.

There are a couple of pieces from these articles that stood out for me:

"The great error, which most of our rulers and people made in the commencement of this struggle was in preparing for a short war or no war at all" - seems like both sides had the same expectations at the start of the war - "Few saw the shape that the contest would assume, the magnitude on which it would be conducted, and the desperation that would characterize our subjugation" - desperate times call for desperate measures, and it seems the aim was indeed subjugation, ironically tied to the freeing of a people subjugated...

"the North deliberately resolved to cut open the goose that had laid the golden eggs, and therefore drew the sword" - very melodramatic. Envy of the South's bounty had a large part to play in the reasons for the war, according to Southerners perceptions

The second article goes on to call the war a "national crime", "a case of national highway robbery and murder", and a "North American invasion of the South" - the solution as proposed by Jackson was to "treat them as highway robbers and murderers" and raise the black flag, which it seems the North had already done (according to this article) by inaugurating such a war. Rather than the 'gentlemanly' war that was expected at the beginning, what transpired was a 'no holds barred' contest in which the winner took all, and Jackson may have foreseen that before anybody else...
 

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