What is the Big Fuss About Black Confederate Soldiers?

lurid

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Jan 3, 2019
I keep reading about Black Confederate soldiers by one group that swears by their existence and by another group that swears by their non-existence. I'm just wondering what these two groups are trying to prove with their assertions? If there were Black Confederates what exactly does that prove? If there were not any black Confederates what does that prove? Does proving that there were black Confederates absolve the Confederates from wanting to sustain and spread slavery? I would say, not even close. Does proving that there were no Black Confederate soldiers prove anything? I would say, not even close.

There were 4 million slaves in 1860 and I read somewhere that the Confederates enlisted 50,000 black troops, but let's pretend that there were 100,000 black Confederates. 100,000 of 4 million equates to 2.5%. 2.5% of slaves were Confederates, but the other 97.5% were left in slavery. Those numbers do not make dent in slavery, so what is the point? Historian Rodger McGrath stated that there were more than a quarter-million free blacks in the south and nearly 4,000 of them were slave masters and owned slaves, owned more than 20,000 black slaves. If McGrath is an accurate historian his assertions have to corroborate that there were indeed Confederate soldiers. But is there any proof that they were combat troops, or were they just part of the war effort? Is there any record of Confederate combat troops? Did any Union soldiers claim that he fought against Confederate black troops? Nevertheless, what does proving that there were Confederate troops even prove?

If there were 2.5% blacks who were enlisted(I don't know the actual percentage) that still leaves the majority of blacks in the south enslaved. The people who are so eagerly to prove the existence of black Confederates are proving what exactly? I know they are not disproving the Confederates Kung Fu Grip on sustaining and spreading slavery. History tells us the Africans sold other Africans to the Europeans and Arabs, which they were placed in servitude, but the majority of blacks slaves stayed in Africa under bondage from other blacks. Blacks sold out blacks because of of self-preservation and other reasons, but slavery still existed. Therefore, these so-called Confederate troops could have opted out of slavery to join the Confederates out of self-preservation or other reasons, but that still left the majority of blacks in the south in servitude.

Again, what are the Confederate soldier advocates trying to prove? What are the Confederate naysayers trying to prove? I personally believe there could have been free blacks along with Confederate soldiers, but so what, and that doesn't prove anything pertaining to slavery.
 

Andersonh1

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I can tell you why it interests me, and this is nothing I haven't posted before. It was the controversy over the topic here on CWT that got me curious about black Confederates. There seemed to be such strong and certain feelings about the subject that I really wanted to look into it for myself and find out what the truth was.

I do think that attempts to make slavery the fundamental issue of the war has a tendency to make what would otherwise be interesting historical details into something more controversial than it should be. Black Confederates are one of those fascinating side stories of the war, no different than any other. It's not a topic that exists to "prove" anything, or it shouldn't be, it's just interesting to study in its own regard. If it proves anything, it's that the war and history and human nature is more complex than we are often led to believe.
 
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lurid

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Jan 3, 2019
I do believe there were Confederate soldiers. I just don't why it is so controversial? I don't get that part about human nature is more complex than what is believed. I think I gave a good description about a facet of human nature: self-preservation. It doesn't seem that complex at all.
 
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Viper21

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My interest in the subject is similar to @Andersonh1 's.

Also, there's a lot of folks who absolutely lose their minds at the mere suggestion that, a black man served the Confederacy of his own choosing. There were some pretty bold assertions, & such made before your time on this forum @lurid. Honestly, the folks poo poo-ing Black Confederates piqued my interest to go looking for information contradictory to their claims.

Throw in the virtue signalling, & I found it a little satisfying to find information that contradicts them. If somebody adamantly informs you that "X" doesn't exist, & btw you're a "xx" if you disagree, wouldn't you find it a little amusing to find information that proves their claims wrong ..?

It's blown my mind why folks deny the existence of Black Confederates. When clearly there were some black men in grey. Does it change anything..? No. Except it proves that the common narratives put forth (even by some folks claiming to be historians), aren't completely accurate. If they aren't telling the whole story on this, what else are they ignoring, or being deceptive about..?
 

C.W. Roden

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Again, what are the Confederate soldier advocates trying to prove? What are the Confederate naysayers trying to prove? I personally believe there could have been free blacks along with Confederate soldiers, but so what, and that doesn't prove anything pertaining to slavery.
Exactly! It has nothing to do with slavery one way or the other.

Truthfully for those who deny the existence of Black Confederate service it has nothing to do with history so much as it had to do with modern politics and defeating people they think of as "neo-Confederates" (whatever their specific definition of the term might be at any given time).
Worse, their attempts to deny the service of Confederates of Color is nothing more than an unfortunate continuation of selective remembering of the Black Experience in America -- or lack of remembering I should say, until the last 30 years or so.
I'd strongly suggest a book called "Black Profiles In Courage" by Kareen Abdul-Jabbar to learn more about how black American military service has been pushed under the rug by academia and why.

 

lurid

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My interest in the subject is similar to @Andersonh1 's.

Also, there's a lot of folks who absolutely lose their minds at the mere suggestion that, a black man served the Confederacy of his own choosing. There were some pretty bold assertions, & such made before your time on this forum @lurid. Honestly, the folks poo poo-ing Black Confederates piqued my interest to go looking for information contradictory to their claims.

Throw in the virtue signalling, & I found it a little satisfying to find information that contradicts them. If somebody adamantly informs you that "X" doesn't exist, & btw you're a "xx" if you disagree, wouldn't you find it a little amusing to find information that proves their claims wrong ..?

It's blown my mind why folks deny the existence of Black Confederates. When clearly there were some black men in grey. Does it change anything..? No. Except it proves that the common narratives put forth (even by some folks claiming to be historians), aren't completely accurate. If they aren't telling the whole story on this, what else are they ignoring, or being deceptive about..?

Maybe one of the naysayers can come in here and tell us their thoughts and prove their assertion, minus the rhetoric? I never looked into this subject personal, but like told you all I was in academia for long time and the one Civil War historian used tell me all the time that there was tens of thousands free blacks in the south and they owned black slaves. If there were free black slave owners there were certainly black Confederates. I told you about the "woke" stuff, and its an artificial front to divert the attention elsewhere. You all know the ring leaders of all this **** comes from the universities, don't ya?
 

lurid

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Joined
Jan 3, 2019
Exactly! It has nothing to do with slavery one way or the other.

Truthfully for those who deny the existence of Black Confederate service it has nothing to do with history so much as it had to do with modern politics and defeating people they think of as "neo-Confederates" (whatever their specific definition of the term might be at any given time).
Worse, their attempts to deny the service of Confederates of Color is nothing more than an unfortunate continuation of selective remembering of the Black Experience in America -- or lack of remembering I should say, until the last 30 years or so.
I'd strongly suggest a book called "Black Profiles In Courage" by Kareen Abdul-Jabbar to learn more about how black American military service has been pushed under the rug by academia and why.

I know all about it, like I told the board and now Viper, I worked in academia for years. Those people who push that stuff don't have black friends, don't live by blacks and their kids don't go to school with any blacks, and that's a fact because I knew them on a practical level. Here's a little psychology: the people who push that stuff and sweep under rug and constantly talk about racism are the most virulent racists. Make no mistake about it.
 

Viper21

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Maybe one of the naysayers can come in here and tell us their thoughts and prove their assertion, minus the rhetoric? I never looked into this subject personal, but like told you all I was in academia for long time and the one Civil War historian used tell me all the time that there was tens of thousands free blacks in the south and they owned black slaves. If there were free black slave owners there were certainly black Confederates. I told you about the "woke" stuff, and its an artificial front to divert the attention elsewhere. You all know the ring leaders of all this **** comes from the universities, don't ya?
Most of the folks I'm referring to, don't post here anymore.

There's no "if". There were definitely some black slave owners. We've discussed some of them in this forum previously.

Agree on academia. I know, & have had discussions with several professors, & multiple students near me (I live in the same county as Washinton & Lee University). Just last week I was interviewed by a student on cancel culture & it's affect on Confederate heritage both locally, & nationally. I couldn't help but to do some interviewing myself. Some of the info revealed was incredibly shocking. The virtue signalling & pressure on campus is tremendous. A free or independent thinker has a pretty uphill struggle at most colleges & universities today. Diversity of thought is shunned (even ridiculed), not encouraged. Pretty sad in my opinion.
 

lurid

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thomas aagaard

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Denmark
There nothing convincing to me in this thread that would disprove that there were black Confederates. They had to be used in the war effort for something, so nobody can debunk that theory. I'm just wondering if any were combat troops, because that's what I am up in the air about?
This is a very common mistake... wanting things disproved. That is not how historical work is done.

In history you prove a positive, not a negative. Otherwise I can claim that Lee had 20.000 green Martians in his army, and you can't disprove it. You can only point out the lack of evidence.

There is zero evidence that 100,000 black men enlisted in the CSA armies.
(if it was true, then more than 10% of CSA soldiers would have been black men)
There is zero evidence that 5,000 black men enlisted in the CSA armies.
There is no reports in the official records from CSA officers about how their regiment of black soldiers did.
There are no letters from CSA soldiers about how they fought side by side with a regiment of of black men.

There is plenty of evidence that it was illegal for black man to enlist as soldiers. (with exception of musicians)
There is plenty of evidence that the CSA congress did not want black men as soldiers. (until early 1865)
There is plenty of evidence that the CSA war department did not want black men as soldiers. (until early 1865)
---

What is clear is that thousands of black men did follow the csa armies. As musicians, cooks, servants, and most importantly, as teamsters. By late war they also made up a large part of the "staff" on CSA hospitals.

If you want to call them black confederates, then yes there where thousands.
But they where not considered enlisted as soldiers by the csa authorities.

We also got sources telling us that a few black men where listed as enlisted on roster rolls.
As Musicians a large number would have gotten into danger... either working as musician or taking care of wounded men.
And some men did manage to get into combat in different ways. But it was not as organized units of black men.

We also know that free black men in both New Orleans and Mobile wanted to serve... (and the CSA war department said no thanks)
And in Tennessee free black men where part of the militia prewar and did show up when the war broke out and clearly wanted to fight for their homes. But where send home or joined as cooks and similar when the militia units where (con)federalized... because it was against CSA army regulations.

Had they been allowed to serve, then calling them CSA soldiers would have been correct.
 

Andersonh1

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I'm just wondering if any were combat troops, because that's what I am up in the air about?

Yes, but not many. Anyone who claims tens of thousands is incorrect, in my view, because I'm not aware of any hard evidence that would support a number like that. But the number was not zero. Black men were enlisted into the Confederate army officially in a number of roles: cooks, teamsters, musicians, etc., and a few have been identified as being enlisted as actual soldiers, some of whom were later discharged because of their race. I do think that the Louisiana Native Guard, a group of 1500 free black men who were volunteer State troops for Louisiana, and the numbers of free black men who volunteered to work or fight early in the war, are an indication that more men would have fought with the CS armies if they'd been officially allowed to do so. There's plenty of anecdotal evidence of "unofficial" black combatants, both slave and free.

Take a look at this thread for some examples of generally non-combat roles that black Southerners enlisted for: https://civilwartalk.com/threads/co...vice-records-of-black-and-mulatto-men.142783/
 
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Viper21

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I been reading this thread a little: https://civilwartalk.com/threads/searching-for-black-confederates-by-kevin-levin.163621/unread

There nothing convincing to me in this thread that would disprove that there were black Confederates. They had to be used in the war effort for something, so nobody can debunk that theory. I'm just wondering if any were combat troops, because that's what I am up in the air about?
Some Black men both slaves, & freemen, were combatants. Some of their own choosing, some out of necessity.

Lots of folks are hung up on the word "Soldier" as a title, & like our Danish friend Thomas points out, "enlisted", meaning officially entered into service as a Soldier. While it is true that Official policy prevented Black men from formally enlisting as Soldiers, nobody denies many thousands of Black men (10's of thousands) were employed into service of the CSA military. Many were slaves, some were freemen. Some were conscripted, some were volunteers. <--- undeniable.

Research Moses Dallas. A CS Naval Pilot who not only died in combat, he negotiated his own salary ($100/mo), which was considerably more than the average Confederate Soldier received.

Research Levi Miller, buried in the county I reside in. His solider's pension has been shared on this site multiple times. He was receiving a pension from Virginia as a Soldier, well before Virginia gave pensions to servants. One of his commanders testified to his ferocity in combat. "No man fought better than...." He was laid to rest in Rockbridge County by Confederate veterans, & his coffin was draped in a Confederate Flag. He's buried in what was formerly an all Black cemetery (Evergreen), & has the largest tombstone in the cemetery with huge C S A embossed on his tombstone.

There's other folks, & examples that, like @Andersonh1 points out, prove the number isn't zero.

Years after getting into these discussions, I still can't figure out why so many are upset by this topic. Doesn't make sense. We're usually told about arguments that I hear absolutely nobody make. Search this forum. We've had some lively discussions on the topic over the years...lol. You could spend dozens of hours just reading those threads. There's tremendous information in them, & lots of evidence proving Black Confederates are not the myth, so many claim.
 

lurid

First Sergeant
Joined
Jan 3, 2019
This is a very common mistake... wanting things disproved. That is not how historical work is done.

In history you prove a positive, not a negative. Otherwise I can claim that Lee had 20.000 green Martians in his army, and you can't disprove it. You can only point out the lack of evidence.

There is zero evidence that 100,000 black men enlisted in the CSA armies.
(if it was true, then more than 10% of CSA soldiers would have been black men)
There is zero evidence that 5,000 black men enlisted in the CSA armies.
There is no reports in the official records from CSA officers about how their regiment of black soldiers did.
There are no letters from CSA soldiers about how they fought side by side with a regiment of of black men.

There is plenty of evidence that it was illegal for black man to enlist as soldiers. (with exception of musicians)
There is plenty of evidence that the CSA congress did not want black men as soldiers. (until early 1865)
There is plenty of evidence that the CSA war department did not want black men as soldiers. (until early 1865)
---

What is clear is that thousands of black men did follow the csa armies. As musicians, cooks, servants, and most importantly, as teamsters. By late war they also made up a large part of the "staff" on CSA hospitals.

If you want to call them black confederates, then yes there where thousands.
But they where not considered enlisted as soldiers by the csa authorities.

We also got sources telling us that a few black men where listed as enlisted on roster rolls.
As Musicians a large number would have gotten into danger... either working as musician or taking care of wounded men.
And some men did manage to get into combat in different ways. But it was not as organized units of black men.

We also know that free black men in both New Orleans and Mobile wanted to serve... (and the CSA war department said no thanks)
And in Tennessee free black men where part of the militia prewar and did show up when the war broke out and clearly wanted to fight for their homes. But where send home or joined as cooks and similar when the militia units where (con)federalized... because it was against CSA army regulations.

Had they been allowed to serve, then calling them CSA soldiers would have been correct.

Albeit I appreciate your post it was very insightful, but I would love to know who you are lecturing on how history works? I specifically said in my OP that there are people who are naysayers who claim that there was a zero percentage of black Confederates, which they were/are adamant that was virtually impossible, so I would love for them to prove there assertions which is synonymous with disproving black Confederates.
 

Yankee Brooke

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Who cares? Were there a few? Probably, I suppose. Why does it matter to either side whether there were or not, to the point where they bicker like children? What does it change about the subject of the Civil War? Or the Confederacy? Or the Union? Or Lincoln?

Absolutely nothing, so what's everyone's point?
 

Viper21

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Who cares? Were there a few? Probably, I suppose. Why does it matter to either side whether there were or not, to the point where they bicker like children? What does it change about the subject of the Civil War? Or the Confederacy? Or the Union? Or Lincoln?

Absolutely nothing, so what's everyone's point?
Everybody has their own unique interests, knowledge, & areas of study. Plenty of folks find particular facets of the war more interesting than others. It's part of the reason why this site has so many different forums, & sub forums, dedicated to individual topics of interest.

For me personally, even being an active member for five years, there's forums I've never read, or posted in. Mostly because those topics don't interest me. I'm certainly not perusing the Ladies Tea Forum often, & have never critiqued the discussions there. :wink:
 

Yankee Brooke

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Everybody has their own unique interests, knowledge, & areas of study. Plenty of folks find particular facets of the war more interesting than others. It's part of the reason why this site has so many different forums, & sub forums, dedicated to individual topics of interest.

For me personally, even being an active member for five years, there's forums I've never read, or posted in. Mostly because those topics don't interest me. I'm certainly not perusing the Ladies Tea Forum often, & have never critiqued the discussions there. :wink:
I was, at first, somewhat interested as well. However seeing how the discussions quickly turned made me rethink entering more than a few of the threads about this subject.

Care. Be interested. Great! I just don't see why it's apparently important enough that we have to fight about it all the time. There's very little, if any fighting over in the Ladies' Tea Forum. However I suspect we'd get side eye and judgement if we suddenly started fighting over which whether or not camp followers existed and who counts as one or was there for a legitimate purpose...
 

Quaama

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I would like to know why the doubt over black Confederate soldiers? What is the reasoning and thinking of it?

I suspect the doubt arises because it does not fit in with some people's image of the Confederacy and those who served it.

The Confederacy was served and supported by many people of varying disposition and status, black and white (although predominately white). To discount someone as being black because they are 'mulatto' or some other variation seems a little insulting to those who were black to thus claim they were not black enough to be counted as such. I'm sure they were regarded as black in their communities and in any CS unit in which they may have served. Just as they were recognised then for who they were (heritage-wise), they are so today and I'm sure it would be very insulting today if a black person were told he can't be counted as black because his skin tone is not dark enough.
 

thomas aagaard

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Albeit I appreciate your post it was very insightful, but I would love to know who you are lecturing on how history works? I specifically said in my OP that there are people who are naysayers who claim that there was a zero percentage of black Confederates, which they were/are adamant that was virtually impossible, so I would love for them to prove there assertions which is synonymous with disproving black Confederates.
You.
You wrote in the post I quoted that the other topic did not disprove the existence. You should never expect something to be disproved.
It is up to you to prove the existence of something. It it not up to everyone else to disprove it.

So if you think there where black confederates, then it is you who have to prove it.

And depending on the definition of black confederate used, that is very very easy... or near impossible.*
(Since the goalpost can be placed where ever you want it placed)



*until early 1865, that is.
 
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