Who were Black Confederates Combatants in the CSA military

WJC

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There are times I think the CSA hated consistency.
Thanks for all of the information on Mr. Nelson.
That inconsistency (in this case, some might view it as hypocrisy) is what fascinates me about the story. If it is to be believed, Nelson was like many a soldier's personal slave, taken along to ease the master's transition into military service and perform much of the drudgery. Circumstances made him the unit's minister, and perhaps (though debatable) even a rifleman.
 

jgoodguy

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Thanks for all of the information on Mr. Nelson.
That inconsistency (in this case, some might view it as hypocrisy) is what fascinates me about the story. If it is to be believed, Nelson was like many a soldier's personal slave, taken along to ease the master's transition into military service and perform much of the drudgery. Circumstances made him the unit's minister, and perhaps (though debatable) even a rifleman.
In the CSA a private on a roster and paid by the CSA may or may not be a combatant and may just be a conscript to clean stuff. The reason was payroll and 3 hots and a cot more than anything. Meme blah
 
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Rebforever

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Thanks for posting the link. I find especially interesting Louis Napoleon Nelson, Confederate Chaplain of the 7th Tennessee Cavalry. I'd like to know more about him, but I don't think he qualifies as a combatant for the purpose of this thread.
Reverend Dabny was in Stonewall's staff and was charged with moving his army from Gordensville, Va. to Hanover Station, Va. He was a Soldier. Stonewall rode back to Richmond to meet with General Lee.
 

jgoodguy

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Reverend Dabny was in Stonewall's staff and was charged with moving his army from Gordensville, Va. to Hanover Station, Va. He was a Soldier. Stonewall rode back to Richmond to meet with General Lee.
CSA Chaplains were most often from the ranks and carried a rifle. Since they were overwhelmingly white, I do not see them in the BC records.
 

Mike Griffith

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Can we include the account of Dr. Lewis Steiner, who was the chief inspector of the U.S. Sanitary Commission, a Republican, and a civil rights advocate who helped establish schools for black children? After watching Stonewall Jackson's army march by him, he said that Jackson's army had about 3,000 black combat troops.

Can we include Union Army reports and unofficial accounts from federal soldiers that mention encountering black CSA combat troops?

I'm guessing the answer to both questions is No. Given the circumstances at the time, there was probably little if any formal documentation on most of the black CSA combat troops.
 

jgoodguy

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Can we include Union Army reports and unofficial accounts from federal soldiers that mention encountering black CSA combat troops?

I'm guessing the answer to both questions is No. Given the circumstances at the time, there was probably little if any formal documentation on most of the black CSA combat troops.

Interesting, but as you well know, the lack of evidence means a lack of evidence. There is no way to infer existence from a lack of proof of existence.

Can we include the account of Dr. Lewis Steiner, who was the chief inspector of the U.S. Sanitary Commission, a Republican, and a civil rights advocate who helped establish schools for black children? After watching Stonewall Jackson's army march by him, he said that Jackson's army had about 3,000 black combat troops.

Please abide by the OP of this thread.

Limited to Black Confederates on roster and paid as combatants by the CSA military.
Evidence please.
Named Individuals preferred.
Mere Rhetoric subject to deletion without warning.

Please discuss

Latest criteria.
Accepted Sources are pension records, CSRs and muster rolls.
Combatants have ranks of private and NCO.
Ranks of Musician, Drummer, Cook, Teamster and so are not Combatants.

If anyone does not like these rules, be elsewhere.

Goodness knows if Dr. Lewis Steiner with all those qualifications saw all those alleged black confederate combat troops, you can surely round up proof of service for a half dozen names or so.
 

CW Buff

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Can we include the account of Dr. Lewis Steiner, who was the chief inspector of the U.S. Sanitary Commission, a Republican, and a civil rights advocate who helped establish schools for black children? After watching Stonewall Jackson's army march by him, he said that Jackson's army had about 3,000 black combat troops.

You can throw it out there. And I can shoot it down.

First, Steiner is very anti-Confederate, and his descriptions of the Confederates seems designed to multiply and exaggerate negatives. So much so, I'm surprised this was not apparent to you. I believe the Confederates were short of some essentials, like shoes, and perhaps their uniforms were not all that uniform, but I don’t believe for a moment they were a slovenly, undisciplined mess compared to the federals. A big feature of Steiner's description of black “combatants” is Confederate hypocrisy. He saw Africans carrying weapons and assumed those low down hypocrites were using slave soldiers.

Second, he describes the black “soldiers” as interspersed throughout the Confederate forces. Are we supposed to believe that the Confederates would mix black and white soldiers together in the same companies, or that black soldiers, if they had existed, would consist of segregated units, as they were in the Union, and as those one or two hundred black Confederate soldiers whipped up during the last few weeks of the Confederacy were? The black “troops” Steiner describes were undoubtedly servants carrying their masters’ loads (haversack, musket, etc.).

Finally, we have the report of the presence in this Confederate force of Howell Cobb, who in 1865 argued against the idea of slave soldiers by saying “The proposition to make soldiers of our slaves is the most pernicious idea that has been suggested since the war began. It is to me a source of deep mortification and regret to see the name of that good and great man and soldier, General R. E. Lee, given as authority for such a policy.” And that's just a small sample.
 

jgoodguy

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You can throw it out there. And I can shoot it down.

First, Steiner is very anti-Confederate, and his descriptions of the Confederates seems designed to multiply and exaggerate negatives. So much so, I'm surprised this was not apparent to you. I believe the Confederates were short of some essentials, like shoes, and perhaps their uniforms were not all that uniform, but I don’t believe for a moment they were a slovenly, undisciplined mess compared to the federals. A big feature of Steiner's description of black “combatants” is Confederate hypocrisy. He saw Africans carrying weapons and assumed those low down hypocrites were using slave soldiers.

Second, he describes the black “soldiers” as interspersed throughout the Confederate forces. Are we supposed to believe that the Confederates would mix black and white soldiers together in the same companies, or that black soldiers, if they had existed, would consist of segregated units, as they were in the Union, and as those one or two hundred black Confederate soldiers whipped up during the last few weeks of the Confederacy were? The black “troops” Steiner describes were undoubtedly servants carrying their masters’ loads (haversack, musket, etc.).

Finally, we have the report of the presence in this Confederate force of Howell Cobb, who in 1865 argued against the idea of slave soldiers by saying “The proposition to make soldiers of our slaves is the most pernicious idea that has been suggested since the war began. It is to me a source of deep mortification and regret to see the name of that good and great man and soldier, General R. E. Lee, given as authority for such a policy.” And that's just a small sample.

Here is the quote.

Wednesday, September 10. At four o clock this morning the rebel army began to move from our town, Jackson s force taking the advance. The movement continued until eight o clock PM., occupying sixteen hours. The most liberal calculations could not give them more than 65,000 men. Over 3,000 negroes must be included in this number. These were clad in all kinds of uniforms, not only in cast-off or captured United States uniforms, but in coats with Southern buttons, State buttons, etc. These were shabby, but not shabbier or seedier than those worn bv white men in the rebel ranks. Most of the negroes had arms, rifles, muskets, sabres, bowie-knives, dirks, etc. They were supplied, in many instances, with knapsacks, haversacks, canteens, etc., and were manifestly an integral portion of the Southern Con federacy Army. They were seen riding on horses and mules, driving wagons, riding on caissons, in ambulances, with the staff of Generals, and promiscuously mixed up with all the rebel horde. The fact was patent, and rather interesting when considered in connection with the horror rebels express at the suggestion of black soldiers being employed for the National defence.
Steiner does not describe them as 'black combat troops'. A negro carrying a saber is not an infantryman. How many carrying rifles or muskets are not mentioned. Bowie knives and dirks would consistent with teamster, cooks or common laborer. Riding on ambulances would be orderlies. Driving wagons are teamsters. With Generals are servants.

So Steiner says he saw 3000 negros, some of which could be soldiers although Howell Cobb's comments suggest otherwise. In short, Steiner saw 3000 blacks, but how many are soldiers approach zero. We have no names on muster rolls.
 

19thGeorgia

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The black “troops” Steiner describes were undoubtedly servants carrying their masters’ loads (haversack, musket, etc.).
What do you base that on? Do you have sources that say it was a regular practice for a servant to carry his master's rifle or musket?
 

CW Buff

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What do you base that on? Do you have sources that say it was a regular practice for a servant to carry his master's rifle or musket?

Do you have sources, other than Steiner's assumptions, that these were black combat soldiers? Do I really need sources for a theory that makes a heck of a lot more sense than the one suggested by the OP? The reasoning should be apparent.

These slaves were interspersed throughout the Confederate units. Are we supposed to believe the Confederates would use black troops AND integrate them rather than forming separate black units, as they tried to do in 1865? That would not even be accepted in the North.

In addition, you have Cobb right there, the guy who completely rejects the idea of black combat soldiers less than two years later, and even bemoans Lee's support for such a proposition. And we are supposed to believe Lee not only did just that back in 1863, when Cobb was right there in his army, but integrated the black troops into white units. Yet in 1865 Cobb speaks of it as something entirely new, the worst idea EVER?

The assertion of integrated Confederate black troops in 1863 is completely detached from reality and logic. And as has been already suggested, if they were combat soldiers as opposed to noncombatants, there should be irrefutable documentary evidence. Short of that evidence, I'd say logic rules.
 

19thGeorgia

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Do you have sources, other than Steiner's assumptions, that these were black combat soldiers?
Steiner didn't make that assumption. It was just his observation that they carried arms.

Do I really need sources...
Yes. Especially if you believe it "undoubtedly."

These slaves were interspersed throughout the Confederate units. Are we supposed to believe the Confederates would use black troops AND integrate them rather than forming separate black units, as they tried to do in 1865? That would not even be accepted in the North.
Don't know anything about this. I had only one question. This has nothing to do with it.
 

19thGeorgia

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My view-

Steiner: "Over 3,000 negroes must be included in this number."

80-90% were servants. The rest were enlisted privates, cooks, teamsters, musicians.

Steiner: "Most of the negroes had arms, rifles, muskets, sabres, bowie-knives, dirks, etc."

These are arms they had gleaned from other battlefields.

Combatants? If they volunteered.
 

CW Buff

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I said:
Do you have sources, other than Steiner's assumptions, that these were black combat soldiers?

Not:
Steiner didn't make that assumption. It was just his observation that they carried arms.

But please, rather than restrict this to my explanation of why they were carrying arms, let's hear yours.
Yes. Especially if you believe it "undoubtedly."

Again, I'd love to hear your counter logic.
Don't know anything about this. I had only one question. This has nothing to do with it.

Nothing, unless you want an idea to make sense, that is.

"It is the theory which decides what can be observed.” ― Albert Einstein

Limit the view, and you don't need to account for the peripheral inconvenient truths.

But, AGAIN, let's eliminate the tunnel vision, and hear your explanation of Steiner's statement.
 

CW Buff

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My view-

Steiner: "Over 3,000 negroes must be included in this number."

80-90% were servants. The rest were enlisted privates, cooks, teamsters, musicians.

Steiner: "Most of the negroes had arms, rifles, muskets, sabres, bowie-knives, dirks, etc."

These are arms they had gleaned from other battlefields.

Combatants? If they volunteered.

Thanks for the explanation. sorry, it came just as I was posting my last.
 

CW Buff

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My view-

Steiner: "Over 3,000 negroes must be included in this number."

80-90% were servants. The rest were enlisted privates, cooks, teamsters, musicians.

I can certainly agree with that. He saw some carrying guns, assumed all were soldiers. But...

The Northern journals say we have negro regiments on the Rappahannock and in the West. This is utterly untrue. We have no armed slaves to fight for us, nor do we fear a servile insurrection. We are at no loss, however, to interpret the meaning of such demonic misrepresentations.. It is to be seen of what value the negro regiments employed against us will be to the invader.” — John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War [Department] Clerks Diary, p. 278, March 22, 1863
Steiner: "Most of the negroes had arms, rifles, muskets, sabres, bowie-knives, dirks, etc."

These are arms they had gleaned from other battlefields.

Why would they just let slaves carry guns they picked up off a battlefield? Doesn't seem to be the kind of example they'd want to set. Slave finds gun, slave keeps gun, slave carries gun, slave uses gun? I'm sure the ANV would collect such arms, and there are indications of such in Steiner's account. Carrying a musket for their master does not make much more sense to you?
Combatants? If they volunteered.

Which would leave a paper trail, correct?

Also, I do not discount the presence of ANY slave combatants. But I see it as more of an 'in a pinch' scenario. This article relates "the case of John Parker, a slave forced to build Confederate barricades and later to join the crew of a cannon firing grapeshot at Union troops at the First Battle of Bull Run. All the while, recalled Parker, he worried about dying, prayed for a Union victory, and dreamed of escaping to the other side."
 
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A Unique North Carolina Confederate Combatant

171375-b5ada84aad02d36ffc3807399fbc22d6.jpg

Confederate 1st Lieutenant William Thomas Jones, Company C, 35th NC Infantry. One of a hand-full of "Free Men Of Color", that served in the "The Moore County Scotch Rifleman".

He was born in the mid-1830’s, the son of a slave, and her white owner, Ambrose Jones. By time time of his death in 1910, William Thomas Jones was one of the prominent business owners in Carthage, Moore County, NC. His obituary appearing in one North Carolina newspaper described him as a “mulatto gentleman", a citizen regarded in all respects as probably the peer of any, living or dead, in usefulness in accomplished purpose ... and withal in the example and model which he has left the present and future generations.” He fraternized with the elite, white, upper class of Carthage and Moore County during the 1880s, dined with them, threw elaborate holiday parties where most of the guests were white, and even attended the Methodist Church with them, where he taught a large Sunday School Class. Both of his wives, Sophia Isabella McLean, and Florence Dockery, were white. Dockery was the daughter of a prominent North Carolina family. Jones was born a slave in Elizabethtown, Bladen County, North Carolina. His White Father owned a large plantation in Carteret County, North Carolina, along the eastern coast. Freed by his father when he was a boy, he moved to Fayetteville, NC where his work as a carriage painter attracted the attention of two Carthage men: Thomas Bethune Tyson, and Alexander Kelly, the County Sheriff. In 1857 they talked Jones into coming to Carthage to take charge of the painting department of their little buggy factory. Two years later, Tyson, Kelly & Co. gave Jones entire charge of the vehicle part of their business. He enlarged the company and its trade grew, until 1861, when the storm-clouds of Civil War began to gather.

Moore County, NC provided several volunteer companies to the Confederate Army. One became Company C, 35th NC Infantry. “The Moore County Scotch Riflemen”. Despite being born into slavery, and his birth-mother being a slave, William volunteered for this company on 9/12/1861, On 11/6/1861, he was duly commissioned a 3rd Lieutenant. After fighting at New Bern, the 35th was ordered to Virginia and assigned to General R. Ransom's and M.W. Ransom's Brigade. It participated in the difficult campaigns of the Army of Northern Virginia, from the Seven Days' Battles, to Fredericksburg. Ordered back to North Carolina, it fought at Boon's Mill and Plymouth, then returned to Virginia in May, 1864. The 35th saw action at Drewry's Bluff, endured the hardships of the Petersburg siege south of the James River, and ended the war at Appomattox. This unit sustained 127 casualties at Malvern Hill, 25 in the Maryland Campaign, 29 at Fredericksburg, and 103 at Plymouth, NC. Many were disabled at Saylor's Creek, VA and on April 9, 1865, it surrendered 5 officers and 111 men.

W.T. was one of over 60 members of the 35th NC. captured at Petersburg, VA. on 6/17/1864. Confined 6/17/1864 at Fort Delaware, he was transferred 8/20/1864 to Hilton Head, SC; becoming one of the "Immortal 600". Ever the entrepreneur, during confinements at Fort Delaware, Hilton Head, SC; Fort Pulaski, GA; back to Hilton Head, and eventually back to Fort Delaware, Jones began picking up potato peelings and saving crusts from bread, to make homemade moonshine. He sold his fiery concoction to the Union prison guards and local townspeople. He was paid in Union currency for his product. He came back to North Carolina with an estimated $3,000 in Yankee greenbacks.
abramfulkerson-jpg.jpg

Colonel Abraham Fulkerson 63rd Tennessee Infantry, captured the same day as 1st Lieutenant William Thomas Jones.

After returning to Fort Delaware, another of the "600", Colonel Abraham Fulkerson of the 63rd Tennessee wrote the following : "The prisoners occupied their time in a variety of ways, many of them at cards. Debating societies were organized, moot courts instituted, for there were many lawyers among us, etc. The inventive genius of the prisoners was developed to a high degree. One man constructed a still, and actually made whiskey without being detected. The product of his still was not of superior quality, but was always in demand at high figures".

William took the Oath of Allegiance 6/16/1865 at Fort Delaware. He and the defeated Confederates from Moore County came home to find utter destruction. Sherman had marched through, people were starving. They couldn’t reopen the buggy company because all they had was Confederate money, and it was worthless, The economy of, and many lives in, Carthage, North Carolina, was doubtless saved with W.T.'s "moonshine" money. That in turn, created an intense loyalty directed toward William the remainder of his days. He outlived his first wife, Sophia Mclean. His second wife, Florence Dockery, was several years younger than he. Both were white, in a day and time when such marriages were illegal, when Blacks were persecuted as well as whites that supported them. After the Civil War, there was a very active vigilante force in this area. Jones ran an unsuccessful campaign for the North Carolina Statehouse in 1902, as a Republican. Until a decade ago, very few in Carthage NC. would acknowledge out loud that Jones was not a white man. Today his home built in 1880, is a very successful Bed & Breakfast appropriately named "The Old Buggy Inn".

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19thGeorgia

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I can certainly agree with that. He saw some carrying guns, assumed all were soldiers. But...

The Northern journals say we have negro regiments on the Rappahannock and in the West. This is utterly untrue. We have no armed slaves to fight for us, nor do we fear a servile insurrection. We are at no loss, however, to interpret the meaning of such demonic misrepresentations.. It is to be seen of what value the negro regiments employed against us will be to the invader.” — John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War [Department] Clerks Diary, p. 278, March 22, 1863
How many campaigns did John Beauchamp Jones see?
None.


Why would they just let slaves carry guns they picked up off a battlefield? Doesn't seem to be the kind of example they'd want to set. Slave finds gun, slave keeps gun, slave carries gun, slave uses gun?
I at least have an example of it. I don't have one for the other idea ('slave carries master's gun').

"The colored men numbered about 40, and having been in service a long time, had gradually armed themselves. Some of them were even better equipped than their masters, for on successful raids and battles they could fallow in the rear and pick up those things that soldiers had no time to secure; so that these coloured servants could each boast of one or two revolvers and a fine carbine or repeating rifle."
https://civilwartalk.com/threads/confederate-body-servants-fight-at-chickamauga.81198/

Carrying a musket for their master does not make much more sense to you?
Does it make sense?
Thousands of privates hand over their arms to be carried by servants while on the march in enemy territory?
No, that does not make sense.
 
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CW Buff

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QUOTE="19thGeorgia, post: 1809438, member: 20106"]How many campaigns did John Beauchamp Jones see?
None.[/QUOTE]

He only clerked in the nerve center for the Confederate war effort. You said:
Combatants? If they volunteered.

He might just have a better idea than anyone else, short of the Scty himself, whether there were volunteer slave combatants in the CSA forces. Not to worry though, "Asked to double-check, Confederate Secretary of War James Seddon confirmed that 'No slaves have been employed by the Government except as cooks or nurses in hospitals and for labor.' " Source.

I at least have an example of it. I don't have one for the other idea ('slave carries master's gun')

Fine, some carried weapons they picked up. I'll concede that. But I have a source that says they were not combatants.

"The Fourth Tennessee Cavalry was dismounted to fight as infantry, every fourth man being told to off to hold horses. These horse-holders, and also all the colored servants, were kept in the rear. The colored men numbered about 40, and having been in service a long time, had gradually armed themselves. Some of them were even better equipped than their masters, for on successful raids and battles they could fallow in the rear and pick up those things that soldiers had no time to secure; so that these coloured servants could each boast of one or two revolvers and a fine carbine or repeating rifle."
https://civilwartalk.com/threads/confederate-body-servants-fight-at-chickamauga.81198/
 
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