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Black Confederates in the Civil War by Scott K. Williams  Introduction  Noted Examples  More Accounts  Problems with Documentation  Estimating the Overall Number  Changing Attitudes in the Confederacy  Harsh Treatment of Southern Blacks by Union Troops   What About Missouri Black Confederates? Introduction Black Confederates? Why haven’t we heard more about them? National Park Service historian, Ed Bearrs, stated, “I don’t want to call it a conspiracy to ignore the role of Blacks both above and below the Mason-Dixon line, but it was definitely a tendency that began around 1910” Historian, Erwin L. Jordan, Jr., calls it a “cover-up” which started back in 1865. He writes, “During my research, I came across instances where Black men stated they were soldiers, but you can plainly see where ‘soldier’ is crossed out and ‘body servant’ inserted, or ‘teamster’ on pension applications.” Another black 

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    Black Confederates in the Civil War

    by Scott K. Williams

    Introduction Noted Examples More Accounts Problems with Documentation Estimating the Overall Number Changing Attitudes in the Confederacy Harsh Treatment of Southern Blacks by Union Troops What About Missouri Black Confederates?


    Black Confederates? Why havent we heard more about them? National Park Servicehistorian, Ed Bearrs, stated, I dont want to call it a conspiracy to ignore the role ofBlacks both above and below the Mason-Dixon line, but it was definitely a tendencythat began around 1910 Historian, Erwin L. Jordan, Jr., calls it a cover-up whichstarted back in 1865. He writes, During my research, I came across instances whereBlack men stated they were soldiers, but you can plainly see where soldier is crossedout and body servant inserted, or teamster on pension applications. Another black

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    historian, Roland Young, says he is not surprised that blacks fought. He explains thatsome, if not most, Black southerners would support their country and that bydoing so they were demonstrating its possible to hate the system of slavery and loveones country. This is the very same reaction that most African Americans showedduring the American Revolution, where they fought for the colonies, even though the

    British offered them freedom if they fought for them.

    It has been estimated that over 65,000 Southern blacks were in the Confederateranks. Over 13,000 of these, saw the elephant also known as meeting the enemy incombat. These Black Confederates included both slave and free. The ConfederateCongress did not approve blacks to be officially enlisted as soldiers (except asmusicians), until late in the war. But in the ranks it was a different story. ManyConfederate officers did not obey the mandates of politicians, they frequently enlisted

    blacks with the simple criteria, Will you fight? Historian Ervin Jordan, explains thatbiracial units were frequently organized by local Confederate and State militiaCommanders in response to immediate threats in the form of Union raids. Dr.Leonard Haynes, a African-American professor at Southern University, stated, Whenyou eliminate the black Confederate soldier, youve eliminated the history of theSouth.

    As the war came to an end, the Confederacy took progressive measures to build backup it's army. The creation of the Confederate States Colored Troops, copied after thesegregated northern colored troops, came too late to be successful. Had theConfederacy been successful, it would have created the world's largest armies (at thetime) consisting of black soldiers, even larger than that of the North. This would havegiven the future of the Confederacy a vastly different appearance than what modernday racist or anti-Confederate liberals conjecture. Not only did Jefferson Davisenvision black Confederate veterans receiving bounty lands for their service, therewould have been no future for slavery after the goal of 300,000 armed black CSAveterans came home after the war.

    Noted Examples:

    1. The "Richmond Howitzers" were partially manned by black militiamen. Theysaw action at 1st Manassas (or 1st Battle of Bull Run) where they operated

    battery no. 2. In addition two black regiments, one free and one slave,participated in the battle on behalf of the South. Many colored people werekilled in the action, recorded John Parker, a former slave.

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    2. At least one Black Confederate was a non-commissioned officer. JamesWashington, Co. D 35th Texas Cavalry, Confederate States Army, became its3rd Sergeant. Higher ranking black commissioned officers served in militiaunits, but this was on the State militia level (Louisiana) and not in the regularC.S. Army.

    3. Free black musicians, cooks, soldiers and teamsters earned the same pay aswhite confederate privates. This was not the case in the Union army where

    blacks did not receive equal pay. At the Confederate Buffalo Forge inRockbridge County, Virginia, skilled black workers "earned on average threetimes the wages of white Confederate soldiers and more than most Confederatearmy officers ($350- $600 a year).

    4. Dr. Lewis Steiner, Chief Inspector of the United States Sanitary Commissionwhile observing Gen. "Stonewall" Jackson's occupation of Frederick,Maryland, in 1862: "Over 3,000 Negroes must be included in this number[Confederate troops]. 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 thoseworn by white men in the rebel ranks. Most of the Negroes had arms, rifles,muskets, sabers, bowie-knives, dirks, etc.....and were manifestly an integral

    portion of the Southern Confederate Army."

    5. Frederick Douglas reported, There are at the present moment many Colored

    men in the Confederate Army doing duty not only as cooks, servants andlaborers, but real soldiers, having musket on their shoulders, and bullets in theirpockets, ready to shoot down any loyal troops and do all that soldiers may do todestroy the Federal government and build up that of therebels.

    6. Black and white militiamen returned heavy fire on Union troops at the Battleof Griswoldsville (near Macon, GA). Approximately 600 boys and elderly menwere killed in this skirmish.

    7. In 1864, President Jefferson Davis approved a plan that proposed the

    emancipation of slaves, in return for the official recognition of the Confederacyby Britain and France. France showed interest but Britain refused.

    8. The Jackson Battalion included two companies of black soldiers. They sawcombat at Petersburg under Col. Shipp. "My men acted with utmost promptnessand goodwill...Allow me to state sir that they behaved in an extraordinaryacceptable manner."

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    9. Recently the National Park Service, with a recent discovery, recognized that

    blacks were asked to help defend the city of Petersburg, Virginia and wereoffered their freedom if they did so. Regardless of their official classification,

    black Americans performed support functions that in today's army many would

    be classified as official military service. The successes of white Confederatetroops in battle, could only have been achieved with the support these loyal

    black Southerners.

    10. Confederate General John B. Gordon (Army of Northern Virginia) reportedthat all of his troops were in favor of Colored troops and that its adoptionwould have greatly encouraged the army. Gen. Lee was anxious to receiveregiments of black soldiers. The Richmond Sentinel reported on 24 Mar 1864,Nonewill deny that our servants are more worthy of respect than the motleyhordes which come against us. Bad faith [to black Confederates] must beavoided as an indelible dishonor.

    11. In March 1865, Judah P. Benjamin, Confederate Secretary Of State,promised freedom for blacks who served from the State of Virginia. Authorityfor this was finally received from the State of Virginia and on April 1st 1865,$100 bounties were offered to black soldiers. Benjamin exclaimed, Let us sayto every Negro who wants to go into the ranks, go and fight, and you arefreeFight for your masters and you shall have your freedom. ConfederateOfficers were ordered to treat them humanely and protect them from "injustice

    and oppression".

    12. A quota was set for 300,000 black soldiers for the Confederate StatesColored Troops. 83% of Richmond's male slave population volunteered forduty. A special ball was held in Richmond to raise money for uniforms forthese men. Before Richmond fell, black Confederates in gray uniforms drilledin the streets. Due to the war ending, it is believed only companies or squads ofthese troops ever saw any action. Many more black soldiers fought for the

    North, but that difference was simply a difference because the North institutedthis progressive policy more sooner than the more conservative South. Black

    soldiers from both sides received discrimination from whites who opposed theconcept .

    13. Union General U.S. Grant in Feb 1865, ordered the capture of all theNegro men before the enemy can put them in their ranks. Frederick Douglaswarned Lincoln that unless slaves were guaranteed freedom (those in Union

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    controlled areas were still slaves) and land bounties, they would take up armsfor the rebels.

    14. On April 4, 1865 (Amelia County, VA), a Confederate supply train wasexclusively manned and guarded by black Infantry. When attacked by Federal

    Cavalry, they stood their ground and fought off the charge, but on the secondcharge they were overwhelmed. These soldiers are believed to be from "MajorTurner's" Confederate command.

    15. A Black Confederate, George _____, when captured by Federals was bribedto desert to the other side. He defiantly spoke, "Sir, you want me to desert, andI ain't no deserter. Down South, deserters disgrace their families and I am nevergoing to do that."

    16. Former slave, Horace King, accumulated great wealth as a contractor to theConfederate Navy. He was also an expert engineer and became known as theBridge builder of the Confederacy. One of his bridges was burned in aYankee raid. His home was pillaged by Union troops, as his wife pleaded formercy.

    17. One black C. S. Navy seaman was among the last Confederates tosurrender, aboard the CSS Shenandoah, six months after the war ended. Atleast two blacks served as Navy pilots with the rank of Warrant Officer. One,William Bugg, piloted the CSS Sampson, and another, Moses Dallas, was

    considered the best inland pilot of the C.S. Navy. Dallas piloted the SavannahRiver squadron and was paid $100 a month until the time he was killed by theenemy during the capture of USS Water Witch.

    18. Nearly 180,000 Black Southerners, from Virginia alone, provided logisticalsupport for the Confederate military. Many were highly skilled workers. Theseincluded a wide range of jobs: nurses, military engineers, teamsters, ordnancedepartment workers, brakemen, firemen, harness makers, blacksmiths,wagonmakers, boatmen, mechanics, wheelwrights, ect. In the 1920'SConfederate pensions were finally allowed to some of those workers that were

    still living. Many thousands more served in other Confederate States.

    19. During the early 1900s, many members of the United ConfederateVeterans (UCV) advocated awarding former slaves rural acreage and a home.There was hope that justice could be given those slaves that were once

    promised forty acres and a mule but never received any. In the 1913Confederate Veteran magazine published by the UCV, it was printed that this

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    plan If not Democratic, it is [the] Confederate thing to do. There was muchgratitude toward former slaves, which thousands were loyal, to the lastdegree, now living with total poverty of the big cities. Unfortunately, their

    proposal fell on deaf ears on Capitol Hill.

    20. During the 5oth Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg in 1913,arrangements were made for a joint reunion of Union and Confederate veterans.The commission in charge of the event made sure they had enoughaccommodations for the black Union veterans, but were completely surprisedwhen unexpected black Confederates arrived. The white Confederatesimmediately welcomed their old comrades, gave them one of their tents, andsaw to their every need. Nearly every Confederate reunion including those

    blacks that served with them, wearing the gray.

    21. The first military monument in the US Capitol that honors an African-American soldier is the Confederate monument at Arlington National cemetery.The monument was designed 1914 by Moses Ezekiel, a Jewish Confederate.Who wanted to correctly portray the racial makeup in the Confederate Army.A black Confederate soldier is depicted marching in step with whiteConfederate soldiers. Also shown is one white soldier giving his child to a

    black woman for protection.- source: Edward Smith, African Americanprofessor at the American University, Washington DC.

    22. Black Confederate heritage is beginning to receive the attention it deserves.

    For instance, Terri Williams, a black journalist for the Suffolk Virginia Pilotnewspaper, writes: Ive had to re-examine my feelings toward the[Confederate] flagIt started when I read a newspaper article about an elderly

    black man whose ancestor worked with the Confederate forces. The man spokewith pride about his family members contribution to the cause, was

    photographed with the [Confederate] flag draped over his lapthats why Inow have no definite stand on just what the flag symbolizes, because it nolonger is their history, or my history, but our history.


    Charles Kelly Barrow, et.al. Forgotten Confederates: An Anthology About Black Southerners (1995).Currently the best book on the subject.Ervin L. Jordan, Jr. Black Confederates and Afro-Yankees in Civil War Virginia (1995). Well researchedand very good source of information on Black Confederates, but has a strong Union bias.Richard Rollins. Black Southerners in Gray (1994). Excellent source.Dr. Edward Smith and Nelson Winbush, Black Southern Heritage. An excellent educational video. Mr.Winbush is a descendent of a Black Confederate and a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans(SCV).

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    Author, Historian William C. Davis on Black Confederates:

    Noted Civil War historian/Author William C. Davis writes about the forgottenblack Confederates: "One of the lost chapters of Civil War history has been thepassive and even active support that many southern blacks, free and slave, gave to the

    Confederacy. "Forgotten Confederates" illuminates the overlooked facet of thisseemingly contradictory behavior by a group of African Americans who appear tohave thought of themselves as Southerners first and blacks second. NeitherConfederate history, nor black studies, can afford to ignore it."

    More Accounts of Black Confederates:

    A letter by a Federal officer:Col. Giles Smith commanded the First Brigade and Col. T. Kilby Smith, Fifty-fourthOhio, the Fourth. I communicated to these officers General Sherman's orders andcharged Colonel Smith, Fifty-fourth Ohio, specially with the duty of clearing away theroad to the crossing and getting it into the best condition for effecting our crossingthat he possibly could. The work was vigorously pressed under his immediatesupervision and orders, and he devoted himself to it with as much energy and activityas any living man could employ. It had to be prosecuted under the fire of the enemy'ssharpshooters, protected as well as the men might be by our skirmishers on the bank,

    who were ordered to keep up so vigorous a fire that the enemy should not dare to lifttheir heads above their rifle-pits; but the enemy, and especially theirarmed negroes,did dare to rise and fire, and did serious execution upon our men. The casualties inthe brigade were 11 killed, 40 wounded, and 4 missing; aggregate, 55. Veryrespectfully, your obedient servant,

    D. STUART,Brigadier-General, Commanding."

    Problems with Documenting Black Confederates

    1. Muster Rolls: Virtually all Confederate muster rolls do not contain any racialinformation. While it is fairly easy to identify American Indians and Hispanics bytheir non-Anglo names, most blacks, on the other hand, adopted European names.Although some individuals can be assumed to be slaves for lacking last names, but

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    free blacks are virtually indistinguishable from their white comrades-in-arms. Forinstance, brothers, Arthur and Miles Reed both served as Privates in Co.D, 3rd NCArtillery (also in the 40th NC Infantry), but Broadfoot's Confederate roster (index of

    National Archives' service records) does not in any way identify them as black. Due tothese difficulties, secondary sources including pension records, United Confederate

    Veteran files, and family records must supplement research in suspected blacksoldiers.It should also should be noted that for some States, muster roll records are notoriouslyincomplete for a variety of reasons. For example in Alabama, many of this militaryrecords were destroyed or conveniently lost rather than hand them over to the Federalgovernment where persecution of ex-Confederate was a very real possibility. InMissouri, a serious attempt to compile Confederate muster records did not begin until1908, by that time many rolls were lost and many veterans had already passed away.As a result, the completeness of Confederate muster rolls are a recognized problem,not only for the black Confederate descendant but for many white Confederatesoldiers as well.

    2. Pension records: Only those surviving to pension age, or were aware of this benefit,or were fortunate enough to overcome postwar anti-Negro prejudice. Since pensionfiles were controlled by State authority, they were often subject to a local countyreview board. This caused considerably differences in various States and from countyto county. South Carolina, for instance, recorded 30 black Confederates pensioners inone county (York County) alone, Tennessee claimed 267, while the State of Missouri,which was rather hesitant to issue pensions to anyone, let alone to black Confederates,

    appears to have not issued any. Discrimination towards black Confederates wasanother real problem. For example, in South Carolina white Confederates could applyfor old age pensions as early as 1887. Black veterans were denied pensions until 1923.By that time the majority of them were deceased.One of the best resources about Black Confederates is the book, "ForgottenConfederates: An Anthology about Black Southerners", by Charles Kelly Barrow, J.H. Segars and R.B. Rosenburg. Not only packed full of very good historical accounts,it lists the names of hundreds of black Confederate veterans who received pensionsfor their service. While it is far from being comprehensive, it is the best resourceavailable to date.

    3. Classification: One must understand what is meant by the term, "blackConfederate". Most black Confederate were NOT what one would considered as a"soldier" in the nineteenth century sense of the word. There was and still remainstoday an old bigoted argument that this "old boy was not a soldier but a slave" ? Wellthis is the same mindset that opposed compensation for black Confederates back in1923. To be truthful and nondiscriminatory we must look either at their counterpart in

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    the Union army or in today's modern army. Did U.S. servicemen ever serve as stableassistants, aides to Commissioned officers, cooks, teamsters, ect ? They certainly did.Plus many eye witness accounts of black Confederates testify that even some in these

    positions did occasionally carry arms. It would be wrong to claim that the bulk ofblack Confederates working in factories, repair shops, and hospitals far away from the

    battlefields, were soldiers even in today's standard. Most of these would NOT beconsidered "soldiers" but "employees of the Army". Nether the less we must becareful not to continuing to inject nineteenth century discriminatory bias on men thatin today's Army would be considered soldiers. If they were serving on the battlefieldor immediately behind frontlines of battle performing military service, then we shouldconsider the modern Army equivalent. Unfortunately since we must use muster rolls,and other 1861-1865 era documents, many of these Southern black patriots will beforever unknown and forgotten. We must do the best we can to see that the few werecan document are not forgotten.

    Confederate soldier leaving child behind in the care of a slave. Confederate

    monument at Arlington National Cemetery, designed by Moses Ezekiel.

    Estimates of Black Confederate Serving the South

    How many black Confederates served the South in combat or direct battlefield support? The numbers vary wildly from 15,000 to 120,000. The truth remains that nobodyhas an accurate figure. My estimate is that 65,000 blacks scattered across the entireSouth followed the Confederate armies from one battlefield to the next from 1861 to1865. Larger numbers of blacks loyally served the Confederacy, not as soldiers but as

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    employees of the Army, Navy, Confederate government or the individual Stategovernments.

    Where does this estimate of 65,000 come from ?

    Dr. Steiner, Chief Inspector of the United States Sanitary Commission, observed thatGen. "Stonewall" Jackson's troops in occupation of Frederick, Maryland, in 1862:"Over 3,000 Negroes must be included in this number [Confederate troops]. Thesewere clad in all kinds of uniforms, not only in cast-off or captured United Statesuniforms, but in coats with Southern buttons, State buttons, etc. These were shabby,

    but not shabbier or seedier than those worn by white men in the rebel ranks. Most ofthe Negroes had arms, rifles, muskets, sabers, bowie-knives, dirks, etc.....and weremanifestly an integral portion of the Southern Confederate Army."

    If we assume Dr. Steiner is somewhat reliable and assume that this 3,000 Negroes ofJackson's troops are a representative number of black Confederates in a typicalConfederate fighting force, then we may be able to make a rough calculation. First wemust determine how many men were part of Jackson's troops ? If Lee had 50,000, wasJackson's force, 25,000 ? That would be a likely estimate. So then what percentage is3,000 of 25,000 ? Answer: 12 %. So that would tell us that 12% of Jackson's forcewas black Confederates. Now, if we assume that Steiner meant 3,000 blackssoldiers in Lee's entire 50,000 force that crossed the Potomac, then the percentage of

    black Confederates is reduced to 6%. Either way it is calculated, black Confederates

    were a considerable percentage of the total Confederate fighting force.

    To extend this reasoning across the entire Confederate Army, what does this represent? That depends on the total number of men that served in the CS Army, which is alsoin itself debatable as muster rolls are notoriously incomplete.

    For example, let's use for example the 1,000,000 listed names in Broadfoot'sConfederate roster compiled by the National Archives. Yes, there is some repeat

    names, but let's use that figure as an example. What percentage is 12% ? This wouldtranslate to 120,000 black Confederates and half that, 60,000. As such, the 65,000estimate is not an unreasonable estimate. Debatable ? Yes. Refutable ? Absolutely not.Black Confederates imaginary ? Ridiculous

    Could Dr. Steiner have been wrong regarding the numbers ? Yes, absolutely. In fact,

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    many Army officers routinely made mistakes at estimating the enemies numericalstrengths. However, the smaller the body of troops one is estimating, the more likelythat number is correct. While Steiner failed to accurately estimate Lee's total forces (Irecall he estimated 80,000 instead of 50,000), in my opinion, it is unlikely he erred assignificantly with a handful of 3,000 black troops. So even if Steiner made an

    overestimate of 30%, we still are in the range of 40,000 to 80,000.

    Changing Attitudes in the Confederacy

    Black Confederate soldier depicted marching in rank with white Confederate

    soldiers. This is taken from the Confederate monument at Arlington National

    Cemetery. Designed by Moses Ezekiel, a Jewish Confederate erected in 1908.

    Ezekiel depicted the Confederate Army as he himself witnessed. As such, it is

    the one of the first monument, if not the first, honoring a black American

    soldier. (Photo by Bob Crowell)

    President Jefferson Davis: "Give Up the Negro Slave"

    "No effort must be spared to add largely to our effective force as promptly aspossible. The sources of supply are to be found in restoring to the army all who areimproperly absent, putting an end to substitution, modifying the exemption law,restricting details, and placing in the ranks such of the able-bodied men nowemployed as wagoners, nurses, cooks, and other employees as are doing service forwhich the negroes may be found competent."

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    "As between the loss of independence and the loss of slavery, we assume that

    every patriot will freely give up the latter--give up the negro slave rather than be aslave himself. If we are correct in this assumption it only remains to show how thisgreat national sacrifice is, in all human probabilities, to change the current of success

    and sweep the invader from our country," [Reprinted in the Richmond, Va., Dispatch,August 5, 1904.]

    It is wrong to think that most in the Confederate ranks were opposed to therevolutionary idea of enlisting slaves as soldiers for the C.S. Colored Troops, modeledafter its northern counterpart. In fact, the majority of Confederate soldiers fullysupported the idea. Of course, there were many that opposed the idea.

    For example, eleven men of the 12th Kentucky Cavalry signed a petition that they

    were adamantly opposed to Negro equality as soldiers. Furthermore this petition alsodenounces anyone who is an advocate for putting the Negro into the army as officialsoldiers. It states they are, "either whiped or are aspirants for office. They are mostly

    playouts that are walking the streets of every town in the South with the bars or starson their collar. They are afraid to face the yankies any longer but want the Negro tofight for there liberty." Nothing can be further from the truth regarding themotivations of progressively minded Confederates.

    Regardless of the personal prejudices of these eleven Confederates, who wereapparently in the minority. For instance, nearly 400 officers and enlisted men fromthe 2nd, 7th, and 11th Kentucky Cavalry signed a petition asking the ConfederateCongress to approve the policy of using Negroes as official soldiers. These were NOT"whipped men" or "aspirants for office", as the disgruntled eleven men of the 12thKentucky claim. But battle-hardened men that knew how to be victorious. As theystate, "to win our independence we should resort to every honorable means andcheerfully make every sacrifice. We know the fate that awaits us should the enemysucceed in crushing our gallant armies, and rather than submit let us exhaust everyresource and use every means of defeating him." While their petition states theyapprove of Negro soldiers, this is not a condition to their continued fighting, as isstated, "we will, on the battlefield, submit to the arbitrament of the sword, the issue ofindependence or subjugation, and prove our determination to die freeman rather thanlive slaves." And to make sure their petition was heard, they chose one of theirofficers, Lt. Col. James Bennett McCreary, to personally deliver the petition to theC.S. Congress.

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    The fact is, the Confederacy contained men of very diverse opinions, just as it was

    in the North. It is simply bad history for anyone to uphold eleven soldiers as definingthe general attitude of the Confederate ranks and ignore a petition of much greatermagnitude.

    While it is true that Confederate Vice President Alexander Stevens once stated,"Our new government's foundations are laid...upon the great truth that the Negro isnot equal to the white man, that slavery...is his natural and normal condition."However, It is a false assumption to believe that Stevens had control over the destinyof the Confederacy. Jefferson Davis also opposed changing the status quo of the OldSouth but by 1865 the Davis administration was announcing to slaves in Virginia,"Let us say to every Negro who wants to go into the ranks, go and fight, and you arefree...Fight for your masters and you shall have your freedom."

    While books frequently quote stubborn hard-nosed Confederate Congressmen, likeSen. Robert Hunter and Howell Cobb as examples of the never dying devotion toslavery. Not to mention the short sighted, General Robert Toombs, that stated, "Theworst calamity that could befall us would be to gain our independence by the valor ofour slaves." This fails to recognize the changing attitudes that were gradually comingabout in the South. For instance, the majority of men in the Confederate Congresseventually disagreed with Toombs' assessment, as Congress in 1865 authorized for theenlistment of 300,000 blacks for the Confederate States Colored Troops. Among thelast orders was for Confederate Officers were ordered to treat them humanely and

    protect them from "injustice and oppression". Let us remember that these last actswould have shaped the destiny of the Confederacy. If the South would have won thewar, it is quite obvious that it would not be long before slavery would have crumbled..

    Robert E. Lee's Views on C.S. Colored Troops:

    Hd Qs CS Armies27th March 1865

    Lt Gen RS Ewell

    Commdg General,General Lee directs me to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 25th inst: andto say that he much regrets the unwillingness of owners to permit their slaves to enter

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    the service. If the state authorities can do nothing to get those negroes who are willingto join the army, but whose masters refuse their consent, there is no authority to do itat all. What benefit they expect their negroes to be to them, if the enemy occupies thecountry, it is impossible to say. He hopes you will endeavor to get the assistance ofcitizens who favor the measure, and bring every influence you can to bear. When a

    negro is willing, and his master objects, there would be less objection to compulsion,if the state has the authority. It is however of primary importance that the negroesshould know that the service is voluntary on their part. As to the name of the troops,the general thinks you cannot do better than consult the men themselves. His onlyobjection to calling them colored troops was that the enemy had selected thatdesignation for theirs. But this has no weight against the choice of the troops and herecommends that they be called colored or if they prefer, they can be called simplyConfederate troops or volunteers. Everything should be done to impress them with theresponsibility and character of their position, and while of course due respect andsubordination should be exacted, they should be so treated as to feel that theirobligations are those of any other soldier and their rights and privileges dependent inlaw & order as obligations upon others as upon theirselves. Harshness andcontemptuous or offensive language or conduct to them must be forbidden and theyshould be made to forget as soon as possible that they were regarded as menials. Youwill readily understand however how to conciliate their good will & elevate the toneand character of the men....Very respy.

    Your obt. servt.Chaarles MarshallLt. Col & AAGHd. Qts. CS Armies

    30th March 1865Lt Gen RS EwellCommdg General,

    General Lee directs me to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 29th inst: andto say that he regrets very much to learn that owners refuse to allow their slaves toenlist. He deems it of great moment that some of this force should be put in the fieldas soon as possible, believing that they will remove all doubts as to the expediency ofthe measure. He regrets it the more in the case of the owners about Richmond,inasmuch as the example would be extremely valuable, and the present posture of

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    military affairs renders it almost certain that if we do not get these men, they will soonbe in arms against us, and perhaps relieving white Federal soldiers from guard duty inRichmond. He desires you to press this view upon the owners.He says that he regards it as very important that immediate steps be taken to put therecruiting in operation, and has so advised the department. He desires to have you

    placed in general charge of it, if agreeable to you, as he thinks nothing can beaccomplished without energetic and intelligent effort by someone who fullyappreciates the vital importance of the duty....Very respyYour obt servtCharles MarshallLt col & AAGsource: Richards S. Ewell Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.

    Harsh Treatment of Southern Blacks by Union Army:

    Another reason some blacks sided with the South.

    The "freedpeople throughout the Union-occupied South often toiled harder and longerunder Federal officers and soldiers than they had under slave owners and overseers--and received inferior food, clothing, and shelter to boot."--"Free At Last: A

    Documentary History of Slavery, Freedom, and the Civil War", 1992 edited by IraBerlin, & others.

    Letter written by Federal Chaplain and Surgeons, dated Dec 29th 1862, Helena,Arkansas:

    General, The undersigned Chaplains and Surgeons of the army of the Eastern Districtof Arkansas would respectfully call your attention to the Statements and Suggestions

    following. The Contrabands within our lines are experiencing hardships oppression &neglect the removal of which calls loudly for the intervention of authority. We dailysee & deplore the evil and leave it to your wisdom to devise a remedy. In a greatdegree the contrabands are left entirely to the mercy and rapacity of the unprincipled

    part of our army (excepting only the limited jurisdiction of Capt. Richmond) with noperson clothed with specific authority to look after & protect them. Among the list ofgrievances we mention these:

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    Some who have been paid by individuals for cotton or for labor have been waylaid bysoldiers, robbed, and in several instances fired upon, as well as robbed, and in no casethat we can now recall have the plunderers been brought to justice--The wives of some have been molested by soldiers to gratify their licentious lust, andtheir husbands murdered in endeavering to defend them, and yet the guilty parties,

    though known, were not arrested. Some who have wives and families are required towork on the Fortifications, or to unload Government Stores, and receive only theirmeals at the Public table, while their families, whatever provision is intended forthem, are, as a matter of fact, left in a helpless & starving condition.Many of the contrabands have been employed, & received in numerous instances,from officers & privates, only counterfeit money or nothing at all for theirservices. One man was employed as a teamster by the Government & he died in theservice (the government indebted to him nearly fifty dollars) leaving an orphan childeight years old, & there is no apparent provision made to draw the money, or to carefor the orphaned child.

    The negro hospital here has become notorious for filth, neglect, mortality & brutalwhipping, so that the contrabands have lost all hope of kind treatment there, & wouldalmost as soon go to their graves as to their hospital. These grievances reported to us

    by persons in whom we have confidence, & some of which we known to be true, arebut a few of the many wrongs of which they complain---For the sake of humanity, forthe sake of Christianity, for the good name of our army, for the honor of our country,cannot something be done to prevent this oppression & stop its demoralizinginfluences upon the Soldiers themselves ? Some have suggested that the matter belaid before the Department at Washington, in the hope that they will clothe an agentwith authority to register all the names of the contravands, who will have a benevolentregard for their welfare, though whom all details of fatigue & working parties shall bemade though whom rations may be drawn & money paid, & who shall be empoweredto organize schools, & to make all needfull regulatiojns for the comfort &improvement of the condition of the contrabands; whose accounts shall be open at alltimes for inspection, and who shall make stated reports to the Department--All whichis respectfully submitted. --Samuel Sawyer, Pearl P. Ingall, J.G. Forman

    Letter by Charles Stevenas to Lt. J. H. Metcalf(Acting Assistant Adjutant General)on Jan. 27, 1863 describes working conditions of contrabands working for the UnionArmy in at Kenner, La.):

    "The reason the negros gave for their filthy conditions was that they had no time to

    clean up in. On inquiry I found they have worked from sunrise till dark, Sundays

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    included, since last Sept. ..."

    "My cattle at home are better cared for than these unfortunate persons."--Col. Frank

    S. Nickerson, U.S. Army (describing condition of southern blacks in the care of

    Federal Army)

    Elsewhere at Fortress Monroe in the Virginia theatre, Lewis C. Lockwood, a U.S.

    Senator from Massachusetts testifies that this kind of abuse by the Union Army

    was committed on a widespread extent. In a letter dated Jan 29, 1862 he writes:

    "Contrabandism at Fortress Monroe is but another name for one of the worst forms ofpractical oppression--government slavery. Old Pharaoh slavery was government

    slavery and Uncle Sam's slavery is a counterpart...""Masters who are owners or who have been brought up with their slaves [have aninterest in them]; but what do government officers generally care how they treat these

    poor waifs, who have been cast upon their heartless protection...""But most of the slaves are compelled to work for government for a miserable

    pittance. Up to town months ago they had worked for nothing but quarters andrations. Since that time they have been partially supplied with clothing--costing on anaverage $4 per man. And in many instances they have received one or two dollars amonth cash for the past town months..." "Yet, under the direction of Quarter MasterTallmadge, Sergeant Smith has lately reduced the rations, given out, in Camp

    Hamilton, to the families of these laborers and to the disabled, from 500 to 60. Andsome of the men, not willing to see if their families suffer, have withdrawn fromgovernment service. And the Sergeant has been putting them in the Guard-house,whipping and forcing them back into the government gang. In some instances theseslaves have been knocked down senseless with shovels and clubs.""But I have just begun to trace the long catalogue of enormities, committed in thename of the Union, freedom and justice under the Stars and Stripes. Yours with greatrespect, Lewis C. Lockwood"

    Mrs. Louisa Jane Barker, the wife of the Chaplain of the 1st Mass. Heavy

    Artillery writes in 1864 regarding a Federal contraband camp near Ft. Albany,

    in northern Virginia:The camp, referred to as a "village" by Mrs. Barker was ordered to be cleared out byorder of Gen. Augur. "This order was executed so literally that even a dying childwas ordered out of his house---The grandmother who had taken care of it since itsmothers death begged leave to stay until the child died, but she was refused."

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    "The men who were absent at work, came home at night to find empty houses, andtheir families gone, they knew not whither!--Some of them came to Lieut. Shepard toenquire for their lost wives and children---In tears and indignation they protestedagainst a tyranny worse than their past experiences of slavery---One man said, 'I amgoing back to my old master---I never saw hard time till since I called myself a

    freeman.' "

    The following is a letter written by the colored men of Roanoke Island, N.C. on

    Mar 9th 1865 regarding the mistreatment they have received by the Federal

    Army. The letter was probably drafted by a black school teacher among them

    named Richard Boyle.

    Writing President Lincoln regarding the actions of Superintendent, Capt. HoraceJames:"..Soon as he [Superintendent] sees we are trying to support our selves without the aidof the government he comes and make a call for the men, that is not working for thegovernment to goe away and if we are not willing to goe he orders the guards to takeus by the point of the bayonet, and we have no power to help it we known it is wrightand are willing to doe anything that the President or our head commanders want us todoe but we are not willing to be pull and haul a bout so much by those head men aswe have been for the last two years and we may say get nothing for it, last fall a largenumber of we men was conscript and sent up to the front and all of them has neverreturn Some got kill some died and when they taken them they

    treated us mean and our owner ever did they taken us just like we had been dumbeast."In another letter of the same date:"We want to know from the Secretary of War has the Rev Chaplain James [Capt.James] which is our Superintendent of negros affairs has any wright to take our boychildren from us and from the school and send them to Newbern to work to pay forthey ration without they parent consint if he has we thinks it very hard indeed... ""...the next is concerning of our White soldiers they come to our Church and we treatthem with all the politeness that we can and some of them treats us as though we were

    beast and we cant help our selves Some of them brings Pop Crackers and Christmas

    devils and throws a mong the woman and if we say any thing to them they will talkabout mobin us. we report them to the Capt he will say you must find out which onesit was and that we cant do but we think very hard it they put the pistols to ourministers breast because he spoke to them about they behavour in the Church..."

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    What About Black Confederates in Missouri?

    Across the South there was a significant minority of slaves and black freemen thatsided with the Confederacy. Normally the free blacks, serving with the Confederacy

    received equal pay of the white Confederate private. For the slaves, the receipt of paywas not guaranteed. Their pay went according to their master's wishes, but often aportion did go for his personal up-keep. Others were promised freedom, mainly inreturn for faithful service by their masters. Missouri was a far journey from theConfederate capital of Richmond, so the offers of freedom for service late in the war

    by the Jefferson Davis administration never made it to the far West. But like the restof the South, some black Missourians sided with the Confederacy, not because theywere fighting to preserve slavery but because they believed it was their duty todefend their people (as they saw them, both black and white) from the Yankeeinvader. But in Missouri this was less true than in most of the South.

    In Missouri, since most slave owners were pro-Union, and the State was occupied bythe Union Army, there were very few black Confederates. Black Confederates rarelycame to service without their masters (or more affectionately, "white folks"). For free

    blacks in Missouri, the Confederacy had nothing to offer to rally them to their cause.The Missouri River was patrolled by Union gunboats, so essentially the upper half theState was cut off from serious Confederate influence. It is true a dozen or so rodewith Confederate guerilla forces of Quantrill and a few served elsewhere. But theirnumbers in Missouri do not compare with the visibility of black Confederate in othersouthern States. One uncommon example would be George McDonald, of Osceola,

    Missouri (see link below).

    Please see the author's article on "U.S. Colored Troops" and"Slavery in St. Louis" formore information on black Missourians during the Civil War.

    About the Author: Scott K. Williams is a St. Louis historian and writes articles for theAmerican Local History Network and The Missouri Civil War Museum at JeffersonBarracks. He is a kinsmen of Lt. Col. James B. McCreary, who submitted a petition to theConfederate Congress, on behalf of Confederate soldiers, requesting slaves be recruited as

    soldiers in the Confederate Army. He is also a descendant of Union soldiers, abolitionists, and amember of the U.S. Grant Camp, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War. He is also author of

    , "Slavery in St. Louis", "U.S. Colored Troops" (And the Plight of the RefugeeSlave), and"Benton Barracks".