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Jefferson Davis

 

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Jefferson Davis was born June 3, 1808, in that portion of Christian county, Kentucky, which was afterwards set off as Todd County. His grandfather was a colonist from Wales, living in Virginia and Maryland, and rendering important public service to those southern colonies. His father, Samuel Emory Davis, and his uncles, were all Revolutionary soldiers in 1776. Samuel Davis served during the Revolution partly with Georgia cavalry and was also in the siege of Savannah as an officer in the infantry. He is described as a young officer of gentle and engaging address, as well as remarkable daring in battle. Three brothers of Jefferson Davis, all older than himself, fought in the war of 1812, two of them serving directly with Andrew Jackson, and gaining from that great soldier special mention of their gallantry in the battle of New Orleans.
Jefferson Davis received his academic education in early boyhood at home, and was then sent to Transylvania University in Kentucky, where he remained until 1824, and the sixteenth year of his age. During that year he was appointed by President Monroe to West Point military academy as a cadet. A class-mate at West Point said of him, “he was distinguished in his corps for manly bearing and high-toned and lofty character. His figure was very soldier like and rather robust; his step springy, resembling the tread of an Indian ‘brave’ on the war-path.” He was graduated June, 1828, at twenty years of age, assigned at once to the First infantry and commissioned on the same day brevet second-lieutenant and second-lieutenant. His first active service in the United States army was at posts in the North-west from 1828 to 1833. The Black-hawk war occurring in 1831, his regiment was engaged in several of its battles, in one of which the Indian chieftain, Blackhawk, was captured and placed in the charge of Lieutenant Davis; and it is stated that the heart of the Indian captive was won by the kind treatment he received from the young officer who held him prisoner. In 1833, March 4th, Lieutenant Davis was transferred to a new regiment called the First Dragoons, with promotion to the rank of first-lieutenant, and was appointed adjutant. For about two years following this promotion he had active service in various encounters with the Pawnees, Comanches and other tribes. Jefferson married Sarah Knox Taylor (daughter of Zachary Taylor). Three months after the wedding Mrs. Davis died of disease. He later married Varina Howell (16 years his junior); their marriage endured the war and lasted until his death. Jefferson served during the Mexican War with former West Point classmates. He was appointed Colonel of the Mississippi Regiment. He refused a promotion to Brigadier Gen. from the president on the grounds that the president had no authority to promote a state militia officer. He served as Secretary of War under President Franklin Pierce. Davis served the people of Mississippi as their representative in the U.S. House of Representatives and 12 years as their U.S. senator. During his tenure in the senate he argued against secession as a method of solving regional differences. His deep concern for the rights of states not being overshadowed by the central government was the center of his political agenda. He reluctantly resigned from the U.S. Senate upon Mississippi’s vote of secession. Upon his return to MS he was appointed Maj. General of the MS militia. A couple of weeks later he was given the position as provisional president of the Confederacy. A short time later he was elected President of the new Confederacy. At the end of the war he was imprisoned at Fortress Monroe for two years. For more information on Jefferson Davis go to jeffersondavis.rice.edu/
Respectfully submitted by Rev. J.W. Binion, D.Min.


Black Troops in the Civil War


 

PRIDE OVER PREJUDICE
A Civil War Historical Narrative by Major George E. Reynolds

President Abraham Lincoln concluded his December 1, 1862 Message to Congress by stating in part: “In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free – honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best, hope on earth.” Under fire from rival Democrats and some members of his own Republican Party, the embattled Lincoln wrote those forthright words just one month before the formal signing of his Emancipation Proclamation. With the passage of that remarkable document, President Lincoln made perpetually free the nearly four million slaves living in bondage within the territories of the rebellious Confederate States of America.

Although historically speaking it was the Confiscation Act of July 1862 that first specifically authorized black enlistment, Lincoln refused to allow the policy until after his signing of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. Some of Lincoln’s more abolitionist minded generals, however, attempted to raise their own black units prior to the official go-ahead. General John Fremont, commander of Union forces in Missouri, issued a directive freeing all slaves in his area of operations without first getting the President’s approval and in nearby Kansas, Brigadier General Jim Lane formed black units without the War Department’s concurrence. Northern officers like Generals David Hunter and Rufus Saxton in South Carolina tried to form black regiments from the multitudes of contrabands that fled across Union lines. While in Louisiana, General Benjamin Butler mustered into service the free men of color of the Louisiana Native Guards – thereafter known as the Corps d’ Afrique. Those efforts, though, were limited in scope and the full and advantageous impact of African American recruitment was not fully realized until after the Emancipation Proclamation.

The Emancipation Proclamation dramatically changed forever, the direction of the American Civil War. With one mighty stroke of his pen, Lincoln transformed the war from one waged to restore the Union, to one fought to abolish the evil of Southern slavery. Lincoln’s important declaration also paved the way for the official authorization and the raising of African American regiments to augment the already war-weary white Union forces. This audacious move proved to be a political powder keg for Lincoln.

To many Northerners, the President’s action was tantamount to treason; large numbers of outspoken citizens and politicians were alarmed and appalled at the prospects of black recruits. Arguing against the black enlistment bill, one Democratic legislator declared: “This is a government of white men, made by white men for white men, to be administered, protected, defended, and maintained by white men.” Reacting sharply to the outrageous and offensive claims against his policy, an acerbic and unmoved Lincoln argued that peace would eventually come to the Union, and when it did: “Then, there will be some black men who can remember that, with silent tongue, and clenched teeth, and steady eye, and well-poised bayonet, they have helped mankind to this great consummation; while, I fear, there will be some white ones, unable to forget that, with malignant heart, and deceitful speech, they have strove to hinder it.”

Unfortunately, the strong debate over black enlistment was not limited to Northern civilian sectors and political arenas. Numerous white soldiers, enlisted men and officers alike, strongly objected to the idea of African American military service, contending that blacks had no place fighting in a “white man’s war.” One private in a Rhode Island infantry regiment no doubt spoke for many when he wrote: “The plan of having Negro soldiers is very well in some cases; but when it comes to putting the whites and blacks on the same footing, I come to the conclusion it is about time to quit soldiering. I want to see the war come to a close, this rebellion crushed, and the Stars and Stripes waving over a united country once more, and I am willing to fight for it, but I am not willing to fight shoulder to shoulder with a black.”

Fortunately for the Union, prejudicial attitudes amongst Northerners was not universal. Abolitionists rejoiced in Lincoln’s decision while scores of others, reluctantly, if not pragmatically, accepted the idea of black enlistment. One Ohio lieutenant surely echoed the thoughts of others when he wrote: “.. there is not a Negro in the army that is not a better man than a rebel ..” And in another example of in-ranks support for the President’s plan, Union Captain Charles Hill wrote his wife saying: “A great many white people have the idea that the entire Negro race are vastly their inferiors. I have a more elevated opinion of their abilities than ever before. I know that many of them are vastly the superiors of those who would condemn them to a life of brutal degradation.”

President Lincoln also found a strong ally – and at times harsh critic – in the renowned African American orator and anti-slavery advocate Frederick Douglass. Douglass was an eloquently vocal supporter of black enlistment and was one of the earliest leaders to understand that a black call to arms was the quickest and surest means available to gain African American respect and equality. Realizing the important need for black men to participate in the achievement of their own freedom, Douglass proclaimed: “The colored man only waits for honorable admission into the service of the country. They know that who would be free must strike the first blow.” The South, for its part, erupted in sweeping, and for the most part frenzied, outrage over the Lincoln edict. Confederate President Jefferson Davis, along with just about every other rebel political and social leader, vehemently condemned the idea of black enlistment and promoted it as “last ditch measure” of a defeated Northern government. The Confederate Congress responded quickly, and on May 1, 1863 passed a formal declaration that black men bearing arms would be viewed as insurrectionary slaves subject to the laws of the states where they were captured. At the very least, captured African American soldiers faced a return to the shackles of bondage.

In numerous documented instances, however, surrendering black soldiers along with their white officers were killed outright by their Confederate captors. Rebel soldiers had little tolerance for a policy that exposed turning former slaves into soldiers. It was into this bubbling cauldron of social and political turmoil that President Abraham Lincoln plunged, first himself, and then the entire nation.

Understanding full well the profound positive impact African American soldier manpower would have on the Union war effort and the devastating psychological jolt it would produce within Confederate ranks, Lincoln ordered the formation of black regiments. Writing to then Tennessee Governor Andrew Johnson in March, 1863, a poised Lincoln professed: “The colored population is the great available, yet unavailed of, force for restoring the Union. The bare sight of fifty thousand armed, and drilled black soldiers on the banks of the Mississippi, would end the rebellion at once.” The – great available colored population – that Lincoln wrote of responded overwhelmingly, and with little haste, to his call to the Nation’s defense. Inspired by vigorous support from prominent black leaders and motivated by African American newspapers emblazoned with phrases like: “We must fight! fight! fight!”; “It is now or never – now if ever.”; “What better field to claim our rights than the field of battle?”; “To strike for the Union, is to strike for the bondsmen,.” blacks descended upon recruiters in large numbers.

While many of the would be enlistees lining up outside of the bustling recruitment stations were recently liberated slaves or plantation runaways, a much larger number were black men who were born free. Men like George Stephens of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania who implored: “We do not deserve the name of freemen, if we disregard the teachings of the hour and fail to place in the balance against oppression, treason, and tyranny, our interests, our arms, and our lives.” Stephens, who served in the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, went on to add: “we have more to gain, if victorious, or more to lose, if defeated, than any other class of men, (the) sooner we awaken to their inexorable demands upon us, the better for the race, the better for the country, the better for our families, and the better for ourselves.”

Another member of the famed 54th, Corporal James Henry Gooding, passionately encouraged black volunteerism by writing: “As one of the race, I beseech you, slavery must die! It depends on the black men of the North, whether it will die or not – those who are in bonds must have some one to open the door; when slaves see the white soldier approach, he dares not trust him and why? Because he has heard that some have treated him worse than their owners in the rebellion. But if the slave sees the black soldier, he knows that he has got a friend; and through friendship, he that was once a slave can be made a soldier, to fight for his own liberty. Now is the time to act!”

White leaders, also heralding the cause of black recruitment, zealously solicited and encouraged black men to enlist. None was more enthusiastic in effort than Massachusetts Republican Governor John A. Andrew. Andrew had long and ardently advocated the use of blacks in the military – fully believing that they could, and would fight if given the opportunity. It was no surprise then, when he, along with the earnest support of Frederick Douglass – raised the nation’s first post-Emancipation Proclamation black unit, the 54th Massachusetts Regiment. When the proud and imposing 54th paraded along Boston Common in grand review on May 28,1863, they knew that a pugnacious rebel enemy awaited them in South Carolina. The magnificent men of the noble regiment refused to yield to the uncertainty of their impending fate, however, and instead marched triumphantly amongst the cheering and flag waving well-wishers – both black and white – who lined the crowded streets. The impressive 54th departed the Bay State as the model for all of the black regiments that followed.

All total, some 185,000 African American men followed in the exalted footsteps of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, hell-bent on confirming their manhood and extinguishing the flames of Southern oppression. A staggering 74% of all free blacks of military age (18-45) fought for their country. They formed into 166 units – 60 of which engaged in direct combat – and organized as 145 infantry regiments, 13 artillery units, seven cavalry groups, and one engineer battalion. Most of the units mustered into service with state designated titles – 55th Massachusetts; 1st Kansas; 1st Mississippi – until the War Department changed the names to the United States Colored Troops (USCT) in 1864. Even then, four units – 5th Massachusetts Cavalry; 54th and 55th Massachusetts Infantry; 29th Connecticut Infantry – retained their state designations throughout the entire war.

All of the black units – except for the Corps d’ Afrique – entered military service led by white officers. This was done to assuage the concerns and help stem the objections of many Northerners who opposed black enlistment. Unfortunately for the soldiers, though, many officer selections were not based on qualifications. Thus black regiments became convenient dumping grounds for careless, self-promoting, or just plain inferior officers. These substandard officers were many times inept and usually racist and the unlucky black soldiers almost always paid the price. On more than one occasion, black soldiers were carelessly thrown into a deadly maelstrom of fire by commanders who didn’t know any better or who just didn’t care. Luckily, however, the majority of USCT units were led by well qualified officers who fit Governor Andrew’s designs for: “young men of military experience, of firm anti-slavery principles, ambitious, superior to vulgar contempt for color, and having faith in the capacity of colored men for military service.” The white leadership issue notwithstanding, black also faced many others problems in their passage from civilian to soldier. Often they received second-rate equipment, shoddy clothing, inadequate supplies, and inferior living environments – not to mention a pervasive cloud of prejudice that existed throughout the military ranks.

These indignities were minor, however, when compared to the explosive issue of equal pay. In 1863, when blacks began to enlist, the pay for white recruits was $13 per day plus food and clothing. All concerned, including the War Department, assumed that the new black soldiers would be entitled to equal payment as well. Instead, Solicitor William Whiting, using requirements specified in the Militia Act of 1862 ruled that soldiers of the USCT would be paid at the black government laborer rate of $10 per day; deducting another $3 for a clothing allowance. Needless to say, blacks were universally inflamed by the blatant display of discrimination. Many soldiers refused to accept their pay rather than suffer the indignation. One disgruntled soldier argued his point effectively when he asked: “Do we not fill the same ranks? Do we not cover the same ground? Do we not take up the same length of ground in the graveyard as others do? The ball does not miss the black man and strike the white, they strike one as much as the other, we have done a soldier’s duty, why can’t we have a soldier’s pay?”

Eventually in 1864, Washington politicians bowed to pressure from blacks and whites alike and reinstated equal pay measures; to some, however, the unjust policy forever stigmatized the legitimacy of the Federal government’s intentions.

Despite these tremendous adversities and many other stifling acts of bias, black soldiers took to the field of battle with a level of intensity and ferocity no less than that of their white comrades at arms. Against the parapets of Battery Wagner, along the approaches to Port Hudson, within the trenches of Petersburg, and across the many other battlefields were they spilled their precious blood, black soldiers completely destroyed the myths of slavery. Their gallant deeds garnered twenty-nine Medals of Honor and all but erased the skepticism of an entire nation. By their heroic conduct, they vindicated their manhood, and earned forever, the rightful claim to citizenry in the United States of America.

In the words of one white officer following the overwhelming Union victory at Nashville, Tennessee: “I have often heard men say that they would not fight beside a Negro soldier but on the 16th the whites and blacks charged together and they fell just as well as we did. When you hear any one say that Negro soldiers won’t fight just tell them that, I have seen a great many fighting for our country.”

Just as pointed, but more solemnly stated, was 28th USCT chaplain Garland H. White, who proudly proclaimed: “The historian pen cannot fail to locate us somewhere among the good and the great, who have fought and bled upon the altar of their country.”

BLACKS IN CONFEDERATE SERVICE

By Steve Fry
The Topeka Capital-Journal
September 27, 2001

Copyright 2001 Topeka Capital-Journal

“Before William Clarke Quantrill and hundreds of his Missouri guerrillas raided Lawrence in 1863, John Noland rode ahead to scout out the town.

Noland, Quantrill’s primary scout, is just one of many blacks who served in Confederate units during the Civil War“, said historian Ed Kennedy.

Noland joined Quantrill because his family in Missouri had been abused by Jayhawkers, Kansas guerrillas who raided Missouri and later were mustered into the Union forces, Kennedy said. Photographs of Quantrill’s raiders as they attended reunions after the Civil War show Noland sitting prominently with white members of the group.

In the 1999 movie “Ride With the Devil,” Noland is the basis for the character Daniel Holt, the freed black who along with his former owner rides with Quantrill’s bushwhackers, Kennedy said.

It is difficult to determine how many blacks fought in the Confederate forces, in part because many Confederate records were destroyed. Kennedy estimates seven percent to eight percent of the Confederate forces might have been black.

Kennedy cites a number of sources, including diaries, letters, private publications, the “Official Records of the War of the Rebellion” and writings of black scholars.

For instance:

.. And photographs showed black veterans, who “wore their veterans badges as proudly as any whites.”
.. Pensions were paid to black Confederate soldiers.
.. An 1862 letter from Frederick Douglass to President Abraham Lincoln in which Douglass writes that many blacks serve in the Confederate Army as “real soldiers having muskets on their shoulders and bullets in their pockets, ready to shoot down and do all that soldiers may do to destroy the Federal government.”
.. A Union sanitary commission officer saw 3,000 black armed combatants in the Confederate Army moving through Fredricksburg, Va., in 1862.
Blacks served in the Confederate Army “for the same reason they defended the United States colonies in the Revolutionary War,” Kennedy said. “They were patriots,” who thought their homes were being invaded by the Union. They felt like this was their home, that this was their country. They weren’t fighting for slavery.”

The black Confederates were a combination of free blacks and slaves who were house servants accompanying white masters, Kennedy said. Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest freed 44 of his slaves after they served Forrest’s cavalry forces, Kennedy said. Unlike blacks in the Union Army who served in all-black regiments, blacks in the Confederate Army fought in mixed units, he said.

The topic of black Confederate soldiers is rarely talked about because “it’s not politically correct,” Kennedy said. Some people who hear about black soldiers fighting in the Confederate Army “just go ballistic,” Kennedy said. He likens their reaction to people who didn’t know blacks served in the Union Army before release of the 1989 movie “Glory,” the film about the 54th Massachusetts, an all-black unit Union regiment. (The first black regiment to fight in the Civil War was the 1st Kansas Colored Infantry.)

Civil War Historian Ed Kennedy is a retired lieutenant colonel in the Army and a former instructor of history at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth. He teaches Army Reserve Officer Training Corps classes at Leavenworth High School and is co-owner of Historical Leadership Seminars, a private company that takes corporate executives to battlefields to teach leadership and decision-making skills.

Black Confederates Why haven’t we heard more about them?
by Scott K. Williams

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 historian, Roland Young, says he is not surprised that blacks fought. He explains that “some, if not most, Black southerners would support their country” and that by doing so they were “demonstrating it’s possible to hate the system of slavery and love one’s country.” This is the very same reaction that most African Americans showed during 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 Confederate ranks. Over 13,000 of these, “saw the elephant” also known as meeting the enemy in combat. These Black Confederates included both slave and free. The Confederate Congress did not approve blacks to be officially enlisted as soldiers (except as musicians), until late in the war. But in the ranks it was a different story. Many Confederate officers did not obey the mandates of politicians, they frequently enlisted blacks with the simple criteria, “Will you fight?” Historian Ervin Jordan, explains that “biracial units” were frequently organized “by local Confederate and State militia Commanders in response to immediate threats in the form of Union raids”. Dr. Leonard Haynes, an African-American professor at Southern University, stated, “When you eliminate the black Confederate soldier, you’ve eliminated the history of the South.”

As the war came to an end, the Confederacy took progressive measures to build back up its army. The creation of the Confederate States Colored Troops, copied after the segregated northern colored troops, came too late to be successful. Had the Confederacy been successful, it would have created the world’s largest armies (at the time) consisting of black soldiers,even larger than that of the North. This would have given the future of the Confederacy a vastly different appearance than what modern day racist or anti-Confederate liberals conjecture. Not only did Jefferson Davis envision black Confederate veterans receiving bounty lands for their service, there would have been no future for slavery after the goal of 300,000 armed black CSA veterans came home after the war.

1. The “Richmond Howitzers” were partially manned by black militiamen. They saw 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 were killed in the action”, recorded John Parker, a former slave.

2. At least one Black Confederate was a non-commissioned officer. James Washington, Co. D 35th Texas Cavalry, Confederate States Army, became it’s 3rd Sergeant. Higher ranking black commissioned officers served in militia units, but this was on the State militia level (Louisiana)and not in the regular C.S. Army.

3. Free black musicians, cooks, soldiers and teamsters earned the same pay as white confederate privates. This was not the case in the Union army where blacks did not receive equal pay. At the Confederate Buffalo Forge in Rockbridge County, Virginia, skilled black workers “earned on average three times the wages of white Confederate soldiers and more than most Confederate army officers ($350- $600 a year).

4. Dr. Lewis Steiner, Chief Inspector of the United States Sanitary Commission while 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 those worn 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 and laborers, but real soldiers, having musket on their shoulders, and bullets in their pockets, ready to shoot down any loyal troops and do all that soldiers may do to destroy the Federal government and build up that of the rebels.”

6. Black and white militiamen returned heavy fire on Union troops at the Battle of Griswoldsville (near Macon, GA). Approximately 600 boys and elderly men were 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 Confederacy by Britain and France. France showed interest but Britain refused.

8. The Jackson Battalion included two companies of black soldiers. They saw combat at Petersburg under Col. Shipp. “My men acted with utmost promptness and goodwill…Allow me to state sir that they behaved in an extraordinary acceptable manner.”

9. Recently the National Park Service, with a recent discovery, recognized that blacks were asked to help defend the city of Petersburg, Virginia and were offered 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 Confederate troops in battle, could only have been achieved with the support these loyal black Southerners.

10. Confederate General John B. Gordon (Army of Northern Virginia) reported that all of his troops were in favor of Colored troops and that it’s adoption would have “greatly encouraged the army”. Gen. Lee was anxious to receive regiments of black soldiers. The Richmond Sentinel reported on 24 Mar 1864, “None will deny that our servants are more worthy of respect than the motley hordes which come against us.” “Bad faith [to black Confederates] must be avoided 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. Authority for 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 say to every Negro who wants to go into the ranks, go and fight, and you are free Fight for your masters and you shall have your freedom.” Confederate Officers 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 States Colored Troops. 83% of Richmond’s male slave population volunteered for duty. A special ball was held in Richmond to raise money for uniforms for these men. Before Richmond fell, black Confederates in gray uniforms drilled in the streets. Due to the war ending, it is believed only companies or squads of these troops ever saw any action. Many more black soldiers fought for the North, but that difference was simply a difference because the North instituted this progressive policy more sooner than the more conservative South. Black soldiers from both sides received discrimination from whites who opposed the concept .

13. Union General U.S. Grant in Feb 1865, ordered the capture of “all the Negro men before the enemy can put them in their ranks.” Frederick Douglass warned Lincoln that unless slaves were guaranteed freedom (those in Union controlled areas were still slaves) and land bounties, “they would take up arms for the rebels”.

14. On April 4, 1865 (Amelia County, VA), a Confederate supply train was exclusively manned and guarded by black Infantry. When attacked by Federal Cavalry, they stood their ground and fought off the charge, but on the second charge they were overwhelmed. These soldiers are believed to be from “Major Turner’s” Confederate command.

15. A Black Confederate, George _____, when captured by Federals was bribed to desert to the other side. He defiantly spoke, “Sir, you want me to desert, and I ain’t no deserter. Down South, deserters disgrace their families and I am never going to do that.”

16. Former slave, Horace King, accumulated great wealth as a contractor to the Confederate Navy. He was also an expert engineer and became known as the “Bridge builder of the Confederacy.” One of his bridges was burned in a Yankee raid. His home was pillaged by Union troops, as his wife pleaded for mercy.

17. As of Feb. 1865 1,150 black seamen served in the Confederate Navy. One of these was among the last Confederates to surrender, aboard the CSS Shenandoah, six months after the war ended. This surrender took place in England.

18. Nearly 180,000 Black Southerners, from Virginia alone, provided logistical support for the Confederate military. Many were highly skilled workers. These included a wide range of jobs: nurses, military engineers, teamsters, ordnance department workers, brakemen, firemen, harness makers, blacksmiths, wagonmakers, boatmen, mechanics, wheelwrights, etc. In the 1920’S Confederate 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 1900’s, many members of the United Confederate Veterans (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 1913 Confederate Veteran magazine published by the UCV, it was printed that this plan “If not Democratic, it is [the] Confederate” thing to do. There was much gratitude toward former slaves, which “thousands were loyal, to the last degree”, now living with total poverty of the big cities. Unfortunately, their proposal fell on deaf ears on Capitol Hill.

20. During the 50th 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 enough accommodations for the black Union veterans, but were completely surprised when unexpected black Confederates arrived. The white Confederates immediately welcomed their old comrades, gave them one of their tents, and “saw 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 white Confederate soldiers. Also shown is one “white soldier giving his child to a black woman for protection”.- source: Edward Smith, African American professor 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 Pilot” newspaper, writes: “I’ve had to re-examine my feelings toward the [Confederate] flag started when I read a newspaper article about an elderly black man whose ancestor worked with the Confederate forces. The man spoke with pride about his family member’s contribution to the cause, was photographed with the [Confederate] flag draped over his lap that’s why I now have no definite stand on just what the flag symbolizes, because it no longer is their history, or my history, but our history.”

Resources:

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 researched and 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).

For general historical information on Black Confederates, contact Dr. Edward Smith, American University, 4400 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 20016; Dean of American Studies. Dr. Smith is a black professor dedicated to clarifying the historical role of African Americans.

Copyright 1998, by Scott Williams, All Rights Reserved. Permission granted to reproduce this fact sheet for educational purposes only. Must include this statement on all copies.

Black Confederate Pensioners After the Civil War