Newspaper Articles Regarding Black Confederates

The Post & Courier, Charleston, South Carolina
Monuments honor the blacks who wore gray
Lisa Hofbauer, Staff Writer – Published February 2, 1997
(Copyright 1997 – Reprinted with permission)

Agnes Corbett always knew that her hometown of Camden (South Carolina) had once had its share of Confederate soldiers. What she didn’t know was that some of them were black.

Corbett, the director of the Camden Archives, learned about the town’s African American veterans when her organization decided to survey the names of everyone who fought in the Civil War. When she learned of a tombstone at an African American church that had a Confederate States of America seal on it, she was amazed.

"That is a part of our history that has not been brought to the surface. Nobody has researched it." Corbett said, "We didn’t even know about it until we did the survey."

Memorials to African-Americans who served in the Confederacy are rare, but not unheard of. Though the debate rages on about the Confederate battle flag atop the statehouse in Columbia and the Confederate monument in Walterboro, many people haven’t learned about the role that southern African-Americans played in the Civil War.

At least two black Confederate monuments exist in South Carolina, and several others can be found in other states.

One monument in Darlington is dedicated to Henry Dad Brown, a drummer for the Confederate troops who, according to Darlington resident and historian Horace Rudisel, was not allowed to carry a firearm because of his race. Brown was able to draw a Confederate pension after the war, however, and was said to be highly respected in town because he had served. The monument was erected shortly after Brown’s death in 1907.

Rudisel said that the monument used to be kept up by local black teachers until the county offered to maintain it.

Darlington County also had 10 to 20 other black men who were body servants, or valets, to soldiers and who also drew CSA pensions. The Darlington Historical Society is trying to determine the burial sites of those men so they can erect a monument honoring them.

Another African-American Confederate monument was erected in 1895 in Fort Mill (South Carolina). That monument is dedicated to the Confederate slaves who helped protect and defend the women and children left alone during the war.

The granite obelisk has carvings of African-Americans on its sides along with the names of roughly 15 slaves. Two other monuments, one dedicated to the women and children and a third for the Catawba Indians who fought for the Confederacy, stand on the same site.

William J. Bradford, the unofficial but widely respected town historian and former editor of the Fort Mill Times, said that even locally it has been underappreciated. Since the monument belongs to the people of Fort Mill and not the county, funds aren’t available to keep it in top condition.

"We have always felt that it should receive more attention than it has," Bradford said. "It hasn’t been vandalized, but it hasn’t been kept up. None of them have been preserved as they should have been."

A monument that honors a black Confederate soldier killed in battle also exists in Canton, Mississippi.

Efforts to bring to light the African-American’s role in the Civil War continue – and from some unlikely sources. Several chapters of the Sons of Confederate Veterans are trying to identify blacks who fought in the war. Terrell’s Texas Cavalry, 34th Regiment, a Confederate reenactment group with members in several states, is raising funds for a monument to Confederate soldiers of color. They plan to erect the monument in Richmond, Virginia, where the White House of the Confederacy still stands.

According to John Danylchuk, captain of the 34th Texas Cavalry unit in Killeen, Texas, some reenactors have trouble believing that there were black and Hispanic soldiers in the Confederate Army.

Danylchuk recalled one incident in which his unit was asked to reenact a battle for a television miniseries. After he and two other men – one of whom was black – went to meet with the casting director, Danylchuk got a strange phone call.

"(The director) said, ‘Yeah, we’d like to have all you guys – but not the black guy,’" Danylchuk recalled.

When asked if he knew why that happened, he said, "I know why. They don’t want to see black people wearing gray."

Many historians agree that African-Americans did play a role in the Confederate Army. According to the Appomattox Courthouse National Historic Site, 36 black Confederates were among those who surrendered to the Union army at Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia on April 9, 1865. Most were teamsters, guards, cooks or musicians.

Historians estimate the total number of black men who sided with the Confederates either as laborers or soldiers range anywhere from 60,000 to 90,000.

James Eaton, a professor at Florida A&M University who studied black Confederates, explained why those men might have joined the cause. He said that one reason many of them did so because they were afraid their live would be more difficult if they didn’t.

"Some of them were promised their freedom if they fought. Others went out of loyalty for their masters, and stayed with them in times of trouble." Eaton said.

"Black men did fight on both sides," he continued. "There’s been a whole lot of credible work done about the side of the Union, but they have not given any scholarly research to the Confederate side."

The Mississippi Press
Black Confederates gaining recognition

By Regina Hines, West Jackson County Bureau Chief
(Reprinted with permission)
(May be reprinted with source and byline)

OCEAN SPRINGS — A monument was dedicated last year in Washington, D.C., to the memory of the African-Americans who fought in Union service during the Civil War.

Since then, a local freelance writer has become involved in an effort to erect a similar monument to the thousands of blacks who served the Confederacy.

"It’s hidden history," Michael Kelley of Pascagoula said. His research shows there were more than 65,000 blacks, 15,000 Hispanics and 3,000 Native Americans among the Confederate troops. But little recognition is given to these facts, he said.

"I’ve talked to a lot of black Mississippians," he said. "Most know of black Confederate service and I have not talked to one who is not proud of it and they are angry that it is not recognized."

Kelley, who is white, has heard stories about his ancestors’ lives in Civil War Virginia since childhood.’ "I was raised in the Old Southern tradition. A person’s color meant nothing, you took everyone as an individual," he said.

A syndicated newspaper column he read last year strengthened the Civil War stories he had heard. The author, Walter E. Williams, an economics professor at George Mason University, wrote about "… numerous accounts of blacks serving as fighting men or servants in every battle from Gettysburg to Vicksburg."

"They were not all necessarily in combat. They were hospital stewards, runners and longshoremen also," Kelley said.

"We’re not just talking about servants and slaves; we’re talking about friends and, in some cases, relatives. They were not segregated like Northern troops."

He has uncovered stories of officers who had brought their servants with them when they enlisted. When one major was wounded, his young servant, a freeman, brought the officer home before returning to the battle.

In another case, a young Confederate captain was killed at Gettysburg. His servant sold the officer’s equipment to buy a buggy and carried the body for 600 miles so that the youth’s parents could bury him. "Then he returned to combat," Kelley said of the servant. "He could have just walked away."

"It was honorable service. They were fighting for what they believed in. They were fighting for their homes and people," Kelley said.

For some black veterans, it was difficult to prove Confederate service because many records that mention them were destroyed. But thousands received Confederate pensions upon the statements of their commanding officers.

"It is very honorable of Mr. Kelley to do this and we would assist him and encourage him," Aniece Liddell, president of the Jackson County NAACP, said. "History books do not tell the whole story and we’re just hearing about this."

She said the reason that February is set aside as Black History Month is to bring out these forgotten stories. "Books are being rewritten now and these stories are now being told."

While searching the Internet, Kelley learned about a racially-mixed Civil War re-enactors group based in Austin, Texas, – Terrell’s Texas Cavalry 34th Regiment, CSA. Kelley has since become the unit’s second lieutenant and commander of the dismounted unit.

One of the goals of the unit is to educate others about the multi-racial makeup of the Confederate Armed Forces through authentic re-enactment.

Terrell’s Texas Cavalry was ordered into service in June 1863 under the command of Lt. Col. Alexander Watkins Terrell. "Unit rosters showed the 34th to be of multi-racial makeup including white, black, brown and red men," he said.

They plan in the future to launch a design competition for a monument dedicated to the black Confederates and push for the sculpture to be located on Richmond’s Monument Avenue.

"I think it’s a fine idea," Sons of Confederate Veterans officer Keith Hardison said. "It’s a role many people do not know anything about and others choose to ignore it."

Hardison is curator of the Beauvoir Shrine and serves as adjutant in chief of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV). Hardison said the concept of a national monument was discussed recently by Ed Smith, a professor at American University in Washington, D.C., who spoke to SCV members at the Lee-Jackson Banquet.

Various state and local monuments have been erected on this theme and one of the panels of the Confederate Monument at Arlington National Cemetery features a black soldier, he said. The Harvey Scout Monument in Canton, Miss., is also dedicated to the memory of an African-American Confederate soldier.

Hardison said records of the last reunion of the United Confederate Veterans held in 1930 at the White House Hotel in Biloxi show that several African-American veterans attended.

The ancestry of members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans represents a cross section of America in most states, he said. Those of Native American, Hispanic and European descent are members along with Anglo-Americans, Hardison said.

Kelley said this ethnic diversity is part of Southern history and will be a facet which will be emphasized in the proposed monument.

"The South has a real cultural legacy and the monument must relate to the people of the South," he said.

Whatever their ethnic heritage, he said, "The South is a collection of people who share a love for a land."

Confederate re-enactors to meet with local NAACP

By Natalie Chambers, Mississippi Press Staff – Jan. 9, 1998

MOSS POINT – Capt. Michael Kelley of Pascagoula wants black soldiers who served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War to receive the recognition due them.

On Sunday, Kelley and other members of Terrell’s Texas Cavalry, a Confederate re-enactment group, will take their quest before the Jackson County NAACP during the civil rights organization’s Jubilee celebration.

Kelley, of the 34th Regiment, Confederate States Army, will be accompanied by Maj. John Danylchuk and Sgt. Edward Hall, Jr.

Aneice Liddell, president of the local NAACP, said, "Basically, I think it’s time for us to hear the other side. There is no denying the fact that there were black Confederate soldiers that fought for the Confederacy as well as the Union.

"The NAACP sees it as a controversial issue, but I think we should be open-minded enough to hear what Mr. Kelley and his comrades want to present to us.

"We do need to know a little more about why the Civil War was fought," she said. "All Mr. Kelley wants to do is present his point of view and the NAACP will allow him to do that."

The program is scheduled for 3 p.m. at Moss Point Riverfront Community Center, 4400 Denny Ave. The program is free and open to the public.

Kelley said African-Americans, native Indians and Hispanics fought on the side of the Confederates in the Civil War.

Historians estimate the total number of black men who sided with the Confederates as either as laborers or soldiers range anywhere from 60,000-90,000.

Florida A&M University professor James Eaton, who has studied blacks in the rebel army, told "The Post & Courier" in Charleston, S.C., that one reason many blacks joined the Confederates was because they were afraid their lives would be more difficult if they didn’t.

"Some of them were promised their freedom if they fought. Others went out of loyalty for their masters, and stayed with them in times of trouble," Eaton said.

"Black men did fight on both sides . There’s been a whole lot of credible work done about the side of the Union, but they have not given any scholarly research to the Confederate side."

Liddell said, "The war was not fought over slaves but economics. They were trying to destroy the wealth of the South." (Note – emphasis ours)

Danylchuk, captain of the Killeen, Texas, unit, said that some re-enactors have trouble believing there were blacks and Hispanic soldiers in the Confederate Army.

Danylchuk said during one encounter, his unit was asked to re-enact a battle for a television miniseries. He said after he and two other men, one of whom was black, went to meet the casting director, Danylchuk was later told, "Yeah, we’d like to have all you guys – but not the black guy."

Danylchuk said, "They don’t want to see black people wearing gray (color of Confederate uniform)."

Danylchuk started the 34th Texas regiment in 1995.

The Mississippi Press
NAACP Jubilee Celebration speaks of
Black Civil War soldiers

By Natalie Chambers, January 12, 1998
(Reprinted with permission)
(May be reprinted with source and byline)

MOSS POINT – They were still fighting the Civil War here Sunday.

The war was actually a debate over the reason for the war and the use of black soldiers in the Confederate Army.

The debate involved members of a Civil War re-entactment group and members of the Jackson County NAACP participating in the fourth annual Jubilee celebration.

"I’m here today not to present another side of any issue at all. There is no other side, there is only history," said Capt. Michael Kelley, a member of the re-enactment group, Terrell’s Texas Cavalry.

Kelley said research indicates about 65,000 black men served in Confederate uniforms during the Civil War. He says there were an estimated 15,000 Hispanics and 3,500 Native Americans on the South’s side.

Kelley said blacks fighting with the Confederate Army most likely did so not to address issues but because there was an army invading.

Moss Point historian James Planer cautioned the group to be careful about information disseminated.

He urged the group to research well "under what circumstances" blacks served in the Confederate Army.

Planer said, "We really need to look at history. No matter how you say it, politics were involved."

Planer said the South did not get a lot of black troops until toward the end of the war. He said when the South ran out of manpower, it turned to blacks and enticed them to become Confederate soldiers by promising freedom.

"A lot of blacks, I’m thinking, were tricked into serving the South," Planer said.

Sgt. Edward Hall, a black participant of the Texas Cavalry said he has learned that "black men served in every war."

NAACP President Aneice Liddell reignited the debate when she said, "If (the Union) loved us so much, why are we not better off today? It’s hard for me to believe the Union fought to free black slaves."

Planer replied, "The North did not fight to free blacks. They fought to keep the Union from splitting."

Kelley said plans are to build a monument to honor the Confederates of Color. Kelley said the group wants to put the monument on the grounds of Beauvoir, home of Confedereate States President Jefferson Davis.

A limited number of prints of a sketch of black Confederate soldiers will be sold as a fund-raiser and made available by website.

Associated Press
Black soldiers fought for Confederacy
Originally appeared in
The Jackson Clarion-Ledger
By Jimmie Gates, May 3, 1998

Not all who fought in gray were white.

African Americans who fought for the Confederacy are often an overlooked part of Civil War history, some historians and Civil War buffs say.

Neil Wilfong of Brandon was born in Pennsylvania, but he has a mission to make sure the true Civil War history is told.

"It was a black and white thing," Wilfong said of Confederate forces.

Wilfong said history has overlooked African Americans who served as Confederate soldiers.

Professor Edward C. Smith, director of American Studies at American University in Washington, agrees.

"The truth of history must come out, " Smith said.

Aniece Liddell, president of the Jackson County Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, also agrees.

The Jackson County NAACP recently heard a presentation from Michael Kelley of Pascagoula, who helped found the 34th Texas Regiment Civil War re-enactment unit, one of the first units of color.

Kelley, who is white, has done much research on the role of people of color in the Confederate army. He said it’s time to reflect the Southern heritage that includes black people and other races.

Smith said the information that black soldiers fought for the Confederacy as well as for the Union has always been there. It’s just being talked about more now, he said.

"Until the movie ‘Glory’ came out, no one knew that many blacks fought in the Union Army, Smith said. Now the blacks who fought on the Southern side are being discovered.

"All the evidence has been there," he said.

Black soldiers wearing Confederate gray may seem "crazy," Smith said, "Why would you fight to keep yourself in slavery?"

But Smith said freedom wasn’t an issue for many black Confederate soldiers who were either free or had been promised their freedom.

The U.S. Census in 1860 reported 500,000 free black people living in the South, he said.

"It was a case of fighting for your homeland," Smith said.

Recently, movements have begun to recognize black soldiers who fought for the Confederacy, Smith said.

"We’re seeing better representation," said Kelley, who is responsible for the 42-page 34th Texas Regiment Web site.

The 55-member 34th Texas Regiment includes 10 black members and four Hispanic members.

Mississippi Sun Herald

Purveyors of hate circulate uncivil stories about war

Appeared June 13, 1998
By Donald V Adderton

It always amuses me when I confront nonsensical accounts – revisionist hysteria lacking the faintest hint of fact – of the War Between the States.

Revisionists recently have been running around the Coast ranting and raving about myriad events that brought the South and North into the theater of combat in 19th century America.

They even advanced the absurd notion that the South should not be construed as losing the Civil War.

In fact, a baseless notion was tossed out that the Confederacy lost the war and not the South. At last report, the Confederacy was located in the South — below the Mason-Dixon line, if you will — and represented that region.

Every time there is a discussion of the American Civil War on these pages, rational thought apparently goes screaming out the window, because passions run high on both sides of the issue.

But passion does not excuse bad manners or uncivil language in an intelligent discourse of the Civil War.

Then there are some critics who go around waving so-called secession papers that are supposed to validate that the Confederate states withdrew from the Union solely because of slavery.

These revisionists would have you believe slavery was the flashpoint that ignited the hostilities — the warfare that temporarily ripped this nation apart.

The primary causes of the war were economics and states’ rights. The issue was not solely that the federal government wanted to abolish slavery.

Judge them by their actions

In fact, when you take a close look at the major players, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, commander in chief of the Union Army, remained a slave owner until after the war. His Confederate counterpart, Gen. Robert E. Lee, abhorred slavery.

The war was waged as much on economic grounds as it was military. It is for this reason that the war’s impact is still being felt today, 133 years later.

Then there are these same people who would have you believe that President Lincoln freed the slaves when he signed the Emancipation Proclamation, but constitutional freedom did not come until the 13th Amendment was affirmed. And not until the ratification of the 14th Arnendment were black Americans recognized as citizens.

During the Civil War, at least 200,000 blacks — some 85,000 Confederate soldiers — fought with regiments of the South and North — many showing their valor on the field of battle.

Again, some accounts would have you believe that the legendary Louisiana Native Guard Volunteers unit of the Union Army — who were garrisoned at Fort Massachusetts on Ship Island — was the only heroic black unit that saw combat during the Civil War.

What you probably don’t know is that, during the war, Confederate troops were more of a melting pot than the Union ranks. Along with blacks and whites, there were Scots and Indians.

"Not only did you have people of color, but people of different ancestry fought for the Confederacy," said Capt. Mike Kelley of Pascagoula, a former Marine (ed. Navy flyer!), Civil War historian and keeper of the Terrell’s 34th Texas Cavalry Web site.

In fact, Gen. Stand Waite, a Cherokee, was the last Confederate officer to surrender to Union forces on June 23, 1865 — two months after Lee’s surrender to Grant at Appomattox Courthouse.

There were Rebels of many colors

"As far as the mixture of the cultures and races, the Confederate Army was far more integrated than the Union," Kelley said.

If it is truth you seek about the role blacks played in the Civil War, I strongly suggest you browse the 34th Texas Cavalry Web site at:

It is galling that those who shamelessly recite revisionist rhetoric completely discount the key roles people of color played in Confederate armies.

"We are not allowed to know this," Kelley said. "If this is known, then the racial polarization goes away."

Clearly, there are people who take great glee in keeping the racial pot stirred to a boil.

Nonetheless, the truth is out there, if you have the time and determination to seek it. Because truth not only will it set you free, it will make you a better informed human being.

There are some people in this world of ours who will use misinformation to wield power over an unsuspecting populace. Don’t let it happen to you.

The Virginian-Pilot


Appeared Sunday, October 24, 1999
By Linda McNatt

On a gentle knoll surrounded by the woods and cotton fields of Skeetertown on Saturday, the allegiance and honor of a humble Suffolk farmer was compared to that of Civil War General Robert E. Lee.

”I believe that Jason Boone gave his service to this cause because he loved his home and loved his neighbors,” said F. Lee Hart IV, commander of the Tom Smith Camp, Sons of Confederate Veterans. ”He saw this war as an attack on his home, and, like Robert E. Lee, he refused to raise his sword against his state.”

Boone was a landowner, twice married, father of 30 children. For three years, beginning in 1862, he served in the 41st Virginia Infantry, Company K, Confederate States of America. He was considered a specialist in the building of breastworks – a defensive low wall used in battle – or trenches.

In 1924, at the age of 93, he was granted a pension of $ 6 a month, which he received until his death at 105.

Boone was a free-born black, and for what is thought to be the first time for a black Confederate soldier in Virginia, he was honored on this autumn day with a ceremony and a memorial for his courage.

Boone’s great-granddaughter, Katheryne B. Hamilton, who was born in Suffolk and now lives in Portsmouth, brought the event together.

But not without some misgivings, she said.

”When I first started thinking about it, some of my family members said, ‘Definitely not,’ ” Hamilton said. ”But I have always been so proud of Jason Boone. He was independent. He was a landowner. He was the father of 30 children, married to the mothers of them all. He worked hard and raised those children.”

And, when the Civil War broke out in April 1861, Boone was living on his farm in Skeetertown, a mixed neighborhood of free blacks and white landowners. Boone’s farm remained in family hands until 1981.

”When his neighbors were going to war, these were men he hunted with, fished with, worked with,” she said. ”I believe he did what he felt he had to do. What do I have not to be proud of?”

Hamilton was searching for her family roots more than a year ago when she read a newspaper article about Hart’s efforts to preserve Suffolk’s historic Cedar Hill Cemetery. She called to tell him that her great-grandfather served with the South.

”He asked me if my great-grandfather had a headstone,” Hamilton said. ”At that time, I didn’t even know where he was buried.”

When she found his grave in Landa Cemetery, near the Suffolk Airport, she contacted Hart again, and that’s when he offered a monument for her grandfather’s grave.

After months of preparation, about 100 people – blacks as well as whites, all with a shared heritage – came together to honor a soldier of the Confederacy.

”I am a historian, and today, history is being made,” said Edward C. Smith, a history professor at American University in Washington, who spoke at the ceremony. ”I can’t imagine the times that this man heard, ‘Jason, you’re fighting on the wrong side.’ Why would a black Southerner, especially a Virginian, fight for the Confederacy?”

Smith has made black history in America his lifelong work and has written several books on the subject. Slavery, he said, was an important part of the Civil War, but it did not start it. Slavery, in fact, was not abolished in the nation’s capital until April 1862, a year after the war started.

”History is not what we want the past to be,” he said. ”History is what the past was. We read into the past prejudices of the present. Why would Mr. Boone fight for the South? He was a Southern patriot.”

Smith called Saturday’s event the fulfillment of the dream that Martin Luther King Jr. longed for.

”You see it, right here, today,” he said. And he called Hamilton a hero in her own right.

”I never thought I would see this,” he said, after a cannon salute to Boone and after ”Taps” was played. ”It’s not that blacks today don’t know this part of their history, but they don’t respect it. Mrs. Hamilton has turned a corner.”

Boone, Hamilton said, was descended from Joe Skeeter, an English land surveyor who settled Skeetertown, near the Dismal Swamp. Apparently Skeeter had two interracial marriages. His daughter, Patsy, was Jason’s mother.

Hamilton said that, today, Skeeter’s descendants live both as black and white. ”I’m black, and I’m proud of it,” she said. ”But I don’t think I’m African. How often do any of us see a real African today? I’m an American, and I think it’s time that we all begin to take pride in our American heritage.”

Wiping tears from her eyes on Saturday, with many members of her family sitting before her, Hamilton said that she felt Jason Boone was there with them, and he would have been proud, too.

And in another history-making gesture, the Sons of Confederate Veterans presented the Confederate flag – the flag that has stirred such controversy in recent months from both a political and racial standpoint – the flag that had been laying throughout the ceremonies across Jason Boone’s grave – to his family.

And it was accepted