Black Confederates – Some Facts
1. We know that 750,000 men served in the Confederate armed forces. We know that United States Army Surgeon Dr. Lewis Steiner observed Jackson’s ANV Corps march through Frederick, Maryland in 1862, and he stated that "Over 3,000 Negroes must be included in this number. These were clad in all kinds of uniforms, not only in cast-off or captured United States uniforms, but in coats with Southern buttons, State buttons, etc. Most of the Negroes had arms, rifles, muskets, sabers, bowie knives, dirks, etc. … and were manifestly an integral portion of the Southern Confederate Army." Steiner’s testimony is in the Official Record of the War of the Rebellion. If the black proportion of Jackson’s Corps was the same in all CSA forces, there would easily have been 90,000 or more black Confederates.
2. Another estimate resulting in 90,000 Black Confederates is based on the Southern States pension applications. In Tennessee, nearly 300 "Colored Man’s Pensions" were issued for Confederate Army service. The restrictions were such that for 300 men to receive these pensions in the 1920s, far far more than 300 must have served in Tennessee Confederate forces in the War. Not all men who served in the War were even alive in the 1920s, not all were still in Tennessee, not all could find two members of their unit to vouch for their service 60 years earlier, etc. Extrapolations using reasonable parameters tell us that some 6000 or 8000 black Tennesseans must have served, in order for 300 to qualify for the pensions in the 1920s. With 13 Southern states, the 90,000 figure looks reasonable. South Carolina has published a book listing each of the nearly 300 blacks in that state who received similar pensions at about the same time.
There is a predictable course that doubters take once the evidence of black Confederates is presented.
1. At first they deny the possibility, then
2. they dispute the evidence, and then next
3. they argue that the black Confederates were not "real soldiers," then
4. they argue that the blacks were forced to serve.
Each of these points is easily countered by contemporary testimony, most of which is found in the United States Official Records of the War of the Rebellion.
Blacks have served in every American war. Five thousand blacks, slave and free, served in Washington’s Army in the First American Revolution. The British offered immediate emancipation to American black slaves in return for changing sides, but few did. As Dr. Edward Smith of American University states, if we are not surprised that blacks served with General Washington, why would we be surprised to learn that they served with General Lee?
I served with blacks in the U.S. Marines 1972 to 1975. Why did they serve? Why did I serve? Were they forced? Was I forced? The answers vary some, but are little different, black or white, or from war to war.
I have put some of my writing on these topics at www.rebelgray.com/BLACKREBS.htm .
1. Did Black Confederates serve as combatants in the War for Southern Independence?
2. How did Black Southerners respond when war was declared?
3. Did Blacks serve in the Confederate army as soldiers?
4. Were Blacks forced to fight for the South?
5. Why Blacks fought for the Confederate States of America
6. The Valor of Black Confederates
7. Twelve Reasons we don’t want to believe in Black Confederates
And also at www.rebelgray.com/slavery02.htm : Why Americans Want to Believe the Civil War Was Fought To Free The Slaves.
Vernon R. Padgett, Ph.D.