Regarding Black Confederates…

…three quotes from proper sources and a reminder of what a historian is supposed to be:

"The African-American Soldier: From Crispus Attucks to Colin Powell" by Lt. Col

[Ret.] Michael Lee Lanning – "Almost fifty years before the (Civil) War, the South was already enlisting and utilizing Black manpower, including Black commissioned officers, for the defense of their respective states. Therefore, the fact that Free and slave Black Southerners served and fought for their states in the Confederacy cannot be considered an unusual instance, rather continuation of an established practice with verifiable historical precedence."

Elgin (Illinois) Daily Courier-News, Monday, April 12, 1948 – "Robert (Uncle Bob) Wilson, Negro veteran of the Confederate army who observed his 112th birthday last January 13, died early yesterday morning in the veterans’ hospital at the Elgin State hospital…He enlisted as a private in Company H of the 16th regiment of Virginia Infantry on Oct. 9, 1862 and discharged May 31, 1863."

Federal Official Records, Series I, Vol XVI Part I, pg. 805, Lt. Col. Parkhurst’s Report (Ninth Michigan Infantry) on General Forrest’s attack at Murfreesboro, Tenn, July 13, 1862: "The forces attacking my camp were the First Regiment Texas Rangers [8th Texas Cavalry, Terry’s Texas Rangers, ed.], Colonel Wharton, and a battalion of the First Georgia Rangers, Colonel Morrison, and a large number of citizens of Rutherford County, many of whom had recently taken the oath of allegiance to the United States Government. There were also quite a number of negroes attached to the Texas and Georgia troops, who were armed and equipped, and took part in the several engagements with my forces during the day."

"The first law of the historian is that he shall never dare utter an untruth. The second is that he shall suppress nothing that is true. Moreover, there shall be no suspicion of partiality in his writing, or of malice." – Cicero (106-43 B.C.)

Incidentally, the National Park Service accepts that there were Black Confederate combat soldiers and is researching them: June 20, 2005

Much more information is available, especially from official, preserved government records, about the role of African American soldiers in the Union army. The numbers of those soldiers per se were undoubtedly greater than in the Confederate army. In addition, the federal government officially approved a recruitment policy for African Americans, including slaves (the majority of African Americans) into the Union army by 1863. The Confederate States did not officially approve the recruitment of African American slaves into the Confederate army until nearly the end of the war.

While some free African Americans served in the Confederate army, their role is not as well documented and preserved. In addition, many African Americans who served in some capacity in the Confederate army, often anonymously, were slaves. It is difficult to have precise information in the present about the ways in which they served, and the exact military role they played.

We hope over time to be able to include more information on all African Americans who served, both slave and free, including those who served in any capacity in the Confederate war effort. As some writers have pointed out even the official records preserved by the federal government have episodic references to this subject. It is a matter of collecting material from disparate sources to compile a portrait of the issue. It is a less well known part of Civil War history, because it was not as well documented, but it is a part of the overall history that we would like to include over time.

Marilyn W. Nickels, Ph.D.
Project Manager
African-American History Web Project
Office of the Chief Information Officer/NISC
National Park Service
1201 Eye Street, NW
Washington, D.C.
Hari Jones, former Marine and Director of the African-American Civil War Museum in Washington, DC, also fully acepts that there were Black Confederate combat soldiers from the very beginning to the very end of the war. Contact him and ask him.

Through painstaking research and thorough, uncommented documentation we celebrate the courage, sacrifice, and heritage of ALL Southerners who had to make agonizing personal choices under impossible circumstances.

We simply ask that all act upon the facts of history. We invite your questions.

Your Obedient Servant,

Colonel Michael Kelley, CSA
Commanding, 37th Texas Cavalry (Terrell’s)
"We are a band of brothers!"

". . . . political correctness has replaced witch trials and communist hearings as the preferred way to torment our fellow countrymen." "Ghost Riders," Sharyn McCrumb, 2004, Signet, pp. 9

"I came here as a friend…let us stand together. Although we differ in color, we should not differ in sentiment." – LT Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, CSA, Memphis Daily Avalanche, July 6, 1875

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