In the book, Confederate Emancipation, General Richard Ewell made the following statement concerning the possibility of slaves fighting for the Confederacy, after the battle of Manassas: "The South is only at the beginning of a long, and best a doubtful Struggle, but there is one measure that will secure the defense of Southern Independence, and that is the Emancipation and arming of Slaves.
Between January 1861 thru February 1862, Governor Pettus of Mississippi received 3 petitions from Planters concerning the arming of slaves.
1) January 1861, Pettus received the petition to repeal the state law that forbade the arming of slaves, so that their masters may on their own premises, practice and drill their own slaves in the defense of their plantations and country
A later petition to Governor Pettus stated," the population of the southern states is a complex one, consisting of two races. It is therefore foolish to attempt the defense of this country with only element of its power at its disposal".
On February 1862, Pettus received another petition to authorize "a portion of slaves for the military service of their country." It appears Mississippi was really concerned about this issue of arming slaves.
In 1860 3.5 million slaves made up 40 percent of the Confederacy’s population. One wonders if the outcome of the war would have been different if they had used slaves at the beginning of the war in defense of their country
The book Confederate Emancipation is a great book if you get a chance to read it.