On Sat, Feb 19, 2011,
Read this and tell me what you think. Part of me thinks this might be partially hogwash, but another part of me wonders if it could be all true…
I have shared this before on other lists, and it has largely fallen on deaf ears, but truth is still truth. Keep your powder dry and give them the cold steel!
1st Sergeant, 37th texas, Cavalry, Company B, CSA
Point Lookout Lee’s Miserables…Dick Poplar
To All Black Leaders, cultural organizations, and Black people in general:
As a fellow African American I wish to extend you all a hand of fellowship and sincere intentions. After all these years that the United States has been a country there still exists a great racial divide between the races, especially between blacks and whites. Today I wish to attempt to begin a sincere dialogue of brotherhood and
understanding. Whites and Blacks have shed blood together in MANY wars, share similar beliefs and concerns, and yet still the closer in similarity we seem the farther apart we are. This largely has to do with
the institution of slavery and the so-called Civil War.
History, which is always written from the 20/20-hindsight vantage point of the victor, is also a multi-faceted phenomenon with stories and side stories. There is no _black and white_ in history, but a rainbow of ethnicities and situations. The motives for folks back then in doing what they did must be taken in perspective on a case by case basis in context of the morals and values of the time and place. Everyone bases their opinions and statements on their experiences. With that I submit the following for your sincere consideration.
Being a descendant of many veterans, there is no one anywhere who appreciates the sacrifices US vets have made for American citizens more than I. However, as a proud black man and historian it is plain that the history books and what the elders who have lived it have to say show a great divide in terms of historical truth. Many of you perhaps look upon the flags of the Confederacy and its many subsequent regimental battle flags as being symbols of racial hate and treason towards the United States. While I fully respect your right to your personal feelings and your right to express them, I submit a few historical truths to consider:
• Slavery was established in 1654 when Anthony Johnson, Northampton County, convinced the court that he was entitled to the lifetime services of John Casor, a negro. This was the first judicial approval of life servitude, except as punishment for a crime.
• But who was Anthony Johnson, winner of this epoch-making decision? Anthony Johnson was a negro himself, one of the original 20 brought to Jamestown (1619) and ‘sold’ to the colonists. By 1623 he
had earned his freedom and by 1651, was prosperous enough to import five ‘servants’ of his own, for which he received a grant of 250 acres as ‘headrights.’
• Anthony Johnson ought to be in a ‘Book of Firsts.’ As the most ambitious of the first 20, he could have been the first negro to set foot on Virginia soil. He was Virginia’s first free negro and first to establish a negro community, first negro landowner, first negro slave owner and as the first, white or black, to secure slave status for a servant, he was actually the founder of slavery in Virginia. A emarkable man." ***Virginia, Guide to The Old Dominion, WPA Writers’ Program, Oxford University Press, NY, 1940, p. 378***
• With the firing on Colonists in Massachusetts during the famous Boston Massacre, four Colonists died, the FIRST being shot was Crispus Attucks a black man. However, Crispus Attucks, an escaped slave from Framingham, Massachusetts, technically cannot be seen as the first "person" to die since at that time blacks were considered property and not human beings.
• Yet despite that he and many others like him served the colonists without any guarantee of freedom until it was advantageous for the colonists to do so. However, During the Revolution many African Americans also sided with the British. Indeed, in November 1775 Lord Dunsmore, the Royal Governor of Virginia, issued a
proclamation that any slaves who fled to his lines and assisted in suppressing the revolt would be given their freedom. Over 2,000 slaves joined Dunmore and became Lord Dunsmore’s Royal Ethiopian Rifles.
I note here that those runaway slaves that sided with the British were given their freedom by simply escaping to British lines. As for their counterparts in the Colonial forces, the folks who fought for the right to secede from Britain and form their own Independent nation were no more traitors than the South was when it chose to
secede from the US.
You might wish to say that _that was different because slavery was not an issue then._ I beg to differ strongly here. Blacks during the Revolutionary War had a choice of freedom with the British or continued slavery under the Colonists and the new nation they were fighting to establish. History is VERY clear in that like blacks
during the American Revolution who sided with the seceding colonists, during the Civil War, blacks who sided with the South had demonstrated that it is possible to hate the system which oppresses you, still love your country and believe that you can demonstrate yourself to be deserving or rights and liberties.
War of 1812
• The status of Blacks in colonial America was still in flux and the established laws provided little protection. Even though slave importation was banned by 1808, some 250,000 more slaves were illegally imported into America from 1808-1860.
• Those Blacks who were willing, able, or chosen to fight the British for America’s defense did so with unusual valor. They fought in various campaigns on both sea and land. Blacks served in naval vessels, in mixed regiments, and in all "colored" regiments. Many were taken as prisoners by the British. One exemplary unit was the TWENTY-SIXTH U. S. INFANTRY REGIMENT consisting of 247 "colored" recruits from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania under the command of Captain William Bezean. Many of these willing and able regiments were held at bay, but many provided the backup and labor to keep the army running effectively. Sketchy records show blacks at the BATTLES OF LAKE ERIE and NEW ORLEANS.
• "The Battalion of Free Men of Color" of New Orleans served Andrew Jackson. The six Black officers of this 250-man battalion were the first Black military officers in American history.
Mexican American War
• In order to secure a fighting force for the Mexican American War, Congress authorized an enlistment of 50,000 volunteers. Blacks did indeed volunteer to serve in this war. Opposition to Blacks serving America’s call of duty caused it to be not always acceptable and at many times questionable and conditional.
• Black soldiers in the Mexican American War comprised a list of freedmen who felt they were mainly showing loyalty to their country by fighting for LIBERTY. Military records have produced names for many of the soldiers. The First Regiment of Volunteers, New York; the Fourth Artillery; and the Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, and Thirteenth
Infantry regiments provided many names. Besides the infantry, ample names were connected with the U. S. Navy, and many were company musicians.
American Civil War
• From the beginning, both black slaves and freeman saw this opportunity to serve in the military as a method for relinquishing their chains and proving their inclusive worthiness to this nation. Some black slaves, for some unknown reasons, remained with their masters and assisted them on the side of the Confederacy during the entire period of the Civil War. On the whole, there was widespread resistance by whites on both the Union blue and Confederate gray sides in accepting Blacks as part of the military. The Union Secretary of War issued a statement:
• "This Department has no intention at the present to call into service of the government any colored soldiers."
• The need for able-bodied fighting men soon led individual states to swear into the military separate regiments of all "colored" troops. Other Blacks found acceptance as volunteers in semimilitary or military support positions. Not until August of 1862 did Blacks receive the endorsement of Congress to serve in the Civil
War. "Congress revoked the militia laws banning Blacks" from serving in the Union Army. All non-whites were compelled to do so.
• Irish-born Confederate Major General Pat Cleburn proposed turning the tables on Lincoln: free the slaves and enlist them as Southern soldiers. "The necessity for more fighting men is upon us," Cleburne wrote on January 2, 1864:
o "We can only get a sufficiency by making the Negro share the danger and hardship of the war. If we arm him and train him and make him fight for his country, every consideration of principle and policy demands that we shall set him and his whole race, who side with us, free."
• Cleburne believed that every rational man would place Southern independence ahead of the outdated system of slavery. However, governments are not always run by rational men. A copy of Cleburne’s proposal was forwarded to Jefferson Davis. The Confederate president commented that although he recognized the "patriotic
motives of its distinguished author, I deem it inexpedient at this time."
• Major General Howell Cobb, a Georgia politician who owned over 1,000 slaves, was shocked by what Cleburne had suggested. "If slaves make good soldiers," said Cobb, "our whole theory of slavery is wrong." NOTE: Most Southerners were poor farmers who could not afford to feed their own families much less buy, house and feed slaves. Cobb_s comments represented the very small formerly-wealthy slaveholding upper-class landowner of the South.
However, on the state and regimental level it was often very different stemming from the concept of States rights. I offer for one of many examples:
• Black Confederates and Afro-Yankees in Civil War Virginia, Ervin L. Jordan, Jr., (Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia, 1995) pp. 218-219& "Tennessee in June 1861 became the first in the South to legislate the use of free black soldiers. The governor was authorized to enroll those between the ages of fifteen and fifty, to be paid $18 a month and the same rations and clothing as white soldiers; the black men appeared in two black regiments in Memphis by September." (Editorial Note: The interesting point to make here is Tennessee was the first state South OR NORTH to legislate the use of black troops.)
• For more information about other documented FACTS about the role of Confederates of Color you I implore to visit my unit’s website at http://www.37thtexas.org with open and mind and heart. We may never agree which side was worse but at least it is clear that there is more to the story then what we already think we already know.
Even with the end of the Civil War in April, 1865, with CSA General Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomatox Court House, the actual abolishment of slavery and freedom for all in servitude did not come until passage of the 13th Amendment in December, 1865, about 8 months after Lee’s surrender. Until that time, the 500,000 slaves in Northern and Union Border States as well as the 300,000+ slaves in areas of the South under Union control remained slaves. While former Confederate slaves reveled in newfound freedom, their brethren under
Federal control languished yet in chains.
Further, blacks were still NOT considered full citizens until passage of the 14th amendment on July 28, 1868 about 3 years and 3 months AFTER Lee’s surrender.
Granted there were good and bad people in the South as well as the North. However, this notion of the North fighting to free blacks and end slavery is a complete farce. If slavery had been the deciding issue, all that Lincoln had to do was to produce laws to protect slavery, which existed above and below the Mason-Dixon line, and the war would not have been.
As a matter of fact, that is exactly what Lincoln and the Federal government offered. On March 2, 1861, the 36th U. S. Congress (minus the seven seceded states of the Deep South) passed by a two-thirds majority a proposed amendment to the Constitution. Had it been ratified by the requisite number of states before the war intervened and signed by President Lincoln (who looked favorably on it as a way to lure the Southern states back into the Union), the proposed 13th Amendment would have prohibited the U. S. government from ever
abolishing or interfering with slavery in any state.
The proposed 13th Amendment read: "No amendment shall be made to the Constitution which will authorize or give to Congress the power to abolish or interfere, within any State, with the domestic institutions there of, including that of persons held to labor or service by the laws of said State." Note that this amendment was
designed to be unrepealable (i.e. "No amendment shall be made . . . .")
This exposes that claims that the Union went to war in 1861 to free the slaves were and are patent lies. It also undermines claims that the South seceded solely to preserve the institution of slavery. If that had been the South’s goal then what better guarantee did it need than an unrepealable amendment to the Constitution to protect slavery as it then existed?
He made it very clear his sole desire was protection of the Union, freeing the slaves or not. However there were other factors such as high tariffs on Southern goods and other such issues which stirred the dander of Southerners by financially draining the South to the enrichment of Northern industrialization.
Slavery was an issue but only a secondary one, and at best a political ploy by the Lincoln administration to keep foreign countries form recognizing the newly formed CSA, and to stifle the growing anti-war sentiment in the North with passage of his _Emancipation Proclamation_ which by its own wording was never intended to free anyone other than _Those slaves held in states or territories in rebellion against the Union." Slaves in areas of
Louisiana and Virginia controlled by the Union were exempt from emancipation as were slaves in West Virginia, Tennessee, and all Union slaveholding and Union Border States.
If the true intent was to genuinely "emancipate" Black Americans why did the Federal government and Lincoln ensure that all slaves held in Union-controlled areas or held by loyal Unionists were left "as if this proclamation had never been issued?"
The roles blacks have played in the forging of this country militarily and otherwise are extensive and well documented. However, our use as such by the US Government throughout the years should cause us all to stop and take notice of what we are doing for the Federal government and why. From the beginning of US history through the Civil War the US had proven time and again that it never had any real _moral concern_ for the plight of those of African descent, but only to use them as a means to further their own agendas and concerns.
One renowned Black group, called the "Buffalo Soldiers," supplied a protective force for the expanding West. They composed the 9th, 10th, 24th, and 25th CAVALRYS. The 9th and 10th Cavalries were formerly all
black regiments in the Civil War. The other two units were organized to increase the protective needs of the westward moving pioneers of Western America.
These "Buffalo Soldiers" were so named by the Native American Indians because of their intense and relentless "reputation for courage." The all black units were present in the campaigns against such tribal
nations as the Apaches, Cheyennes, Comanches, Sioux, and Kiowas.
NOTE: While the Buffalo Soldiers, named so by the Native Americans themselves out of respect for their bravery and using the buffalo because of their wooly hair similar to that of the buffalo, were indeed a very brave and courageous outfit, through their actions helped and aided in the US Governmental incursion and oppression of the Native American peoples. While it is said that they helped as a peacekeeping force and helped keep white settlers off Indian _assigned_ land, their primary duty, was to aid and protect pioneers
moving West and the settlement of land ALREADY BELONGING TO THE Native Americans.
Since this crucial turn of history Blacks have continued to play a major role in the military engagements of the US government, showing total commitment and bravery with their fellow Americans. Why did Blacks fight in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Indian Wars, the Spanish-American War, World War 1, and even World War 2 when they still had no equality in the eyes of the government?
While we can bring ourselves to understand that in these wars they were fighting to prove their loyalty, to prove their bravery, and to prove that they deserved rights and equality we seem unable to understand that that is precisely and exactly the reason why some Southern Blacks chose to serve and fight for the Confederacy. The
South was their home and they wanted their share of its wealth and benefit for themselves and their descendants as free people.
However, even with all of that Blacks are still treated as second class citizens by the very Government with which we as a people STILL have a deeply rooted co-dependent relationship. We blindly follow the
Democratic Party as if they are the Great Savior coming to take us home. The Republican Party which claims to be a party of Conservative values, many of which blacks also embrace particularly where religious faith is concerned, is nothing more than a mirror image of the Democratic party.
We are not yet a free people, not where it counts which is in heart and deed. On paper perhaps, but racism directed at blacks, and all Americans for that matter, is alive and well everywhere throughout the country – not just the South – and as strong as it was then, if not stronger. The federal Government continues to lie and trick us into believing they genuinely care.
My point with all of this is simple.
We have allowed ourselves to be bought out by the federal government at a very cheap price and we are continuing to pay dearly for it. Blacks have faithfully stood by their country in every hour of need with deeds of heroic bravery in every conflict the US was involved in, and still Blacks are no better off under the Negro-loving and protecting federal government than during Post-Civil War America.
We still find ourselves, along with other Americans, fighting with each other over basic economic and physical survival and still fighting bitterly with each other. Meanwhile the culprit continues to tax the daylights out of ALL of us, black and white, getting rich off our concerns and reservations about each other. So-called "Black
leaders," whom I do not recall electing to such self-appointed high position, bleed corporations to fill their own pockets and position friends and family.
The next time you see someone with a CSA flag or memorabilia do not be so quick to judge. Approach him or her, extend a true hand of fellowship and sit, talk and listen to each other. Agree to disagree on some things, yet acknowledge the whole story. It will be a learning experience for both of you. We all could learn a good lesson form the book "The Best of Enemies: race and redemption in the New South." It is a very inspirational and heart-warming TRUE story about a black woman named Ann Atwater who was a community civil rights
activist and a Ku Klux Klan Grand Cyclops named C.P. Ellis who wind up working through their differences and forming a deep friendship. Clearly it can be done again if we all only begin to look past symbols and judge the heart first and foremost. The time has come to sit with ALL of our fellow Americans at the table of brotherhood and truly listen to one another.
Both sides will discover that they were more allies than enemies than we all thought and realize we have let the true enemy off the hook for far too long. Racism knows no single color or ethnic group. There are racists in every single ethnicity including whites and blacks. Start taking the individual for them as such and you just might surprise yourself with what you might find.
Remember, that in the scheme of life the only thing that matters about anyone is individual personal character – everything else is unimportant window-dressing.
Very respectfully yours,
Bob Harrison, 1st Sergeant
37th Texas Cavalry, Company B, CSA
Point Lookout Reenactor, Dick poplar a cook with Lee’s Army, captured at Gettysburg, and kept prisoner at the Point Lookout Prison Camp
Authored the foreword to "Myths of American Slavery" by Walter Donald
From: HK Edgerton [email@example.com]
Date: Sun, Feb 20, 2011
Subject: Re: Myth or fact… ??
Dear Ms. Cashu,
I have met Bob Harrison, and he appears on video on the Documetary film produced by my brother on the Historic March Across Dixie. I can believe he wrote this and meant every word. I believe most of what he wrote can be documented as truth. Now his personal reflections are open to conjecture by the reader. God bless you.