Onslow County’s Black Civil War Soldiers
Fighting for Freedom or Committing Treason?
The recent program in Onslow County, North Carolina (see link below) regarding the four regiments of black soldiers raised there during Northern occupation of that region was billed as a celebration of black history month, freedom and personal stories of local African-Americans. What was not mentioned is the question of loyalty to their State, and of treason.
The Constitution of North Carolina in 1861 stipulated that treason against the State “shall consist only of levying War against her, or in adhering to her enemies; giving them aid and comfort.” This was identical to the United States Constitution, as well as the Confederate States Constitution definition of treason. Even if one grants the claim that North Carolina never left the Union, the United States Constitution’s definition was the same. Further, the United States Supreme Court later ruled (Texas vs White) that the Constitution was not suspended during war, and it follows that the Fugitive Slave law still in effect would have required Federal officials to return black men to their owners, not recruit them into segregated black regiments. The claim of military necessity would not overrule the Constitution.
Those North Carolinians, white or black, who levied war against the State, and adhered to its enemies for whatever reason, committed treason against the State by the above definition. As North Carolina fought for its very survival and political independence during the Revolution, the War of 1812, and the War Between the States, it found many black North Carolinians fighting for the enemy – first and second the British, then the North.
In an open and honest discussion of North Carolina during the War Between the States, the heroism, courage and sacrifice of brave soldiers defending their State is held up to our young people as high patriotism to emulate; the treacherous conduct of those who fought for and assisted our State’s enemies with the intention of overthrowing our republican form of government and instituting military rule must be condemned. Now as it was then, one who is a citizen of this State and who adheres to an Al Qaeda or foreign enemy that attacks our State, is guilty of treason against North Carolina.
Bernhard Thuersam, Chairman
North Carolina War Between the States Sesquicentennial Commission
"The Official Website of the North Carolina WBTS Sesquicentennial"
Onslow County Black Civil War Soldiers and Sailors event set for Saturday
Program looks at area’s black ancestors who fought in the Civil War