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Thread: War Between the States

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    Default Re: War Between the States

    Quote Originally Posted by muscogeemike View Post
    I once read of an anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg when vets from both sides were invited to honor the fallen.

    The Union vets were surprised at the number of black Confederate vets who came, apparently they were better received by the Southern vets than the Northern ex-soldiers.

    I’ve seen estimates that from 50,000 to 100,000 blacks served under arms for the South.

    I’ve have also heard from current blacks in the South that it was their war too and that the disputed flag does not offend them.
    Those estimates might be just a tad inflated. CSA statistics are notoriously unreliable because record keeping at that time did not have a high priority. But later statistics probably are quite a bit more reliable. Here's what Wkipedia has to say about Afro-Americans serving in the Confederate Army:

    African Americans in the Confederate Army[edit source | editbeta]

    Main article: Military history of African Americans in the U.S. Civil War#Confederate States Army
    With so many white males conscripted and roughly 40% of its population unfree, the work required to maintain a functioning society in the CSA ended up largely on the backs of slaves.[28] Even Georgia's Governor Joseph E. Brown noted that "the country and the army are mainly dependent upon slave labor for support."[29] Slave labor was used in a wide variety of support roles, from infrastructure and mining, to teamster and medical roles such as hospital attendants and nurses.[30]
    The idea of arming slaves for use as soldiers was speculated on from the onset of the war, but not seriously considered by Davis or others in his administration.[31] Though an acrimonious and controversial debate was raised by a letter from Patrick Cleburne[32] urging the Confederacy to raise black soldiers by offering emancipation, it would not be until Robert E. Lee wrote the Confederate Congress urging them that the idea would take serious traction. On March 13, 1865, the Confederate Congress passed General Order 14,[33] and President Davis signed the order into law. The order was issued March 23, but only a few African American companies were raised.[34] A company or two of black hospital workers was attached to a unit in Richmond, Virginia, shortly before the besieged southern capital fell.[34] A Confederate major later affirmed that the small number of soldiers mustered in Richmond in 1865 were "the first and only black troops used on our side."[34] However, there were varying accounts of black rebel troops. For instance on July 11, 1863, the New York Herald reported: "...And after the battle of Gettysburg in July 1863, ...reported among the rebel prisoners were seven blacks in Confederate uniforms fully armed as soldiers..." While determining an accurate number of African Americans who served in the Confederate armed forces may never be known, the United States Census of 1890 lists 3,273 African Americans who claimed to be Confederate veterans[35]

    From another source,this time commemorating the day that the South decided to recruit black slaves into the Confederate Army at the behest of General Patrick Cleburne and at the urging of General Lee. It was very late in the day for the south.

    The situation was bleak for the Confederates in the spring of 1865. The Yankees had captured large swaths of Southern territory, General William T. Sherman's Union army was tearing through the Carolinas, and General Robert E. Lee was trying valiantly to hold the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia, against General Ulysses S. Grant's growing force. Lee and Confederate President Jefferson Davis had only two options. One was for Lee to unite with General Joseph Johnston's army in the Carolinas and use the combined force to take on Sherman and Grant one at a time. The other option was to arm slaves, the last source of fresh manpower in the Confederacy.

    The idea of enlisting blacks had been debated for some time. [Arming slaves was essentially a way of setting them free, since they could not realistically be sent back to plantations after they had fought. General Patrick Cleburne had suggested enlisting slaves a year before, but few in the Confederate leadership considered the proposal, since slavery was the foundation of Southern society. One politician asked, "What did we go to war for, if not to protect our property?" Another suggested, "If slaves will make good soldiers, our whole theory of slavery is wrong." Lee weighed in on the issue and asked the Confederate government for help. "We must decide whether slavery shall be extinguished by our enemies and the slaves be used against us, or use them ourselves." Lee asked that the slaves be freed as a condition of fighting, but the bill that passed the Confederate Congress on March 13, 1865, did not stipulate freedom for those who served.

    The measure did nothing to stop the destruction of the Confederacy. Several thousand blacks were enlisted in the Rebel cause, but they could not begin to balance out the nearly 200,000 blacks who fought for the Union.

    So, that would be maybe 3,300 black soldiers out of a total of around 1,000,000 Confederate soldiers - more or less - or about 00.33%, and apparently of that number, only a small number ever served near a front line. Even if we assume - and I doubt this assumption is correct - that the number cited is three times that number, it is still less than 10,000. "Soldier" may be a misnomer in that one website noting the occupations of these soldiers as "manservant", "mechanic", "laundress", "carpenter" and so on. Although there have been persistent myths, legends and rumors about blacks rushing to 'protect their way of life' (ie., slavery), it stretches credulity to the breaking point, especially when seen in the light of the incentive for enlisting blacks was emancipation! Lincoln, of course, had already emancipated the slaves in 1863. It is a sad reminder of just how desperate the South was for manpower.
    Last edited by royal744; 09-04-2013 at 04:10 PM.

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