A CO. 4TH USCT.jpg

`page.data.shortTitle || page.data.title`



Pictures & Records

`::image.description || image.title`

Add your story…

Confederate Troops

story image(s)
A CO. 4TH USCT.jpg
Confederate States Army

Because of the controversial nature of the subject the debate over how many African-Americans served in Confederate uniform, and how many of them served willingly and without coercion is contentious. One estimate by Ed Smith of American University suggests that between 60,000 and 93,000 blacks, both slave and free, served in the confederate military in some capacity; however, the vast majority of these were likely teamsters, cooks, musicians, and hospital attendants.

"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." - "The African-American Soldier: From Crispus Attucks to Colin Powell" by Lt. Col (retired) Michael Lee Lanning, Birch Lane Press (June 1997)

There were many recorded instances of combat service of Black Confederates which can be found in the Federal Official Records, Northern and Southern newspapers and the letters and diaries of soldiers from both sides. In addition there are recorded instances of Black Southerners serving as regularly-enlisted combat soldiers before the Union allowed enlistment of Blacks.

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."

For most of the war the Confederate Government prohibited the enlistment of African Americans as armed soldiers in the national army, but the states and individual units often varied from or ignored outright such prohibitions since there were actually very few "national army" regiments at any time during the war with most military units still under state command on loan to the Confederate government.

The keywords in discussing "official Confederate policy" regarding Black soldiers are "national army." States still controlled their military policies within the Confederate command structure but, unlike the Union, did not surrender total control of their forces as part of a "national army."

The Confederate Congress authorized salaries for black musicians in 1862, stating "whenever colored persons are employed as musicians in any regiment or company, they shall be entitled to the same pay now allowed by law to musicians regularly enlisted."

Some individual states in the confederacy permitted free blacks to enlist as soldiers in their state militias continuing a longstanding tradition. The first to do so was Tennessee which passed a law on June 21, 1861 authorizing the recruitment of state militia units composed of "free persons of color" between the ages of 15 and 50. Louisiana, which had a sizable free black population, followed suit and assembled the all-black 1st Louisiana Native Guard. This regiment was later forced to disband in February, 1862 when the state legislature passed a law in January, 1862, that reorganized the militia by conscripting “all the free white males capable of bearing arms… irrespective of nationality”.

Captured Union African-American soldiers, however, were not treated with equality by Confederate troops as white troops. It is a popularly-held folk legend unsupported by documentation that those who were captured were summarily put to death along with any white Union officers who were captured having led them into battle - this was a policy stated, but not put into practice, by the Confederacy. In reality, Black Union soldiers who were captured were treated as runaway slaves and, if their owners could be located, returned to them. If the owners could not be located they were put to work to support the Confederate war effort.

Alabama authorized the enlistment of "mixed blood" creoles in 1862 for a state militia unit in Mobile.

Black Southerners served as combat soldiers often with some of the most celebrated and feared Confederate commands and commanders:

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 many 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."

In January 1864, General Patrick Cleburne and several other Confederate officers in the Army of the Tennessee proposed using slaves as soldiers in the national army since the Union was using black troops. Cleburne recommended offering slaves their freedom if they fought and survived. Confederate President Jefferson Davis refused to consider Cleburne's proposal and forbade further discussion of the idea.

The concept, however, did not die. By the fall of 1864, the South was losing more and more ground, and some believed that only by arming the slaves could defeat be averted. On January 11, 1865 General Robert E. Lee wrote the Confederate Congress urging them to arm and enlist black slaves in exchange for their freedom. On March 13, the Confederate Congress passed General Order 14, and President Davis signed the order into law. The order was issued March 23, 1865, but only a few African American companies were raised. Two companies were armed and drilled in the streets of Richmond, Virginia shortly before the besieged southern capital fell.

Despite popular legend, there is documentary evidence that they did see limited combat service:

Richmond Sentinel, March 21, 1865 - "THE BATTALION from Camps Winder and Jackson, under the command of Dr. Chambliss, including the company of colored troops under Captain Grimes, will parade on the square on Wednesday evening, at 4* o’clock. This is the first company of negro troops raised in Virginia. It was organized about a month since, by Dr. Chambliss, from the employees of the hospitals, and served on the lines during the recent Sheridan raid. "

One of the units accompanied General Lee's retreat toward Appomattox and fought at the battle of Amelia, Virginia two days before Lee's surrender.

Patrick Cleburne

story image(s)


Black Confederates

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 1, 1996 – Confederate Maj. Gen. Patrick Cleburne was a born fighter. A division commander in the Army of Tennessee, Cleburne hated to lose.

In 1864, Union forces, with their virtually unlimited resources of men and materiel, were grinding the Confederacy toward defeat. Cleburne saw an untapped Southern resource he wanted to use before it was too late.

Cleburne made a revolutionary proposal to Army Commander Gen. Braxton Bragg: Arm Southern slaves and have them fight for their freedom with the Confederate army.

What mattered to Cleburne was not the institution of slavery, but the establishment of the Confederate States of America. He believed logical men would see the only way to overcome the tremendous Union advantages in men and materiel was to arm the slaves.

But there was nothing logical about slavery. Bragg, his corps commanders and selected division commanders in the Army of Tennessee listened to Cleburnes proposal in shocked silence. The whole idea was repugnant to them. Still, Bragg forwarded Cleburnes proposal to Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

Davis killed the idea and in fact was so worried about the effect of such a proposal on morale that he suppressed any mention of it. Cleburnes novel idea did not see the light of day until 40 years after the war.

But African Americans did serve with Confederate armies. And eventually they even bore arms for the Confederacy.

Early in the war, "Free Negroes" tried to enlist in the Confederate army. Black militia units, most notably in Louisiana, rushed to join in the war. The Confederate government did not accept the black militia units for army duty. None of the units appear to have been in combat, but many may have performed what is called combat service support today.

Thousands of African Americans marched off to war for the Confederacy. Many accompanied their masters, and there were isolated instances throughout the war of these "body servants" as these slaves were called taking up arms when their masters went into combat.

Many other slaves served as laborers for the Confederate army. During the Atlanta campaign of 1864, for instance, Confederate Gen. Joseph Johnston used thousands of slaves to prepare fortifications as his army sparred with that of Union Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman.

Thousands more slaves served the Confederate army driving horsedrawn supply wagons. The Confederate fighting force was white, but much of its support was black.

But sheer Union numbers facing the Confederacy meant arming the slaves and giving them freedom was almost inevitable. The Northern population was 20 million. Of the Souths 9 million people, onethird were African American.

By late 1864, it was becoming apparent to even the most optimistic Southerner that the North was winning. The fall of Atlanta and Sherman's subsequent March to the Sea, Union victories in Virginias Shenandoah Valley and Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grants death grip on Richmond and Petersburg, Va., meant time was running out for the Confederacy. The last hope expired when Northern voters reelected Abraham Lincoln president.

Now desperate, Jefferson Davis embraced an idea he thought revolting a year earlier. The Confederate Congress began looking at bills allowing the enlistment of African Americans into the army in early 1865. Confederate Secretary of State Judah P. Benjamin spoke at rallies around Richmond. He said 680,000 AfricanAmerican males were ready to fight for the Confederacy: "Let us say to every Negro who wants to go into the ranks, 'Go and fight, and you are free ... Fight for your masters, and you shall have your freedom.'"

Representatives from the Deep South were especially keen on getting blacks to enlist theirs was the land Sherman was laying to waste. Some in the Confederate government saw the measure as an admission the Confederacy was wrong about slavery from the beginning.

"If we are right in passing this measure we were wrong in denying to the old government [the United States] the right to interfere with the institution of slavery and to emancipate slaves, Virginia Sen. Robert M.T. Hunter said. Besides, if we offer slaves their freedom ... we confess that we were insincere, were hypocritical, in asserting that slavery was the best state for the Negroes themselves."

In February 1865, the Confederate Congress, after months of stalling, passed an act allowing black enlistments. Immediately, Virginia started enlisting slaves to fight for the Confederacy.

White officers commanded these battalions. They drilled and marched in downtown Richmond. Recruiters hit the areas around Richmond and Petersburg, but they moved too slowly for Rebel Gen. Robert E. Lee. He took officers from the Army of Northern Virginia and started recruiting blacks immediately.

But time ran out. On March 31, Union forces broke the Confederate lines at Petersburg. Lee was compelled to evacuate Richmond and Petersburg. His only hope of carrying on the fight was to escape to North Carolina and link up with Confederate forces there.

Records from the time are incomplete, but several thousand African Americans may have served as soldiers for the Confederacy. Anecdotal evidence implies at least some went into combat against Union forces.

On April 4, a Confederate courier observed black Confederates defending a wagon train near Amelia Court House, Va. When Union cavalry approached, the black soldiers formed up, fired and drove them off. The cavalry reformed, charged and took the wagon train.

Later, near Farmville, Va., white refugees saw black Confederates building and preparing to man fortifications.

Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox, Va., on April 9. The enlistment of black Confederate soldiers was the dying gasp of the South.

Patrick Ronayne Cleburne (March 16 or March 17, 1828– November 30, 1864) was a major general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War, killed at the Battle of Franklin

Cleburne was killed during an ill conceived assault, which Cleburne opposed, on Union fortifications at the Battle of Franklin, just south of Nashville, Tennessee, on November 30, 1864. He was last seen advancing on foot toward the Union entrenchment with his sword raised after his horse was shot out from under him. Accounts later said that he was found just inside the Federal lines and carried back to an aid station along the Columbia Turnpike. Confederate war records indicate he died of a shot to the abdomen.

Cleburne's remains were laid to rest at St. John's Church near Mount Pleasant, Tennessee, where they remained for six years. In 1870, he was disinterred and returned to his adopted hometown of Helena, Arkansas, with much fanfare and buried in Evergreen Cemetery, overlooking the Mississippi River.

Rally to Them

story image(s)


Confederates of color denied their honor!

Time is, indeed, running out for the chance to Remember and Honor the tens of thousands of Black, Brown, Red and Yellow Southerners and those of foreign birth who wore the gray and fought to defend their homes and families. There are those who are making concerted efforts to abolish or deny documented evidence of their service.

With the 1998 dedication of the monument to the United States Colored Troops and the listing of the database of those veterans on the World Wide Web a piece of missing history and heritage has been restored to its rightful place.

But there is yet another missing piece to the puzzle. Tens of thousands of Men of Color (African-American, Hispanic, Native American and Chinese-American) and many more foreign-born Southrons served in uniform and in combat with Confederate forces. These brave men remain mostly unknown, unrecognized, and unheralded even by the descendants of those who honor the memories of their own brave ancestors.

The 37th Texas Cavalry refuses to allow the memory of many brave Southrons to be relegated to dusty back shelves until the story of their service is but vague legend. The Valor and Sacrifice of ALL who followed their hearts and served in Gray must be recognized as befits their sacrifice.

We invite all Americans of Honor, Confederate and Federal alike, to join with the 37th to restore a History and Heritage which is being denied and hidden.

Source: http://www.37thtexas.org/html/ConColor.html

The Chandler Boys

story image(s)
Enlisting in the Palo Alto Confederates in 1861 from his home in Palo Alto, Mississippi, at age 15 Andrew Martin Chandler was mustered into Co. F of Blythe's Mississippi Infantry, 44th Mississippi Infantry. He participated in several campaigns with his childhood playmate, friend and former slave, 17 year-old Silas Chandler.

Andrew was captured at Shiloh and was held prisoner in Ohio while Silas made repeated trips home to Mississippi to bring Andrew needed goods. Andrew was exchanged and he and Silas returned to their unit. Andrew was later wounded at Chickamauga. Army surgeons prepared to amputate his leg, but Silas used a piece of gold given to him by Andrew's mother to buy whiskey to bribe the surgeons to release him. He carried Andrew on his back for several miles and loaded him onto a boxcar heading to Atlanta - once there Andrew was taken to a hospital, where Silas cared for him until the family could join them - his leg, and possibly his life, were saved by Silas' attention and efforts.

The following is from a 1950 typed transcript of handwritten notes from an interview with Andrew Martin Chandler conducted in 1912:

"He served in the Confederate Army, and even in 1912, was still true to the cause. He told me much about his service in the army, even though he considered his contribution as rather slight, being that of less importance than any soldier in the ranks.

While there, he told me of another Silas Chandler that served with him in the Army. This Silas was a former slave owned by his parents, who was papered out just before the war. Even though he was granted his freedom, he insisted on going off to war with Andrew, partially because of their friendship, and partially because since Silas was a little older, he felt that he needed to protect Andrew. Andrew told me that even though Silas was considered a servant by the other men and blacks in the unit, he was very much an equal, displaying just as much hatred for the yankees as anyone in the whole unit!

Andrew then showed me an old picture of the two of them together, and while they appeared as mere boys, the look of stern determination on their faces tells the whole story of their dedication to each other and their country."

Andrew and Silas returned to Palo Alto, remained fast friends, lived close by each other and, in 1878, Andrew signed the papers which resulted in Silas receiving a Mississippi Confederate Veteran Pension.

Andrew gave Silas land adjoining one of the the Chandler plantations on which Silas built a church for the Black population of Palo Alto. Andrew Martin Chandler, born April 3, 1846, died May 7, 1920, and veteran of the 44th Mississippi Infantry, CSA, rests in Palo Alto beneath a gravestone decorated with Confederate symbols within the family graveyard, which is surrounded by a iron fence. Just across the road, the church Silas built still stands, and the past members of that church also lie in rest on all three sides of Andrew Chandler.

Silas Chander, Black Confederate veteran and faithful friend, lies eight to ten miles away, his grave now decorated with a Confederate Iron Cross deservedly placed there in a Confederate Honor Service eight years ago under the guidance of the Mississippi Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Andrew's Great-grandson, Andrew Chandler Battaile, still lives in Mississippi, while Silas' Great--grandson, Bobbie Chandler, lives the Northeast. About eight years ago, the two men reunited and restored the family relationship.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The Silas Chandler story is featured in a Mississippi history videotape used at the High School level.

On Black Confederates

story image(s)

Black Confederates Why haven't we heard more about them?

National Park Service historian, Ed Bearrs, stated, "I don't want to call it a conspiracy to ignore the role of Blacks both above and below the Mason-Dixon line, but it was definitely a tendency that began around 1910"

Historian, Erwin L. Jordan, Jr., calls it a "cover-up" which started back in 1865. He writes, "During my research, I came across instances where Black men stated they were soldiers, but you can plainly see where 'soldier' is crossed out and 'body servant' inserted, or 'teamster' on pension applications." Another black historian, Roland Young, says he is not surprised that blacks fought. He explains that "some, if not most, Black southerners would support their country" and that by doing so they were "demonstrating it's possible to hate the system of slavery and love one's country." This is the very same reaction that most African Americans showed during the American Revolution, where they fought for the colonies, even though the British offered them freedom if they fought for them.

It has been estimated that over 65,000 Southern blacks were in the Confederate ranks. Over 13,000 of these, "saw the elephant" also known as meeting the enemy in combat. These Black Confederates included both slave and free. The Confederate Congress did not approve blacks to be officially enlisted as soldiers (except as musicians), until late in the war. But in the ranks it was a different story. Many Confederate officers did not obey the mandates of politicians, they frequently enlisted blacks with the simple criteria, "Will you fight?" Historian Ervin Jordan, explains that "biracial units" were frequently organized "by local Confederate and State militia Commanders in response to immediate threats in the form of Union raids". Dr. Leonard Haynes, an African-American professor at Southern University, stated, "When you eliminate the black Confederate soldier, you've eliminated the history of the South."

As the war came to an end, the Confederacy took progressive measures to build back up its army. The creation of the Confederate States Colored Troops, copied after the segregated northern colored troops, came too late to be successful. Had the Confederacy been successful, it would have created the world's largest armies (at the time) consisting of black soldiers,even larger than that of the North. This would have given the future of the Confederacy a vastly different appearance than what modern day racist or anti-Confederate liberals conjecture. Not only did Jefferson Davis envision black Confederate veterans receiving bounty lands for their service, there would have been no future for slavery after the goal of 300,000 armed black CSA veterans came home after the war.

1. The "Richmond Howitzers" were partially manned by black militiamen. They saw action at 1st Manassas (or 1st Battle of Bull Run) where they operated battery no. 2. In addition two black "regiments", one free and one slave, participated in the battle on behalf of the South. "Many colored people were killed in the action", recorded John Parker, a former slave.

2. At least one Black Confederate was a non-commissioned officer. James Washington, Co. D 35th Texas Cavalry,  Confederate States Army, became it's 3rd Sergeant. Higher ranking black commissioned officers served in militia units, but this was on the State militia level (Louisiana)and not in the regular C.S. Army.

3. Free black musicians, cooks, soldiers and teamsters earned the same pay as white confederate privates. This was not the case in the Union army where blacks did not receive equal pay. At the Confederate Buffalo Forge in Rockbridge County, Virginia, skilled black workers "earned on average three times the wages of white Confederate soldiers and more than most Confederate army officers ($350- $600 a year).

4. Dr. Lewis Steiner, Chief Inspector of the United States Sanitary Commission while observing Gen. "Stonewall" Jackson's occupation of Frederick, Maryland, in 1862: "Over 3,000 Negroes must be included in this number [Confederate troops]. These were clad in all kinds of uniforms, not only in cast-off or captured United States uniforms, but in coats with Southern buttons, State buttons, etc. These were shabby, but not shabbier or seedier than those worn by white men in the rebel ranks. Most of the Negroes had arms, rifles, muskets, sabers, bowie-knives, dirks, etc.....and were manifestly an integral portion of the Southern Confederate Army."

5. Frederick Douglas reported, "There are at the present moment many Colored men in the Confederate Army doing duty not only as cooks, servants and laborers, but real soldiers, having musket on their shoulders, and bullets in their pockets, ready to shoot down any loyal troops and do all that soldiers may do to destroy the Federal government and build up that of the rebels."

6. Black and white militiamen returned heavy fire on Union troops at the Battle of Griswoldsville (near Macon, GA). Approximately 600 boys and elderly men were killed in this skirmish.

7. In 1864, President Jefferson Davis approved a plan that proposed the emancipation of slaves, in return for the official recognition of the Confederacy by Britain and France. France showed interest but Britain refused.

8. The Jackson Battalion included two companies of black soldiers. They saw combat at Petersburg under Col. Shipp. "My men acted with utmost promptness and goodwill...Allow me to state sir that they behaved in an extraordinary acceptable manner."

9. Recently the National Park Service, with a recent discovery, recognized that blacks were asked to help defend the city of Petersburg, Virginia and were offered their freedom if they did so. Regardless of their official classification, black Americans performed support functions that in today's army many would be classified as official military service. The successes of white Confederate troops in battle, could only have been achieved with the support these loyal black Southerners.

10. Confederate General John B. Gordon (Army of Northern Virginia) reported that all of his troops were in favor of Colored troops and that it's adoption would have "greatly encouraged the army". Gen. Lee was anxious to receive regiments of black soldiers. The Richmond Sentinel reported on 24 Mar 1864, "None will deny that our servants are more worthy of respect than the motley hordes which come against us." "Bad faith [to black Confederates] must be avoided as an indelible dishonor."

11. In March 1865, Judah P. Benjamin, Confederate Secretary Of State, promised freedom for blacks who served from the State of Virginia. Authority for this was finally received from the State of Virginia and on April 1st 1865, $100 bounties were offered to black soldiers. Benjamin exclaimed, "Let us say to every Negro who wants to go into the ranks, go and fight, and you are free Fight for your masters and you shall have your freedom." Confederate Officers were ordered to treat them humanely and protect them from "injustice and oppression".

12. A quota was set for 300,000 black soldiers for the Confederate States Colored Troops. 83% of Richmond's male slave population volunteered for duty. A special ball was held in Richmond to raise money for uniforms for these men. Before Richmond fell, black Confederates in gray uniforms drilled in the streets. Due to the war ending, it is believed only companies or squads of these troops ever saw any action. Many more black soldiers fought for the North, but that difference was simply a difference because the North instituted this progressive policy more sooner than the more conservative South. Black soldiers from both sides received discrimination from whites who opposed the concept .

13. Union General U.S. Grant in Feb 1865, ordered the capture of "all the Negro men before the enemy can put them in their ranks." Frederick Douglass warned Lincoln that unless slaves were guaranteed freedom (those in Union controlled areas were still slaves) and land bounties, "they would take up arms for the rebels".

14. On April 4, 1865 (Amelia County, VA), a Confederate supply train was exclusively manned and guarded by black Infantry. When attacked by Federal Cavalry, they stood their ground and fought off the charge, but on the second charge they were overwhelmed. These soldiers are believed to be from "Major Turner's" Confederate command.

15. A Black Confederate, George _____, when captured by Federals was bribed to desert to the other side. He defiantly spoke, "Sir, you want me to desert, and I ain't no deserter. Down South, deserters disgrace their families and I am never going to do that."

16. Former slave, Horace King, accumulated great wealth as a contractor to the Confederate Navy. He was also an expert engineer and became known as the "Bridge builder of the Confederacy." One of his bridges was burned in a Yankee raid. His home was pillaged by Union troops, as his wife pleaded for mercy.

17. As of Feb. 1865 1,150 black seamen served in the Confederate Navy. One of these was among the last Confederates to surrender, aboard the CSS Shenandoah, six months after the war ended. This surrender took place in England.

18. Nearly 180,000 Black Southerners, from Virginia alone, provided logistical support for the Confederate military. Many were highly skilled workers. These included a wide range of jobs: nurses, military engineers, teamsters, ordnance department workers, brakemen, firemen, harness makers, blacksmiths, wagonmakers, boatmen, mechanics, wheelwrights, etc. In the 1920'S Confederate pensions were finally allowed to some of those workers that were still living. Many thousands more served in other Confederate States.

19. During the early 1900's, many members of the United Confederate Veterans (UCV) advocated awarding former slaves rural acreage and a home. There was hope that justice could be given those slaves that were once promised "forty acres and a mule" but never received any. In the 1913 Confederate Veteran magazine published by the UCV, it was printed that this plan "If not Democratic, it is [the] Confederate" thing to do. There was much gratitude toward former slaves, which "thousands were loyal, to the last degree", now living with total poverty of the big cities. Unfortunately, their proposal fell on deaf ears on Capitol Hill.

20. During the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg in 1913, arrangements were made for a joint reunion of Union and Confederate veterans. The commission in charge of the event made sure they had enough accommodations for the black Union veterans, but were completely surprised when unexpected black Confederates arrived. The white Confederates immediately welcomed their old comrades, gave them one of their tents, and "saw to their every need". Nearly every Confederate reunion including those blacks that served with them, wearing the gray.

21. The first military monument in the US Capitol that honors an African-American soldier is the Confederate monument at Arlington National cemetery. The monument was designed 1914 by Moses Ezekiel, a Jewish Confederate. Who wanted to correctly portray the "racial makeup" in the Confederate Army. A black Confederate soldier is depicted marching in step with white Confederate soldiers. Also shown is one "white soldier giving his child to a black woman for protection".- source: Edward Smith, African American professor at the American University, Washington DC.

22. Black Confederate heritage is beginning to receive the attention it deserves. For instance, Terri Williams, a black journalist for the Suffolk "Virginia Pilot" newspaper, writes: "I've had to re-examine my feelings toward the [Confederate] flag started when I read a newspaper article about an elderly black man whose ancestor worked with the Confederate forces. The man spoke with pride about his family member's contribution to the cause, was photographed with the [Confederate] flag draped over his lap that's why I now have no definite stand on just what the flag symbolizes, because it no longer is their history, or my history, but our history."

By Scott Williams

Bill Yopp~Ten Cent Bill

story image(s)

Bill Yopp, colored, enlisted in the 14th Georgia Infantry on July 9, 1861, as a drummer. He surrendered at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865.

After the war, now a free man, he returned to the Yopp plantation in Georgia and worked there until 1870. He then secured a job as bell boy at the Brown House in Macon. From there he went to New York, California, Europe, and then worked as a porter on the private car of the President of the Delaware and Hudson Railway.

In his later years he returned to Georgia to find his former master, Captain T.M. Yopp, ready to be enrolled in the Confederate Soldier's Home in Atlanta. Bill was a frequent visitor to the home, not only to see his former master but the other Confederate veterans as well. At Christmas, with the help of the Macon Telegraph, he raised enough money to give each resident in the home $3.

In 1920 Bill wrote a book entitled "Bill Yopp, 'Ten-Cent' Bill". The book was about his exploits before, during, and after the war. The book sold for 15 cents a copy, or $1.50 for a dozen. Proceeds were shared by Bill and the Confederate Soldier's Home. The Confederate veterans were so appreciative of Bills help that they took up a collection and awarded him a medal. The board of trustees voted to allow Bill to stay at the Home for as long as he lived. He was one of the last remaining veterans in the Home when it closed its doors in the 1940's. Bill was also a member of the Atlanta U.C.V. Camp.

When "Ten Cent" Bill Yopp died he was buried in the Confederate Cemetery in Marietta, Georgia, the same place as his former master Captain T.M. Yopp.

Additional Information:

By Scott B. Thompson, Sr.

Bill Yopp was born in Laurens County, Georgia. Like his parents he was a slave belonging to the family of Jeremiah Yopp. Bill was the fourth of eight children. The Yopp family owned two major plantations. One was located in the western part of Dublin centered around the Brookwood Subdivision. A second was located along the eastern banks of Turkey Creek near the community known as Moore's Station. Other small plantations were scattered over the county. Jeremiah Yopp assigned Bill to his son, Thomas. Bill later said that he followed Thomas like "Mary's little lamb." The two instantly became friends. They fished, hunted, and played together. Bill's childhood, while stifled by slavery, was molded by education and religion within the plantation, which included regular church services.

On January 16, 1861, Jeremiah Yopp attended the Convention of Secession at the capital in Milledgeville. Laurens Countians voted to side with the Cooperationists who favored remaining in the Union. Yopp, the largest plantation owner in western Laurens County, was joined by Dr. Nathan Tucker, a wealthy plantation owner from northeastern Laurens County. Dr. Tucker, a northerner by birth, voted to remain in the Union. Yopp cast his vote with the majority who voted for secession.

The first company of Confederate Soldiers in Laurens County were organized on July 9th, 1861 as the Blackshear Guards. The company eventually became attached to the 14th Georgia Volunteer Infantry Regiment. Thomas Yopp was elected First Lieutenant. Nine days later Thomas Yopp was promoted to Captain when Rev. W.S. Ramsay was elected Lt. Colonel of the regiment. Bill wanted to join Lieutenant Yopp. Bill enlisted in the Blackshear Guards as the company drummer. In those days the position of company drummer was not an easy assignment. Marching in front of company going into battle was not the best place to be. The company went to Atlanta for training and then to Lynchburg, Virginia, just after the Battle of the First Manassas. The company was sent to West Virginia in August where they fought under the command of Gen. John B. Floyd, a former Secretary of War in the Buchanan Administration. Gen. Robert E. Lee was in overall command of the West Virginia campaign.

Bill often found himself between the battle lines. He often said "I had no inclination to go to the Union side, as I did not know the Union soldiers and the Confederate soldiers I did now, and I believed then as now, tried and true friends are better than friends you do not know." On several occasions Private Yopp was sent out on foraging missions. Bill ceased to forage for food because his Captain and friend found it to be "wrong - doing." Bill obtained a brush and box of shoe blackening and shined the shoes of the men of the regiment. He soon began performing other services for the men. Bill charged ten cents, no matter what the service was. The nickname of "Ten Cent Bill" was penned on Bill. Bill often had more money than anyone in the company. His fellow company members took delight in teaching him to read and write and when he was sick, took care of him. Bill had a case of home sickness. Captain Yopp paid for his trip home. Bill realized that his place was back with Captain Yopp in Virginia. During the winter of 1861 the company became part of the Army of Northern Virginia.

The first battle of the peninsular campaign of 1862 took place on May 31st. The 14th Georgia under the command of Gen. Wade Hampton got into a bloody fight with the Federal forces. Four Confederate Generals were wounded or killed. Captain Yopp was also wounded in the Battle of Seven Pines. Bill comforted Captain Yopp and accompanied to the field hospital and after a short stay in a Richmond Hospital, Bill went back to Laurens County with the Captain. Capt. Yopp recuperated from his injury and went back to join the company by the fall of 1862.

At the bloody siege of Fredericksburg, Captain Yopp fell when a shell burst over him. Again Bill was there coming to the aid of his friend. Captain Yopp recovered during the winter. The company saw Stonewall Jackson being carried off to a field hospital at the Battle of Chancellorsville. Bill witnessed the pure carnage of Gettysburg from the company's position on Seminary Ridge. The Blackshear Guards missed most of the fighting those three days in July, 1863.

On August 31, 1863 Capt. Yopp cashiered, or bought out his commission. He returned to the ranks as a private until April 2, 1864. Captain Yopp then transferred to the Confederate Navy on board the cruiser "Patrick Henry." Bill was not allowed to go with Thomas Yopp.

By some accounts Bill returned home until the close of the war. By others, he was present at Gen. Lee's surrender at Appomattox. In May of 1865, he learned of Captain Yopp's return home. He left just in time to see the wagon train of Confederate President Jefferson Davis in his attempted escape through Laurens County. Times were hard - for people of both races. Bill worked as a share cropper until 1870. Bill went to Macon taking a job as a bell boy at the Brown House. There he became acquainted with many of the influential men of Georgia. Bill accompanied the owner of the hotel back home to Connecticut. After his duties were finished Bill was given train fare to return home. Bill became fascinated with New York City and worked there for a short time. In 1873 Bill returned home for a short time before taking a position with the Charleston and Savannah Railroad. Bill fell ill with yellow fever and returned home to recuperate and spend some time with Captain Yopp.

Bill returned to New York where he worked as a porter in an Albany Hotel. There he again met the influential men of the state. He briefly served a family in California. In his travels, Bill visited the capitals of Europe. He worked for ten years as a porter in the private car of the president of Delaware and Hudson Railroad. Bill then worked for the United States Navy aboard the "Collier Brutus". His travels amounted to a trip around the world.

Bill then realized that old age had crept upon him. He returned home. He shortly found his friend Captain Yopp in poverty. Captain Yopp was about to enter the Confederate Soldier's Home in Atlanta. Bill took a job on the Central of Georgia Railroad. During World War I, Bill was given a place to live at Camp Wheeler near Macon. He made regular visits to the Soldier's Home providing Captain Yopp with some of his money along with fruits and other treats. Bill won the admiration of the officers at Camp Wheeler, who presented him with a gold watch upon his departure.

Bill's generosity toward Capt. Yopp soon spread to all of the soldiers in the home. He enlisted the help of the editor of " The Macon Telegraph " for aid in a fund raising campaign. Bill and his friends were able to raise funds for each veteran at Christmas time. The campaign became more successful every year. " The Dublin Courier Herald" contributed to the campaign in 1919 when the amount given to each veteran was three dollars. Bill took time at each Christmas to speak to the veterans in the chapel of the home. The veterans were so impressed they presented him a medal in March of 1920. Bill had a book published about his life. The books were sold with the proceeds going to the soldiers in the home.

By this time, Capt. Yopp was failing. The Board of Trustees voted to allow Bill a permanent place at the home. Bill stayed at his friend's side, just as he had done in the muddy trenches of Virginia nearly sixty years before. Captain Yopp died on the morning of January 23rd, 1920. Bill, now in his eighties, gave the funeral address. He reminisced about the good times and his affection for his friend.

Bill was a popular member of the Atlanta Camp No. 159 of the United Confederate Veterans, who held their meetings every third Monday at the capitol. Bill died sometime after the 1933 reunion. He was buried with his fellow soldiers at the Confederate Cemetery in Marietta, Georgia. After the body of Amos Rucker was disinterred to be laid next to the body of his wife, Bill became the lone African - American soldier of the Confederate Army to lie in the cemetery. His gravestone provided by the State of Georgia reads:


SOURCE MATERIAL: History of Bill Yopp, R. de T. Lawrence, Atlanta, Ga., 1920; The Forgotten Confederates, by Charles Lunsford, "The Confederate Veteran," Nov./Dec., 1992, pp. 12 - 15, Dublin Courier Herald, January 27, 1920, p. 4.



Eighth Annual Reunion at Independence on August 25-26,1905

Miami Weekly News of Miami, Missouri, September 01, 1905. Note that even the notorious Quantrill's Guerrillas had a Black member, who was honored at a veterans reunion along with the rest of his comrades..

"The following is an account of the Eighth Annual Reunion at Independence on August 25-26,1905 :Among those registered Friday morning were Captain Ben Morrow of Lake City, Lieutenant Lee Miller of Knobnoster, Hi George of Grain Valley, Sylvester Akers of Levasy, William Greer of Lexington, John A. Workman of Wellington,George (Jim) Holand of Kansas City (this the Negro spy Quantrill sent to Lawrence), A.J. Liddil of Independence ( the man Wood Hite tried to kill), J.M. Campbell of Lee's Summit, Levi Potts of Grain Valley, Henry Frazier of Mount Washington, D. Hughes of Hughes, Ark.; Tyler Burris (or Burns) of Mount Washington, D.S. Lane of Armourdale, William Gaugh of Jackson County and J.C. Ervin of Marshal, Mo. These visitors are given badges of bright red ribbon on which are pinned a medallion portrait of Quantrell (sic). Underneath are the words : ' Eighth Annual Reunion of Quantrill's Guerrillas, Independence, MO., August 25 and 26,1905..."

Gen. R. E. Lee's Opinions on Recruitment of Black Southerners

Gen. R. E. Lee's opinions on recruitment of Black Southerners for the Confederate Army. The following messages written by Lee's Assistant Adjutant General and expressed his official position on the proposal for mass-enlisting Black Southerners into the Confederate Army. The original letters are located in the Richards S. Ewell Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress:

Hd Qs CS Armies
27th March 1865
Lt Gen RS Ewell, Commdg General,

General Lee directs me to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 25th inst: and to say that he much regrets the unwillingness of owners to permit their slaves to enter the service. If the state authorities can do nothing to get those negroes who are willing to join the army, but whose masters refuse their consent, there is no authority to do it at all. What benefit they expect their negroes to be to them, if the enemy occupies the country, it is impossible to say. He hopes you will endeavor to get the assistance of citizens who favor the measure, and bring every influence you can to bear. When a negro is willing, and his master objects, there would be less objection to compulsion, if the state has the authority. It is however of primary importance that the negroes should know that the service is voluntary on their part. As to the name of the troops, the general thinks you cannot do better than consult the men themselves. His only objection to calling them colored troops was that the enemy had selected that designation for theirs. But this has no weight against the choice of the troops and he recommends that they be called colored or if they prefer, they can be called simply Confederate troops or volunteers. Everything should be done to impress them with the responsibility and character of their position, and while of course due respect and subordination should be exacted, they should be so treated as to feel that their obligations are those of any other soldier and their rights and privileges dependent in law & order as obligations upon others as upon theirselves. Harshness and contemptuous or offensive language or conduct to them must be forbidden and they should be made to forget as soon as possible that they were regarded as menials. You will readily understand however how to conciliate their good will & elevate the tone and character of the men....

Very respy.
Your obt. servt.
Charles Marshall
Lt. Col & AAG


Hd. Qts. CS Armies
30th March 1865
Lt Gen RS Ewell, Commdg General,

General Lee directs me to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 29th inst: and to say that he regrets very much to learn that owners refuse to allow their slaves to enlist. He deems it of great moment that some of this force should be put in the field as soon as possible, believing that they will remove all doubts as to the expediency of the measure. He regrets it the more in the case of the owners about Richmond, inasmuch as the example would be extremely valuable, and the present posture of military affairs renders it almost certain that if we do not get these men, they will soon be in arms against us, and perhaps relieving white Federal soldiers from guard duty in Richmond. He desires you to press this view upon the owners.

He says that he regards it as very important that immediate steps be taken to put the recruiting in operation, and has so advised the department. He desires to have you placed in general charge of it, if agreeable to you, as he thinks nothing can be accomplished without energetic and intelligent effort by someone who fully appreciates the vital importance of the duty....

Very respy
Your obt servt
Charles Marshall
Lt col & AAG

  • 1865

Battle of Seven Pines

At the Battle of Seven Pines, or Fair Oaks, near Richmond (May 31 and June 1, 1862), a black cook and minister named Pomp who was serving with an Alabama regiment got excited, picked up a rifle and went into the battle. He was heard yelling at his regiment, "Der Lor' hab mercy on us all, boys, here dey comes agin! Dar it is," he shouted, as the Yankees fired over their heads, "just as I taught! Can't shoot worth a bad five-cent piece. Now's de time, boys!" As the Alabamians returned with a withering fire and mounted a furious charge, the black minister was heard shouting, "Pitch in, white folks- Uncle Pomp's behind yer. Send all de Yankees to de 'ternal flames, whar dere's weeping and gnashing of-sail in Alabama; stick 'em wid de bayonet, and send all de blue ornery cusses to de state of eternal fire and brimstone!"

Battlefields of the South. Vol. 2, page 253

  • 1862

Black Confederates and Afro-Yankees in Civil War Virginia

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

Black Confederates and Afro-Yankees in Civil War Virginia, Ervin L. Jordan, Jr., (Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia, 1995) pp. 218-219

  • 1861

"Calico, Black and Gray: Women and Blacks in the Confederacy."

To quote Dr. Lewis Steiner, Chief Inspector of the United States Sanitary Commission while observing Gen. "Stonewall" Jackson's occupation of Frederick, Maryland, in 1862:

"Wednesday, September 10: At 4 o'clock this morning the Rebel army began to move from our town, Jackson's force taking the advance. The movement continued until 8 o'clock P.M., occupying 16 hours. The most liberal calculation could not give them more than 64,000 men. Over 3,000 Negroes must be included in the number. . . . They had arms, rifles, muskets, sabers, bowie-knives, dirks, etc. They were supplied, in many instances, with knapsacks, haversacks, canteens, etc., and they were manifestly an integral portion of the Southern Confederacy army. They were seen riding on horses and mules, driving wagons, riding on caissons, in ambulances, with the staff of generals and promiscuously mixed up with all the Rebel horde."

Edward C. Smith, CIVIL WAR MAGAZINE, vol. VIII, No. 3, Issue XXIII, pg. 14:

  • 1862

North Carolina Troops

Notice that these blacks were paroled and exchanged just as white soldiers would have been.

It should be noted that most if not all captured Confederates were offered the opportunity to sign the Oath of Allegiance. Notice that none of them did except the fourth man listed, Daniel Herring. And even he didn't agree to sign it until more than two months Lee's surrender!)

"When Fort Fisher fell to the Union troops in January, 1865, the following blacks are recorded as being among the captured Confederates:

Charles Dempsey, Private, Company F, 36th NC Regiment (2nd NC Artillery), Negro. Captured at Fort Fisher January 15, 1865 and confined at Point Lookout, MD, until paroled and exchanged at Coxes Landing, James River, VA, February 14-15, 1865.

Henry Dempsey, Private, Company F, 36th NC Regiment (2nd NC Artillery), Negro. Captured at Fort Fisher January 15, 1865 and confined at Point Lookout, MD, until paroled and exchanged at Coxes Landing, James River, VA, February 14-15, 1865.

J. Doyle, Private, Company E, 40th NC Regiment (3rd NC Artillery), Negro. Captured at Fort Fisher January 15, 1865 and confined at Point Lookout, MD, until paroled and exchanged at Boulware's Wharf, James River, VA, March 16, 1865.

Daniel Herring, Cook, Company F, 36th NC Regiment (2nd NC Artillery), Negro. Captured at Fort Fisher January 15, 1865 and confined at Point Lookout, MD, until released after taking Oath of Allegiance June 19, 1865 (he was held prisoner for two months AFTER the official surrender)."

North Carolina Troops, Volume I:

  • 1865

Monuments Honor the Blacks who Wore Gray

Agnes Corbett always knew that her hometown of Camden (South Carolina) had once had its share of Confederate soldiers. What she didn't know was that some of them were black.

Corbett, the director of the Camden Archives, learned about the town's African American veterans when her organization decided to survey the names of everyone who fought in the Civil War. When she learned of a tombstone at an African American church that had a Confederate States of America seal on it, she was amazed.

"That is a part of our history that has not been brought to the surface. Nobody has researched it." Corbett said, "We didn't even know about it until we did the survey."

Memorials to African-Americans who served in the Confederacy are rare, but not unheard of. Though the debate rages on about the Confederate battle flag atop the statehouse in Columbia and the Confederate monument in Walterboro, many people haven't learned about the role that southern African-Americans played in the Civil War.

At least two black Confederate monuments exist in South Carolina, and several others can be found in other states.

One monument in Darlington is dedicated to Henry Dad Brown, a drummer for the Confederate troops who, according to Darlington resident and historian Horace Rudisel, was not allowed to carry a firearm because of his race. Brown was able to draw a Confederate pension after the war, however, and was said to be highly respected in town because he had served. The monument was erected shortly after Brown's death in 1907.

Rudisel said that the monument used to be kept up by local black teachers until the county offered to maintain it.

Darlington County also had 10 to 20 other black men who were body servants, or valets, to soldiers and who also drew CSA pensions. The Darlington Historical Society is trying to determine the burial sites of those men so they can erect a monument honoring them.

Another African-American Confederate monument was erected in 1895 in Fort Mill (South Carolina). That monument is dedicated to the Confederate slaves who helped protect and defend the women and children left alone during the war.

The granite obelisk has carvings of African-Americans on its sides along with the names of roughly 15 slaves. Two other monuments, one dedicated to the women and children and a third for the Catawba Indians who fought for the Confederacy, stand on the same site.

William J. Bradford, the unofficial but widely respected town historian and former editor of the Fort Mill Times, said that even locally it has been underappreciated. Since the monument belongs to the people of Fort Mill and not the county, funds aren't available to keep it in top condition.

"We have always felt that it should receive more attention than it has," Bradford said. "It hasn't been vandalized, but it hasn't been kept up. None of them have been preserved as they should have been."

A monument that honors a black Confederate soldier killed in battle also exists in Canton, Mississippi.

Efforts to bring to light the African-American's role in the Civil War continue - and from some unlikely sources. Several chapters of the Sons of Confederate Veterans are trying to identify blacks who fought in the war. Terrell's Texas Cavalry, 34th Regiment, a Confederate reenactment group with members in several states, is raising funds for a monument to Confederate soldiers of color. They plan to erect the monument in Richmond, Virginia, where the White House of the Confederacy still stands.

According to John Danylchuk, captain of the 34th Texas Cavalry unit in Killeen, Texas, some reenactors have trouble believing that there were black and Hispanic soldiers in the Confederate Army.

Danylchuk recalled one incident in which his unit was asked to reenact a battle for a television miniseries. After he and two other men - one of whom was black - went to meet with the casting director, Danylchuk got a strange phone call.

"(The director) said, 'Yeah, we'd like to have all you guys - but not the black guy,'" Danylchuk recalled.

When asked if he knew why that happened, he said, "I know why. They don't want to see black people wearing gray."

Many historians agree that African-Americans did play a role in the Confederate Army. According to the Appomattox Courthouse National Historic Site, 36 black Confederates were among those who surrendered to the Union army at Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia on April 9, 1865. Most were teamsters, guards, cooks or musicians.

Historians estimate the total number of black men who sided with the Confederates either as laborers or soldiers range anywhere from 60,000 to 90,000.

James Eaton, a professor at Florida A&M University who studied black Confederates, explained why those men might have joined the cause. He said that one reason many of them did so because they were afraid their live would be more difficult if they didn't.

"Some of them were promised their freedom if they fought. Others went out of loyalty for their masters, and stayed with them in times of trouble." Eaton said.

"Black men did fight on both sides," he continued. "There's been a whole lot of credible work done about the side of the Union, but they have not given any scholarly research to the Confederate side."

Lisa Hofbauer, Staff Writer - Published February 2, 1997

Black Confederates Gaining Recognition

story image(s)

OCEAN SPRINGS -- A monument was dedicated last year in Washington, D.C., to the memory of the African-Americans who fought in Union service during the Civil War.

Since then, a local freelance writer has become involved in an effort to erect a similar monument to the thousands of blacks who served the Confederacy.

"It's hidden history," Michael Kelley of Pascagoula said. His research shows there were more than 65,000 blacks, 15,000 Hispanics and 3,000 Native Americans among the Confederate troops. But little recognition is given to these facts, he said.

"I've talked to a lot of black Mississippians," he said. "Most know of black Confederate service and I have not talked to one who is not proud of it and they are angry that it is not recognized."

Kelley, who is white, has heard stories about his ancestors' lives in Civil War Virginia since childhood.' "I was raised in the Old Southern tradition. A person's color meant nothing, you took everyone as an individual," he said.

A syndicated newspaper column he read last year strengthened the Civil War stories he had heard. The author, Walter E. Williams, an economics professor at George Mason University, wrote about "... numerous accounts of blacks serving as fighting men or servants in every battle from Gettysburg to Vicksburg."

"They were not all necessarily in combat. They were hospital stewards, runners and longshoremen also," Kelley said.

"We're not just talking about servants and slaves; we're talking about friends and, in some cases, relatives. They were not segregated like Northern troops."

He has uncovered stories of officers who had brought their servants with them when they enlisted. When one major was wounded, his young servant, a freeman, brought the officer home before returning to the battle.

In another case, a young Confederate captain was killed at Gettysburg. His servant sold the officer's equipment to buy a buggy and carried the body for 600 miles so that the youth's parents could bury him. "Then he returned to combat," Kelley said of the servant. "He could have just walked away."

"It was honorable service. They were fighting for what they believed in. They were fighting for their homes and people," Kelley said.

For some black veterans, it was difficult to prove Confederate service because many records that mention them were destroyed. But thousands received Confederate pensions upon the statements of their commanding officers.

"It is very honorable of Mr. Kelley to do this and we would assist him and encourage him," Aniece Liddell, president of the Jackson County NAACP, said. "History books do not tell the whole story and we're just hearing about this."

She said the reason that February is set aside as Black History Month is to bring out these forgotten stories. "Books are being rewritten now and these stories are now being told."

While searching the Internet, Kelley learned about a racially-mixed Civil War re-enactors group based in Austin, Texas, - Terrell's Texas Cavalry 34th Regiment, CSA. Kelley has since become the unit's second lieutenant and commander of the dismounted unit.

One of the goals of the unit is to educate others about the multi-racial makeup of the Confederate Armed Forces through authentic re-enactment.

Terrell's Texas Cavalry was ordered into service in June 1863 under the command of Lt. Col. Alexander Watkins Terrell. "Unit rosters showed the 34th to be of multi-racial makeup including white, black, brown and red men," he said.

They plan in the future to launch a design competition for a monument dedicated to the black Confederates and push for the sculpture to be located on Richmond's Monument Avenue.

"I think it's a fine idea," Sons of Confederate Veterans officer Keith Hardison said. "It's a role many people do not know anything about and others choose to ignore it."

Hardison is curator of the Beauvoir Shrine and serves as adjutant in chief of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV). Hardison said the concept of a national monument was discussed recently by Ed Smith, a professor at American University in Washington, D.C., who spoke to SCV members at the Lee-Jackson Banquet.

Various state and local monuments have been erected on this theme and one of the panels of the Confederate Monument at Arlington National Cemetery features a black soldier, he said. The Harvey Scout Monument in Canton, Miss., is also dedicated to the memory of an African-American Confederate soldier.

Hardison said records of the last reunion of the United Confederate Veterans held in 1930 at the White House Hotel in Biloxi show that several African-American veterans attended.

The ancestry of members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans represents a cross section of America in most states, he said. Those of Native American, Hispanic and European descent are members along with Anglo-Americans, Hardison said.

Kelley said this ethnic diversity is part of Southern history and will be a facet which will be emphasized in the proposed monument.

"The South has a real cultural legacy and the monument must relate to the people of the South," he said.

Whatever their ethnic heritage, he said, "The South is a collection of people who share a love for a land."

By Regina Hines, West Jackson County Bureau Chief

Black Confederate Jason Boone Honored In Suffolk


On a gentle knoll surrounded by the woods and cotton fields of Skeetertown on Saturday, the allegiance and honor of a humble Suffolk farmer was compared to that of Civil War General Robert E. Lee.

''I believe that Jason Boone gave his service to this cause because he loved his home and loved his neighbors,'' said F. Lee Hart IV, commander of the Tom Smith Camp, Sons of Confederate Veterans. ''He saw this war as an attack on his home, and, like Robert E. Lee, he refused to raise his sword against his state.''

Boone was a landowner, twice married, father of 30 children. For three years, beginning in 1862, he served in the 41st Virginia Infantry, Company K, Confederate States of America. He was considered a specialist in the building of breastworks - a defensive low wall used in battle - or trenches.

In 1924, at the age of 93, he was granted a pension of $ 6 a month, which he received until his death at 105.

Boone was a free-born black, and for what is thought to be the first time for a black Confederate soldier in Virginia, he was honored on this autumn day with a ceremony and a memorial for his courage.

Boone's great-granddaughter, Katheryne B. Hamilton, who was born in Suffolk and now lives in Portsmouth, brought the event together.

But not without some misgivings, she said.

''When I first started thinking about it, some of my family members said, 'Definitely not,' '' Hamilton said. ''But I have always been so proud of Jason Boone. He was independent. He was a landowner. He was the father of 30 children, married to the mothers of them all. He worked hard and raised those children.''

And, when the Civil War broke out in April 1861, Boone was living on his farm in Skeetertown, a mixed neighborhood of free blacks and white landowners. Boone's farm remained in family hands until 1981.

''When his neighbors were going to war, these were men he hunted with, fished with, worked with,'' she said. ''I believe he did what he felt he had to do. What do I have not to be proud of?''

Hamilton was searching for her family roots more than a year ago when she read a newspaper article about Hart's efforts to preserve Suffolk's historic Cedar Hill Cemetery. She called to tell him that her great-grandfather served with the South.

''He asked me if my great-grandfather had a headstone,'' Hamilton said. ''At that time, I didn't even know where he was buried.''

When she found his grave in Landa Cemetery, near the Suffolk Airport, she contacted Hart again, and that's when he offered a monument for her grandfather's grave.

After months of preparation, about 100 people - blacks as well as whites, all with a shared heritage - came together to honor a soldier of the Confederacy.

''I am a historian, and today, history is being made,'' said Edward C. Smith, a history professor at American University in Washington, who spoke at the ceremony. ''I can't imagine the times that this man heard, 'Jason, you're fighting on the wrong side.' Why would a black Southerner, especially a Virginian, fight for the Confederacy?''

Smith has made black history in America his lifelong work and has written several books on the subject. Slavery, he said, was an important part of the Civil War, but it did not start it. Slavery, in fact, was not abolished in the nation's capital until April 1862, a year after the war started.

''History is not what we want the past to be,'' he said. ''History is what the past was. We read into the past prejudices of the present. Why would Mr. Boone fight for the South? He was a Southern patriot.''

Smith called Saturday's event the fulfillment of the dream that Martin Luther King Jr. longed for.

''You see it, right here, today,'' he said. And he called Hamilton a hero in her own right.

''I never thought I would see this,'' he said, after a cannon salute to Boone and after ''Taps'' was played. ''It's not that blacks today don't know this part of their history, but they don't respect it. Mrs. Hamilton has turned a corner.''

Boone, Hamilton said, was descended from Joe Skeeter, an English land surveyor who settled Skeetertown, near the Dismal Swamp. Apparently Skeeter had two interracial marriages. His daughter, Patsy, was Jason's mother.

Hamilton said that, today, Skeeter's descendants live both as black and white. ''I'm black, and I'm proud of it,'' she said. ''But I don't think I'm African. How often do any of us see a real African today? I'm an American, and I think it's time that we all begin to take pride in our American heritage.''

Wiping tears from her eyes on Saturday, with many members of her family sitting before her, Hamilton said that she felt Jason Boone was there with them, and he would have been proud, too.

And in another history-making gesture, the Sons of Confederate Veterans presented the Confederate flag - the flag that has stirred such controversy in recent months from both a political and racial standpoint - the flag that had been laying throughout the ceremonies across Jason Boone's grave - to his family.

And it was accepted

Appeared Sunday, October 24, 1999
By Linda McNatt

Georgia's Black Confederates

story image(s)
3 images

If we could bring back to life the man pictured to the right, Confederate Brigadier General Edward L. Thomas, we could find out exactly what roles Blacks played in the Confederate Army.  Two of the Black men pictured above served in the 14th Georgia that he commanded. 

Near the end of the War General Thomas' men voted to petition their government to enlist Blacks in the Army to fight beside them. General Thomas forwarded this petition to his superiors. The Confederate Congress passed, and Confederate President Jefferson Davis signed, a bill authorizing the enlistment of Blacks.

Picture 2 is one of Charles Hicks, Co. F, 14th Georgia, taken at the 1938 reunion held at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Picture 3 is of Jeff Shields, who was Stonewall Jackson's cook.

Laurens County sent Jeremiah Yopp and Dr. Nathan Tucker, two of the county's largest slaveholders, as delegates to the Secession Convention in 1861. Dr. Tucker voted no on the issue of secession, thereby giving the county a split delegation. Ashley Vickers, a wealthy and influential planter, wrote to President Andrew Johnson stating that he was against secession and tried to convince all of his friends to remain with the Union. Many of the neighboring counties to the east voted against leaving the Union. Laurens County furnished nearly seven hundred men to the armies of the 14th, 49th, 57th, and 63rd Georgia Infantry Regiments of the Confederate States Army and several companies of the Georgia Militia and Reserves.

Laurens countians fought in all of the major battles of the war with the Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of the Tennessee. Seven sons of Eason and Eliza Weaver Green enlisted in the Southern Army. Whiteford S. Ramsay and C.S. Guyton of Dublin were appointed Colonels in the Confederate Army. Col. Ramsay was appointed a Lt. Colonel a month after his 22nd birthday, making him one of the youngest colonels in the Confederate army. Dublin lawyer, Capt. Young Anderson, served as Quartermaster of the famed Cobb's Legion. Bill Yopp, a former slave, served as a private in Co. H. of the 14th Georgia. He earned the nick-name of "Ten Cent Bill" when he was doing chores for his fellow soldiers. Private Yopp is the only African-American Confederate soldier buried in the National Cemetery in Marietta, Georgia. Sgt. Daniel Mason of Laurens County was the first to fall. Mason was wounded in the first battle of the war at Manassas and died several weeks later. Elijah Curl, a Laurens County private in the 49th Georgia, was given some credit for firing the shot that killed Gen. Phillip Kearney, the highest ranking Union officer killed in the Civil War. A few Laurens Countians were members of the 48th Georgia Infantry which assaulted and overran Federal positions on Cemetery Ridge on July 2, 1863, at Gettysburg the day before Gen. Pickett's failed charge marked the "high water mark of the Confederacy." A small commissary was established by the Confederate Government at Laurens Hill on the Cochran Road near Dudley and Montrose. Future Dubliner Alex Moffett served in the Macon Volunteers with Georgia's most famous poet, Sidney Lanier. In the early months of 1864, Laurens Countians serving in the 57th Ga. Infantry, were assigned as guards at Andersonville Prison.

Laurens County itself avoided the war for the most part. General Joseph Wheeler, C.S.A., led his four thousand cavalrymen in a river crossing at Blackshear's Ferry in November of 1864 in an attempt to flank the right wing of Gen. Sherman's army. Gen. Samuel Ferguson and his Mississippi Cavalry spent a few days in Laurens County protecting against an anticipated mission by Sherman's forces to capture Andersonville prison. The closest battle to Laurens County occurred at Ball's Ferry near where Georgia Highway 57 crosses the Oconee River in Wilkinson County in late November of 1864. Sherman's right wing was delayed for a few days by military cadets, prisoners and their guards, and the local Washington County militia. Legend has it that Major James B. Duggan and an elderly lady tricked a Union cavalry unit into thinking that they were Wheeler's Cavalry. Their actions at the Lightwood Knot Bridge on the Toomsboro Road saved Chappell's, then Stanley's Mill, from destruction by the "Yankees." Chappell's Mill still stands in the northern part of the county. The mill was recently closed after nearly 180 years of operation.

In the days following General Lee's surrender at Appomattox, Laurens Countians wondered what the future held for them. Future Dubliner Louise Kohn Baum attended the play "Our American Cousin" and witnessed the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Little did the Laurens Countians know they would be witnesses to history within a month. Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy, left Richmond before it fell. Davis traveled south in an attempt to escape to England or Texas. On May 6, 1865, Davis and his escorts reached Sandersville. His family and the members of the Confederate Cabinet were traveling in a wagon train on a separate route. At Ball's Ferry in Wilkinson County, Davis learned of a plot to rob the train. Davis traveled down the river road frantically looking for his family. They met at Springfield, the home of E.J. Blackshear, son of Gen. Blackshear. After a short rest and breakfast, the wagon train crossed the Oconee at dawn. Davis moved down the east bank of the river crossing at Dublin. Confederate Postmaster General John Reagan stopped the train in front of F.H. Rowe's store on the courthouse square. Rowe, a native of Connecticut and a loyal southerner, directed the Confederates along the Telfair Road. Davis spent that night at the southern tip of Laurens County between the forks of Alligator Creek. That same night the Wisconsin Cavalry reached Blackshear's Ferry. Col. Harnden was sent east from Macon in hopes of picking up Davis' trail. Col. Harnden was informed by former slaves of a small wagon train crossing the ferry earlier in the morning and that one of the men was called "Mr. President." When the cavalry arrived in Dublin, they were misdirected by Rowe, who sent them down the River Road east of the Telfair Road. Had the cavalry been sent a day earlier, Davis would have been captured in Laurens County. A day or two later, Davis might have escaped capture entirely. Davis and his party were captured two days later in Irwinville, Georgia. Gen. John C. Breckinridge, a former Vice - President of the United States, and Judah P. Benjamin, Secretary of State of the Confederacy, were right behind Davis and his party. Both men barely avoided capture in Laurens County and escaped to England. John Davis, the presidential carriage driver, returned to Laurens County to marry Della Conway, whom he met while he was in Dublin. The Davises lived here for the rest of the 19th century.

The Reconstruction period was a difficult time for Laurens countians. Nearly half of the soldiers were killed, wounded, or captured during the war. One of those wounded men was Col. Jonathan Rivers. Col. Rivers, a Wilkinson County attorney and former Judge of the Court of Ordinary of that county, moved to Dublin in 1866. Col. Rivers, commanding officer of the 49th Ga. Infantry, survived two amputations. Rivers practiced law in Dublin from 1866 to 1873. Col. William H. Wylly, former Lt. Colonel of the 25th Georgia Infantry, C.S.A., practiced law in Dublin for a brief period in the latter part of the 1870s. Those who survived came back to a home which would never be the same.

Riverboat Captain W.W. Ward, was the first Laurens Countian to volunteer for service in the Spanish American War. Dubliner William Little, a member of the 9th U.S. Cavalry, followed Col. Teddy Roosevelt up San Juan Hill in the Spanish-American War. Following the war, Private Little served as an orderly for Arthur McArthur, Governor-General of the Philippines and father of Gen. Douglas McArthur.

Dublin and Laurens County furnished nearly 1100 men to the armed forces in World War I. Dubliners and Laurens Countians raised tremendous sums of money through bond sales. Corporal Walter A. Warren, of Dexter, was the second American aviator to be wounded in France. Many of Laurens' citizens, including its most prominent physicians, served in the military. Early Miller was the first to be drafted. Even Dublin's mayor, Peter S. Twitty, enlisted in the U.S. Army. Twitty's successor, Izzie Bashinski, donated his salary to the Red Cross. Cecil Preston Perry became the first Laurens Countian to die in action in the summer of 1918. James Mason was the first Dubliner to die in action. He died in France on July 29, 1918. James L. Weddington, Jr., of the 6th Marine Corps Regiment was awarded the French Croix de Guerre on July 10, 1918 for his heroism in carrying many wounded men off the battle field to field hospitals for several hours, risking his own safety in the process. Lt. Col. Pat Stevens was awarded the Belgian Croix de Guerre for extraordinary heroism in action south of Spitaal Bosschen, Belgium, on October 31, 1918. Lt. Ossie F. Keen was awarded the Silver Star. Thousands more of Laurens County's finest young men went "over there" for Uncle Sam. Fortunately, the war was relatively short and only fifty Laurens County men lost their lives. After the war, the Dublin Guards, a state militia unit, re-organized as Co. A. of the 1st Battalion of the Georgia National Guard. The unit which is still active today was the first National Guard unit in the southeastern United States. The company's first captain, Lewis C. Pope of Dublin, served as Adjutant General of the Georgia National Guard in the 1920's. World War I's biggest hero, Sgt. Alvin York, spoke to a large crowd at the First Methodist Church in the early 1920s.

Dublin and Laurens County once again stepped forward and sent thousands of young men into military service during World War II. Scores of Laurens County boys joined the National Guard which was attached to the 121st U.S. Infantry division. The Guard mobilized in September of 1940 into Federal service. Alta Mae Hammock and Brancy Horne were the first women to join the W.A.A.C.. Marayan Smith Harris was the first woman to join the WAVES. Several Laurens Countians were at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Marjorie Hobbs Wilson and her husband were eyewitnesses to the bombing.

Alton Hyram Scarborough of the D.H.S. Class of '37 was the first of one hundred and nine casualties of the war. Robert Werden, Jr., loved to fly and was so anxious to fly planes in World War II that he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force. When the United States declared war, he joined the Army Air Force, only to be shot down and killed in the early years of the war. Capt. Bobbie E. Brown of Laurens County was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroism in the assault on Crucifix Hill in Aachen, Germany. Capt. Brown, a career non- commissioned officer, personally led the attack on German positions, killing over one hundred Germans and being wounded three times during the battle. Capt. Brown was the first Georgian ever to be awarded the Medal of Honor, along with eight Purple Hearts and two Silver Stars. At the end of the war, Captain Brown was the oldest company commander in the United States Army and first of length of service. Paratrooper Kelso Horne was pictured on the cover of Life during the invasion of Normandy. Aviator Wex Jordan, an all Southeastern Guard for Georgia Tech in 1941, was killed in an air accident while training in San Diego. Randall Robertson and James Hutchinson, both only a year or so out of Dublin High School, were found lying dead near each other on the beaches of Iwo Jima in 1945. Robert Colter, Jr., who had been teaching Vocational-Agricultural classes at Cadwell High School was killed on February 20, 1945 in Germany. Captain Henry Will Jones, the Vocational - Agricultural teacher and football coach at Dexter High School and a paratrooper, was killed in the South Pacific in October, 1944. Lt. Lucian B. Shuler, a former Cadwell High School basketball coach, was an ace, having shot down seven Japanese planes in combat. Captain Shuler was awarded eleven Distinguished Flying Crosses and twelve Air Medals. Cpt. William A. Kelly, a former Dublin High School coach, was flying the ADauntless Dotty@ when it crashed into the sea in the summer of 1945. The B-29 Superfortress was the first B-29 to bomb Tokyo. Hubert Wilkes and Jack Thigpen survived the fatal attack on the AU.S.S. Yorktown@ at the Battle of Midway. Tech. Sgt. Luther Word was awarded the Silver Star, the nation=s third highest award for heroism, just prior to his being killed in action.

Commander Robert Braddy was awarded the Navy Cross, our nation=s second highest honor for naval heroism, for his actions in North Africa in November of 1942. Rear Admiral Braddy retired from the service in 1951. Captain William C. Thompson was awarded a Silver Star, two Gold Stars, a Navy Cross, and a Bronze Star for his outstanding naval submarine service. Captain Thompson was the executive officer aboard the submarine "Bowfin," which was credited with sinking the second highest Japanese tonnage on a single war patrol. Both men are buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Captain Thompson=s first cousin, Sgt. Lester Porter of Dublin, led the first invading forces over the Danube River in nearly two millennia. Capt. John Barnett, a twenty-one year old Dubliner, was credited with being the youngest executive officer in the United States Army in 1944. Lt. Arlie W. Claxton won the Distinguished Flying Cross in 1943. Marine Corporal James W. Bedingfield, of Cadwell, was awarded a Silver Star by Admiral Chester Nimitz for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the Japanese at Namur Island, Kwajalein Atoll, on February 6, 1944. His kinsman, Capt. Walter H. Bedingfield, was awarded a Silver Star for heroism in setting up a field hospital in advance of American lines at Normandy on D-Day. T. Sgt. Thurman W. Wyatt was awarded a Silver Star for heroism when he assumed command of his tank platoon following the wounding of the commander and guided it to safety. Lt. Colonel James D. Barnett, Col. Charles Lifsey, Col. George T. Powers, III, and Lt. Colonel J.R. Laney, former residents of Dublin and graduates of West Point, were cited for their actions in India and Europe. Captain Alvin A. Warren, Jr., of Cadwell, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for flying 70 missions in the Indo-China Theater night and day through impassable mountain ranges and high clouds. For his battle wounds and other feats of courage and bravery, Lt. Clifford Jernigan was awarded the Purple Heart, an Air Medal, and three Oak Leaf clusters in 1944. Lt. Garrett Jones was a highly decorated pilot who participated in the first daylight bombings of Germany. Calvert Hinton Arnold was promoted to Brigadier General in 1945. Lt. Col. Ezekiel W. Napier of Laurens County, a graduate of West Point, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and retired from the Air Force in 1959 as a Brigadier General. The "Pilot's Pilot," Bud Barron of Dublin, was credited with the second most number of air miles during the war, mainly by ferrying aircraft to and from the front lines. James Adams, Morton C. Mason, Wilkins Smith, Russell M. Daley, Gerald Anderson, Marshall Jones, Robert L. Horton, Loyest B. Chance, William L. Padgett, Joseph E. Joiner, W.B. Tarpley, Owen Collins, Loy Jones, Thurston Veal, James B. Bryan, and Cecil Wilkes were surviving in P.O.W. camps in Germany, while Alton Watson and Alton Jordan were held prisoner by the Japanese. Lt. Peter Fred Larsen, a prisoner of the Japanese army, was killed by American planes when being transported to the Japanese mainland in an unmarked freighter. Future Dubliner Tommy Birdsong was digging coal in a Japanese coal mine when an atomic bomb near Nagasaki was dropped. Earlier he survived the infamous "Bataan Death March." PFC Wesley Hodges was a member of the 38th Mechanized Calvary Recon Squad, the first American squad to enter Paris on August 25, 1944. Seaman James T. Sutton survived the sinking of the AU.S.S. Frederick C. Davis@, the last American ship sunk by the German Navy. The 121st Infantry of the Georgia National Guard, which was headquartered in Dublin until 1938 and of which Company K was located in Dublin, won a Presidential Unit Citation for its outstanding performance of their duty in the Battle of Hurtgen Forest during Thanksgiving, 1944. These are only a few stories of the thousands of Laurens County's heroes of World War II.

Laurens Countians supported the war effort on the home front. A State Guard unit was formed by over-aged and under-aged men. Everyone from school children to grandmothers did their part. Many Laurens Countians commuted to Warner Robins and Macon to work for the war effort. Angelo Catechis bought war bonds with his life's savings to help rescue his family in Greece. The women of Laurens County worked diligently on the home front. The women made bandages, surgical dressings, and sponges, along with knitted garments. Carolyn Hall, blind since birth, was one of the most proficient knitters in the community. In the summer of 1944, the U.S. government honored Laurens County by naming one of the reconditioned "Liberty Ships" the "U.S.S. Laurens."

The resurgence of Laurens County started during the war. Congressman Carl Vinson of Milledgeville secured the location of a German-Italian Prisoner of War Camp at the old fairground site. Prisoners were put to work on local farms, filling a void left in the male farm labor force. Vinson, a powerful member of the Naval Affairs Committee, secured the construction of a naval hospital in western Dublin in 1945. The hospital was designed to treat patients who needed long term care. One of only two rheumatic fever research units in the country was established at the hospital in 1946. The hospital was a tremendous boost to the local economy bringing in several thousand new citizens. The Navy constructed one of Georgia's largest airports for the transportation of patients. For several years Dublin played host to several Army-Navy baseball and football games between the prison guards and the naval hospital personnel. The hospital, now the Carl Vinson V.A. Medical Center, is serving the needs of thousands of American Veterans.

The naval hospital, now a part of the armed forces hospital system, took on the role of aiding the war on the home front. This mission included entertainment and rehabilitation of the patients. On April 7, 1945, Eddie Rickenbacker visited the hospital. Rickenbacker was the American Ace of World War I. He owned the Indianapolis Speedway for 12 years. In 1938 he was named President of Eastern Airlines and served in that position until he was named Chairman of the Board in 1959. Rickenbacker's mission was to cheer up those sailors who were facing long periods of recuperation from their injuries and ailments.

Twelve Laurens County men lost their lives in defense of their country in the Korean War. James E. Rix and James E. Daniel were the first two Laurens Countians to be killed. Sgt. Albert Lewis of Laurens County was starved to death in a Korean P.O.W. camp. Emerson Burns, Wesley Hodges, and Tyrois Odom survived and were welcomed home by one of the Dublin's largest parade crowds. Major Charles L. Holliman, then a lieutenant, treated 700 casualties during the war. Holliman, relying on his experience as a combat medic in World War II, had to perform field surgery. He lost only one man. The Herschel Lovett Bridge replaced the narrow 1920 bridge over the Oconee River in 1953. William C. Dominy of Dublin began his six year term as Commander of the Georgia State Patrol in 1953. In January of 1954, the National Guard returned to Dublin when the 286th Infantry Heavy Mortar Battalion was organized under the command of William V. Crowley, Jr.. An armory building was constructed in 1957 and later named in honor of Major Charles E. Stroberg, the executive officer of the unit. Over the years the armory has hosted all types events including circuses, prom dances, wrestling matches, antique shows, and concerts by the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, Ernest Tubb, and Don Gibson. Airman Bobby Tennyson Robinson was killed by a tornado at Lawson Air Force Base, Columbus, Georgia on March 13, 1954. Airman Robinson remained at his sentry post despite the threats to his own safety.

As was the case in many wars before, Laurens County sent many of its best young men into the armed services during the Vietnam War. U.S. Navy Lieutenant, Charles P. Ragan, was one of the first naval advisors sent to Vietnam in 1963. Lt. Ragan was awarded a Bronze Star for heroism by Pres. Lyndon Johnson. Col. Addison Hogan was awarded the Gallantry Cross with a Silver Star by the South Vietnamese Government for his service in Vietnam in 1963-1964. Sergeant James A. Starley of Dublin was killed by a bomb in Vietnam on February 22, 1965. Sgt. Starley was the first of twenty four Laurens Countians who lost their lives during the war. In the winter of 1966, Lt. Col. Harlow G. Clark, Jr., became the first Laurens Countian to be killed in action. The citizens of Laurens County erected a sign in front of the Dublin-Laurens Museum honoring those men who served in the armed forces during the war. The names of those who died were painted in gold. A dedication ceremony was held on June 30, 1967, in which the families of Bobby Finney and James Cook, the third and fourth men who lost their lives during the war, were special guests. Sgt. Jimmy Bedgood, winner of four Bronze Stars for bravery, two Purple Hearts, and an Army Commendation medal with a "V", was killed in his third tour of duty in 1968. Four Laurens County aviators, Warrant Officer David L. Green, Jr., Lt. W. T. Holmes, Jr., John E. Best, and Captain Wilbur A. Darsey were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal, the Air Medal, and the Army Commendation Medal, respectively, for valor and meritorious service in the early years of the Viet Nam War. Lt. Col. W. Clyde Stinson, Jr., of Dublin, was killed while directing his troops from his helicopter. Stinson, a 1953 graduate of West Point Military Academy, was awarded three Silver Stars, just prior to his death. At the time, Lt. Col. Stinson was one of the highest ranking officers killed in the Vietnam War. Major James F. Wilkes was awarded a Silver Star for piloting his bomber aircraft in between friendly and enemy positions and saving the lives of many American soldiers. Major Wilkes also won two Distinguished Flying Crosses and fifteen Air Medals. Staff Sergeant Charles D. Windham, Jr., was awarded two Bronze Stars for his heroism as a Patrol Leader, one of the most dangerous positions in the field. Chief Warrant Officer Danny Collins was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, two Air Medals, and a Bronze Star. Sgt. Gary Fields, Green Beret, won several medals for his actions as a helicopter gunner. Capt. Fred M. Stuckey was awarded a Silver Star for gallantry in action when he piloted his helicopter into an extremely hazardous area under difficult weather conditions and rescued Amercian soldiers who were pinned down under enemy fire. Lt. Col. Holman Edmond, Jr. in his two tours of duty in Vietnam was awarded 2 Bronze Stars and 17 Air Medals. Billy Bryan, of Dublin, and his fellow M.P.s established Operation Blind Orphan to care for blind and orphaned Vietnamese children. Four sons and one daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J.V. Tipton were serving in the armed forces. These are only a few of the remarkable stories of Laurens County's heroes during the Vietnam War.

Laurens County was saddened by the death of two of her sons, Sgt. Dewey Johnson and Capt. Lynn McIntosh, in the ill-fated attack to rescue the hostages in Iran in April of 1980.

Laurens County was saddened by the death of two of her sons, Sgt. Dewey Johnson and Capt. Lynn McIntosh, in the ill-fated attack to rescue the hostages in Iran in April of 1980.

Louisiana's Black Confederates

story image(s)

When louisiana seceded from the union a regiment of free blacks, called the Native Guard were formed for the defense of New Orleans against Union invasion. Many of these men had fought in the defense of New Orleans during the war of 1812. Once Farragut captured the city, however, these men did not remain with the confederate army, and eventually formed the Corps d'Afrique under General Daniel Ullman.

Late in 1863, General Cleburne and some of his officers drafted a proposal to president Jefferson Davis soliciting the enlistment of southern slaves in return for their freedom. This proposal highlighted a desire on the part of some southerners for independence even without slavery. The proposal was submitted on 1/2/64 and was rejected immediately. However, after additional letters from War secretary Benjamin and General Lee, the Negro Soldier Law was signed on 3/13/65.

The following accounts of Black Confederate soldiers  are from "Louisiana's Free Men of Color in Gray," by Arthur W. Bergeron, Jr. in  Louisianans in the Civil War, Lawrence Lee Hewitt and Arthur W. Bergeron, Jr., Editors, University of Missouri Press, 2002.

"...a number of Louisiana free blacks did serve as soldiers, and their white comrades in arms did know them to be 'free men of color.'"

Free Blacks in Northwestern Louisiana "...lived as white, in almost all respects." They were related to many neighboring White families. They may have feared losing their special status with emancipation.

A Black company was organized in Baton Rouge. One of its members may have been the "huge" Black man a reporter said was one of  "...the most conspicuous of the Rebels" involved in an attack on the 14th Maine Regiment. He was "armed and equipped with knapsack, musket, and uniform" and helped lead the attack. He was killed.

Free blacks in Pointe Coupee Parish also formed a company with White officers. It was still in service in the Spring of 1862.

Free Blacks near Natchitoches also formed a company, some of whose officers were Black. These Cavalrymen furnished their own uniforms, weapons, equipment, and horses.

Some 15 free Blacks volunteered and served in regular Confederate units as privates. There may have been others.

Charles F. Lutz received a Confederate pension in 1900. He enlisted as a White. His mother was a mulatto. Lutz and possibly one other man were the only ones who pretended to be White.

The Daily Delta, December 28, 1860: "...the free colored population (native)...love their home, their property, their own slaves, and they are dearly attached to their native land, and they recognize no other country than Louisiana, and care for no other than Louisiana, and they are ready to shed their blood for her defense. They have no sympathy for Abolitionism; no love for the North, but they have plenty for Louisiana; and let the hour come, and they will be worthy sons of Louisiana. They will fight for her in 186l as they fought in 1814-'15..."

A "Creole" wrote the governor of Louisiana that the free blacks of New Orleans were well educated and included in their ranks artists, physicians, craftsmen, mechanics, and other businessmen. He said few had ever been slaves, and that they appreciated the benefits of slavery.  (Black slaveowners are the subject of Larry Koger's book, Black Slaveowners, Free Black Slave Masters in South Carolina, 1790-1860.)

1,500 men signed up to defend Louisiana on April 21, 1860, and the Daily Picayune asked "What will the Northerners have to say to this?" On May 29 Governor Thomas O. Moore appointed a colonel and lieutenant colonel of the Regiment of Free Men of Color. All the officers were free Blacks. They were called the Native Guards (See picture 6 above.), and their job was to defend New Orleans. When New Orleans fell some of them became members of the 1st Louisiana Native Guards (Union).


Lee's Letter on Slaves as Soldiers

Head Quarters A. N. Va
11th Jany 1865

Hon Andrew Hunter
Richmond, Va

Dear Sir: I have received your letter of the 7th inst; and without confining myself to the order of your interrogatories, will endeavour to answer them by a statement of my views on the subject. I should be most happy, if I can contribute to the solution of a question in which I feel an interest commensurate with my desire for the welfare and happiness of our people. Considering the relation of master and slave, controlled by human laws, and influenced by Christianity and enlightened public sentiment, as the best that can exist between the white & black races, which intermingled as at present in this country, I would deprecate any sudden disturbance of that relation unless it be necessary to avert a greater calamity to both. I should therefore prefer to rely upon our white population to preserve the ratio between our forces and those of the enemy, which experience has shown to be safe. But in view of the preparations of our enemy, it is our duty to provide for continued war, and not for a battle, or a campaign, & I fear we cannot accomplish this without overtaxing the capacity of our white population. Should the war continue under existing circumstances, the enemy may in course of time penetrate our country, and get access to a large part of our negro population. It is his avowed policy to convert the able bodied men among them into soldiers, and emancipate all. The success of the Federal arms in the South was followed by a Proclamation of President Lincoln for 280,000 men, the effect of which will be to stimulate the Northern States to procure substitutes for their own people from the negroes thus brought within their reach. Many have already been obtained in Virginia, and should the future of war expose more of her territory, the enemy will gain a large accession to his strength. His people will thus add to his numbers, and at the same time destroy slavery in a manner most pernicious to the welfare of our people. These negroes will be used to hold them in subjection, leaving the remaining forces of the enemy free to extend his conquest.

Whatever may be the effect of our employing negro troops, it cannot be as mischievous as this.

If it end in subverting slavery, it will be accomplished by ourselves, and we can devise the means of alleviating the evil consequences to both races. I think therefore we must decide whether slavery shall be extinguished by our enemies and the slaves used against us, or to use them ourselves at the risk of the effects which may be produced upon our social institutions.

My own opinion is that we should employ them without delay. I believe that with proper regulations, they can be made efficient soldiers. They possess the physical qualifications in an eminent degree,--long habits of obedience and subordination coupled with that moral influence, which in our country the white man possesses over the black, furnish the best foundation for that discipline which is the surest guaranty of military efficiency. There have been formidable armies composed of men having no interest in the cause for which they fought, beyond their pay or the hope of plunder. But it is certain that the best foundation upon which the fidelity of any army can rest, especially in a service which imposes peculiar hardships and privations, is the personal interest of the soldier in the issue of the contest. Such an interest we can give our negroes, by granting immediate freedom to all who enlist, and freedom at the end of the war to the families of those who discharge their duties faithfully (whether they survive or not) together with the privilege of residing at the South. To this might be added a bounty for faithful service. We should not expect the slaves to fight for prospective freedom, when they can secure it at once by going to the enemy in whose service they would incur no greater risk than in ours. The reasons that induce me to recommend the employment of negro troops at all render the effect on slaves of the measure. I have suggested immaterial, & in my opinion, the best means of securing the efficiency and fidelity of the auxiliary force would be to accompany the measure with a well digested plan of gradual and general emancipation. As that will be the result of the continuance of the war, & will certainly occur if the enemy succeed. It seems to me most desirable to adopt it at once, and thereby obtain all the benefits that will accrue to our cause.

The employment of negro troops under regulations similar in principal to those above indicated would in my opinion greatly increase our military strength, and enable us to relieve our white population to some extent. I think we could dispense with the reserve forces, except in cases of emergency. It would disappoint the hopes which our enemies have upon our exhaustion, deprive them in great measure of the aid they now derive from black troops, and thus throw the burden of the war upon their own people. In addition to the great political advantages which would result to our cause from the adoption of a system of emancipation, it would exercise a salutary influence upon our negro population, by rendering more secure the fidelity of those who become soldiers, and diminish the inducements to the rest to abscond. I can only say in conclusion, that whatever measures are to be adopted should be adopted at once. Every day's delay increases the difficulty; much time will be required to organize & discipline the men & action may be deferred until it is too late.


Very Respc'y
Your Obt servt
(signed) R E Lee

  • 1865

Confederate Military Paroles

Below are two examples of written paroles from the Confederate States of America. The following oath was administered to officers:





I give my word of honor as an officer and a gentlemen that I will not bear arms nor exercise any of the functions of my office under my commission from the President of the United States, against the Confederate States of America, during the existence of the war between the Confederate and United States, unless I shall be exchanged for another prisoner or prisoners of war, or unless I shall be released by the President of the Confederate States. In consideration of the above parole, it is understood that I am free to go and come wherever I may see fit, except that I shall not attempt to enter or depart from any fort, camp, or garrison of the Confederate States without the sanction of its commanding officer.



The following oath was administered to enlisted men:





We do solemnly swear that we will not bear arms against the Confederate States of America, nor in any way give aid and comfort to the United States against the Confederate States, during the existence of the war between the said United States and Confederate States, unless we shall be duly exchanged for other prisoners of war, or until we shall be released by the President of the Confederate States. In consideration of this oath, it is understood that we are free to go wherever we may see fit.





                                                                                New Orleans,.......................................

The City Police are to allow the passage of the slave boy................................................................................................ of.............................................................................. until ...........o'clock.



                                                                                                                          New Orleans,.......................................

The City Police are to allow the passage of the slave girl.............................................................................................. of.............................................................................. until ...........o'clock.



To All Military Authorities


All military authorities are requested to allow the passage of ..........................................................................................

without hindrance, from ....................................... to ................................................


                                                                        By order of



Confederate Quotes

"You can be whatever you resolve to be."
                                                                                                  Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson

"I am with the South in life or in death, in victory or defeat. I never owned a negro and care nothing for them, but these people have been my friends and have stood up to me on all occasions. In addition to this, I believe the North is about to wage a brutal and unholy war on a people who have done them no wrong, in violation of the Constitution and the fundamental principles of the government...We propose no invasion of the North, no attack on them, and only ask to be let alone."
                                                                                                 Patrick R. Cleburne
                                                                                                 May 1861   

"Ours is a just war, a holy cause. The invader must meet the fate he deserves and we must meet him as becomes us, as becomes men."
                                                                                                   John Pelham

"They do not know what they say. If it came to a conflict of arms, the war will last at least four years. Northern politicians will not appreciate the determination and pluck of the South, and Southern politicians do not appreciate the numbers, resources, and patient perseverance of the North. Both sides forget that we are all Americans. I foresee that our country will pass through a terrible ordeal, a necessary expiation, perhaps, for our national sins."
                                                                                                    Robert E. Lee
                                                                                                    May 5, 1861

"War is inevitable, and there is not telling when it will burst around you . . . You have to move and make arrangements to go to some point of safety which you must select. The Mount Vernon plate and pictures ought to be secured. Keep quiet while you remain, and in your preparations . . . May God keep and preserve you and have mercy on all our people."
                                                                  Robert E/ Lee to his wife,
                                                                                       Mary Anna Custis
                                                                                       May 1861                    

"With all my devotion to the Union, and the feeling of loyalty and duty of an American citizen, I have not been able to make up my mind to raise my hand against my relatives, my children and my home."
                                                                                                    Robert E. Lee

"Do your duty in all things...You cannot do more; you should never wish to do less."
                                                                                                    Robert E. Lee

"Obedience to lawful authority is the foundation of manly character."
                                                                                                    Robert E. Lee

"You cannot be a true man until you learn to obey."
                                                                                                     Robert E. Lee

"I cannot trust a man to control others who cannot control himself."
                                                                                                    Robert E. Lee

"Never marry unless you can do so into a family that will enable your children to feel proud of both sides of the house."
                                                                                                    Robert E. Lee

"Governor, if I had foreseen the use those people designed to make of their victory, there would have been no surrender at Appomattox Courthouse; no sir, not by me. Had I foreseen these results of subjugation, I would have preferred to die at Appomattox with my brave men, my sword in this right hand."
                                                                                                     General Robert E. Lee,
                                                                                                      August 1870 to
                                                                                                     Governor Stockdale of Texas

"...In the good providence of God apparent failure often proves a blessing....My trust is in the mercy and wisdom of a kind Providence, who ordereth all things for our good."
                                                                                                                      Robert E. Lee

"Get correct views of life, and learn to see the world in its true light. It will enable you to live pleasantly, to do good, and, when summoned away, to leave without regret."
                                                                                                      Robert E. Lee

The Twenty Negro Law

October 11, 1862

The Congress of the Confederate States of America do enact… to secure the proper police of the country, one person, either as agent, owner or overseer on each plantation on which one white person is required to be kept by the laws or ordinances of any State, and on which there is no white male adult not liable to do military service, and in States having no such law, one person as agent, owner or overseer, on each plantation of twenty negroes, and on which there is no white male adult not liable to military service; And furthermore, For additional police for every twenty negroes on two or more plantations, within five miles of each other, and each having less than twenty negroes, and of which there is no white male adult not liable to military duty, one person, being the oldest of the owners or overseers on such plantations;… are hereby exempted from military service in the armies of the Confederate States;… Provided, further, That the exemptions hereinabove enumerated and granted hereby, shall only continue whilst the persons exempted are actually engaged in their respective pursuits or occupations. FROM James M. Matthews, Public Laws of the Confederate States of America, Passed at the Second Session of the First Congress (Richmond: R. M. Smith, 1862), pp. 77-79.

Captain Robert Smalls

It has just gotten dark on the evening of May 12, 1862. General Roswell Ripley and the other white confederate officers of the Steamer Planter have just gone ashore to attend a party in Charleston, leaving the black crew alone. This was not unusual except that the crew had planned on these events. Quickly, the black crew's families left their hiding places on other vessels and came aboard the Planter.

Robert Smalls was the quartermaster, or wheelman of the ship. In this capacity he had become knowledgable of all navigation channels in Charleston harbor as well as all the gun and troop positions of the confederate armies guarding the harbor. Smalls and the other slaves quietly got the ship underway and headed for the mouth of the harbor and the blockading Union fleet. Soon they would have to pass under the guns of Fort Sumter. To increase their chances of success, Smalls donned the clothing of Planter's confederate captain. The trick apparently worked because they are not fired upon until after they are out of range.

Planter eventually approached the U.S.S. Onward, of the blockading fleet to surrender. She brought with her a 24-pound howitzer, a 32-pound pivot gun, a 7-inch rifle and 4 smooth-bore cannons. Planter had served as headquarters ship for General Ripley and was a valuable ship because she could carry as many as one thousand troops and her shallow draft gave her freedom throughout much of the coastal waters. Robert Smalls had been born on the Sea Islands and knew the waters from Beaufort, South Carolina to Florida. Together they were important prizes for the Union.

Robert Smalls was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant, Company B, 33rd Regiment, United States Colored Troops. He was then detailed as Pilot to the Planter. Later Smalls was assigned to the ironclad Keokuk for an attack into Charleston Harbor. Things soon went awry and the order of battle was abandoned, each ship fighting for itself. Keokuk eventually suffered over 90 shell hits and was soon sent to the bottom. Smalls survived and was transferred back to Planter. In late November of 1863, Planter saw action that prompted it's white captain to surrender. Smalls knew he could expect extremely poor treatment from the confederates and instead urged the gunners to carry on. The captain took cover in the coal bin for the duration of the battle while the crew fought on under Smalls' leadership. This action prompted the dismissal of the captain of record and the promotion of Robert Smalls to the position of Captain.

Robert Smalls gained promotion to the rank of Major General in the South Carolina Militia. He eventually became a congressman after the Civil War. He lived in Beaufort, SC. Smalls tried for years to collect a pension from the navy, but was unsuccessful. There is a memorial bust of him in front of the African Baptist Church in Beaufort. He is buried at the Tabernacle Baptist Church.


Civil War Battle Map

story image(s)

Map US Territory Under Confederate Control

This is an excellent map from an original 1862 Harper's Weekly.  The map shows the region of the country under confederate control.  The map includes most of Kentucky and Mississippi, and all of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia and parts of Missouri, Illinois and Florida.

The map has a dark line around the region controlled by the Rebels. The map has a lot of details, and includes the major cities, Rail Lines and Geographical Land Marks.  The Blue Ridge and Cumberland Mountains are pictured.  This map is highly collectible, and would make an excellent addition to your Civil War collection.  

Civil War Map of North Carolina and Virginia Coastline

story image(s)
Map of North Carolina and Virginia Coastline.jpg
This is a dramatic map of the coastline of Virginia and North Carolina from an original 1862 Harper's Weekly.  The map is impressive, and will make an awesome display.  It includes a significant amount of detail. The map shows Albemarle Sound, Pamlico Sound, Ocracoke Inlet, Hatteras Inlet, Hape Hatteras, Stumpy Point, Neuse River, Palmico River, and Curriluck Sound. The map includes towns and wagon trails in the region.  It includes Fort Monroe, Portsmouth, Norfolk, Jerusalem, Sommerton, Elizabeth City, Edenton, Williamston, Plymoth, Newbern, Craneville, Columbus and Hertford.  Many smaller towns are also included.  The map is captioned, "General Map of Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds, Showing the Theatre of Operations of the Burnside Expedition.

The Salisbury NC Confederate Civil War Prison

Although the buildings are gone and hardly one stone to be found the site of the notorious Civil War Salisbury Prison is alive and well.  During the early days of the Civil War, the "War of northern aggression", the "war to liberate the negro slave", however you refer to it was one of the darkest times for the American nation.  In the late 1850s and early 1860s the South was experiencing a large economic growth.  Their export trading with other parts of the world was vast.  Southern living for many was laid back and elegant.  For others it was slavery.  In the eyes of most Southerners slavery was a way of life.  For the outsider looking in it was a tragedy.  Some say the origins of the war effort of the Union came from envy of the "good" life in the South rather than an effort to stop slavery. When and why the motives changed I don't know and it appears the main thrust of the Union became the freedom of the negro slave.  The Southerner looked at this as an invasion of their homeland and attack on their statehood rights.   

Salisbury had been established in 1755 and was the 5th largest city in North Carolina by 1860.  Gov. John W. Ellis was a Salisburian.  Much can be said for the prosperity and high standing of this area.  It was a major railroad hub and a farming center.  It was also far from the front lines of a coming civil war.  Salisbury and North Carolina responded to this war with much fervor; supplying many goods and many men, probably many more men than most states.  Salisbury proved itself to be a very patriotic town. 

Very early in the war the Confederacy realized the need to house POWs.  A call went out to several states by Confederate Secretary of War, L.P. Walker, asking for property to house POWs.  After a short time a location was selected in Salisbury.  The first surgeon at the Post and prison, a Salisburian was Dr. Joseph W. Hall.  He was appointed in January 1861 and remained there until the end of the war.  The first prison commandant was Dr. Braxton Craven, president of Trinity College, which is located near High Point, NC.  Trinity College is now know as Duke University.  With POWs from the battle of Bull Run on hand, and the Maxwell Chambers Factory location being secured the POWs began to flow in.  The new prison designed to hold 2,000 would eventually overflow with 10,000 or more.  The purchase was final on November 2, 1861.  The first prisoners arrived in December 1861,  one hundred nineteen union soldiers occupied the prison.  46 Bull Run POWs and 73 sailors.  By November 1864, 10,000 prisoners were  crammed into space adequate for several thousand.  On sixteen acres, this brick building was four stories tall and 120 feet by 45 feet with a roof of tin.  The only structures left standing is the Garrison house located on the north end of the original site.  Early on, the prison was not such a bad place to be.  Prisons made it know that being there was like being on a college campus.  Drawing on right was of inside barracks in August of 1862.  Water and shade from large oak trees were plentiful even into early 1864.  The entire prison was surrounded by a high wall in which guards walked regularly.  As the war progressed and Salisbury became more established in supplying the war effort with munitions, weapons and whiskey.  The larger the demand of the war the less the prison had to offer it's POWs.  Food and medicine were scarce as were shelter and clothing to protect against an unusually cold and wet season.  The death count mounted quickly.  The trench burials grew.

In April of 1864 Salisbury arsenal provided 10,000 shells and 4,000 horseshoes to Atlanta.  1,000 muskets were on order.  The more Salisbury provided the war effort the more the Union saw it well worth Stoneman's raid into the area.  By fall of 1864, 8,000 to 10,000 were crowded inside the prison walls.  As sickness increased, all the buildings were converted into hospitals.Major John H. Gee

In August 1864 Major John H. Gee was appointed to the post as commandant and was the best know of all the commandants to serve at the Salisbury Prison.  Although Gee's stay at the prison was a short stay, he was the only commandant indicted and tried for alleged mistreatment of the prisoners.  He was found not guilty because he was given a job that was impossible to perform.  A great reference book written about Major Gee can be found here.  "The Captive by"  Annette Gee Ford.

A historical novel based upon the life story of:

James E. Reed; a union soldier, a warrior, a captive, a survivor, a hero, and in the end, a human marred by inhumanity.  A story of the American Civil War, of a man, a place and a chapter, seldom told and long-forgotten %u2013 James E. Reed and the death camp at the Confederate Prison in Salisbury, North Carolina. 

11,700 unknown Union soldiers are thought to be buried in 18 trenches, each 240 feet long, dug in an abandoned corn field outside the Confederate Prison stockades.   Government records indicate about half that many.  Salisbury National Cemetery encompassed this mass grave site, now a grassy expanse marked by a head and foot stone for each trench.   

In the upper end of the stockade was a spring that supplied the water for the prison.  The lower end of the stream was the latrine area. There were also trips made outside the prison to a nearby stream for fresh water.  Unaware that bacteria could travel upstream, the rest is history.

        General George Stoneman burned the prison buildings April 12-13, 1865.

The National Cemetery was established in 1865 as a memorial to Union soldiers who died in the prison.  Monuments honoring those dead were dedicated by the Federal Government (1873), the State of Maine (1908), the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (1909).  AMVETS presented a carillon (1984) as a living memorial to all who served our country.  About 56,000 soldiers died in prisons during the Civil War %u2014 a greater percentage of those held captive than free soldiers who died in combat.

             The All Wars Monument was dedicated by the Rowan County Veterans Council (1990).

On April 12, 1865, Federal General George Stoneman ordered his 3rd. Brigade to destroy the Yadkin River bridge. Opposition to destroying the bridge came from across the river by Confederate soldiers at Camp Yadkin. This impenetrable fortification was under the command of Confederate General Zebulon York. Armed with cannons on a rock hilltop. After a seven hour artillery duel, the Yankees were forced to withdraw. Seventy-six years after the Wil-Cox bridge opened, the NC DOT has scheduled it for demolition along with the widening of Interstate 85. This bridge is eligible for registration on the National Register of Historic Places. For the past eight months, a group of individuals from the governmental organizations of Rowan and Davidson Counties has been meeting with the NC Transportation Museum and the Spencer Municipal Building gradually developing strategies to preserve this historic treasure.

The Fifty-Fourth Regiment

story image(s)
2 images

The Fifty-Fourth regiment , the only all black unit in the Union Army, particularly contributed to the Northern efforts and further symbolized a new found unity among blacks. For these reasons, it is worthy of more careful exploration.

In 1863, John Andrew, theWar Govenor of Massachusetts, made a request to the secretary of war, Edwin Stanton, to create a volunteer regiment of African Americans. The Fifty-Fourth would include soldiers not only from Massachusetts, since its own black population was not sufficient, but from all over the country. To aid in the recruiting process, the War Govenor called upon the help of African-American leaders such as Frederick Douglass and William Wells Brown. In two months 1,000 men had enlisted in the volunteer army, with every state being represented. The superior officer, though, would not be black. Some credentials were necessary for the person who would lead this unique regiment. In particular Andrew sought

...young men of military experience, of firm

antislavery principles, ambitious, superior to the

vulgar contempt of colour, and having faith in the capacity of

coloured men for military service...

The man for the job was Robert Shaw.

The Regiment and their captain set off for Beaufort, Scouth Carolina on May 28, 1863. Their mission was to attack the Confederates at Fort Wagner. Wagner was the key to Charleston and therefore the attack on it was a significant one, but storming the fort meant marching through bands of Confederate infantry and artillary. Wagner itself was surrounded by a ditch and had thick, high walls. Adding to the list of feats to overcome was the sheer size of the Confederates compared to the size of the Fifty-Fourth. Obstacle after obstacle presented itself to the underprepared and undertrained regiment, but still they marched on. Shaw and a few of his men pushed to the top of the parapet. There the colonel was shot and killed. In spite of the almost total decimation of the regiment,the assault was not a complete failure. Through their heroic actions,the Fifty-Fourth was said to have "blazed a path" for future African American soldiers that would "wind its way to Appomattox."

The unfortunate end to the storming of Fort Wagner did not deter other blacks from volunteering. Rather, the heroic efforts of the Fifty-Fourth served as an incentive. Most African Americans felt as this man did, in his letter to the Boston Daily paper, " ...(we)will go where duty shall call...not as a black man, but as an American..." As often as they attempted, though, some blacks were denied enlistment. A general belief among white leaders was that the war would not last more than one hundred days. Thus to put blacks in the army, to hand them rifles and guns, seemed foolish and futile. If they could not volunteer, then the least they could do was donate food,clothing, or money.

Surprisingly, some Southern blacks wanted to fight for the Confederate cause. A patriotic duty rose above all others in a slave's life. Even though they were not citizens, slaves thought themselves as such. Yet many slaves did not feel like lending their help to the South. In fact, when the Yankee soldiers marched through a Southern town, the slaves often fled to the Northern lines. These fugitives, known as "contraband" to the Union, were often a problem. Yankees did not know whether to return them to the fields or to hand them guns. What they did realize was that the slaves knew the geography of the South far better than any Northern soldier. Eventually, it was declared that these fugitives could be used in a helpful manner to the North, if and only if they were organized into units on a small scale. Therefore, slaves could serve as soldiers, scouts, spies, and messengers to the Union.

The War between the States proved to be a war for democracy. The much awaited liberation of the slaves revived the ideals that founded the country. For once, under the law, men were equal. These changes were more quick to come about due to the persistent efforts made by the blacks themselves. By resisting their masters and through the military aid and other labor tasks they provided the North, the blacks pushed for their own emancipation. Although a formal Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment freed blacks in America, it would be a long time before they truly gained equality. Only decades of hard work would lessen the racism that had been so engrained in the minds of Americans. Blacks had yet to overcome the prejudice, segregation, and discrimination rampant in the American society.

Photo #1~The Fifty-Fourth regiment


Col. Robert Gould Shaw, Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Infantry, May 1863. Boston Athenaeum.

The Forgotten Black Confederate Soldier

"The Forgotten Black Confederate Soldier"

What we have been taught and come to believe has been edited, expurgated, abridged, censored and just plain rewritten for more than 140 years. The words of Irish-born Confederate Major General Patrick Cleburne from his January, 1864, letter which proposed the mass emancipation and enlistment of Black Southerners into the Confederate Army express profoundly accurate prophecy: Every man should endeavor to understand the meaning of subjugation before it is too late...It means the history of this heroic struggle will be written by the enemy; that our youth will be trained by Northern schoolteachers; will learn from Northern school books their version of the war; will be impressed by the influences of history and education to regard our gallant dead as traitors, and our maimed veterans as fit objects for derision...

The conqueror's policy is to divide the conquered into factions and stir up animosity among them... ....It is said slavery is all we are fighting for, and if we give it up we give up all. Even if this were true, which we deny, slavery is not all our enemies are fighting for. It is merely the pretense to establish sectional superiority and a more centralized form of government, and to deprive us of our rights and liberties.

In 2000 the $37 Million movie Ride With the Devil was suppressed in distribution and offered in only 200 theaters for a limited three-day engagement despite the fact that it was directed by Oscar-winning director Ang Lee and had received many excellent reviews. It was suppressed by its distributor, USA Films, because it factually portrayed a Black Confederate guerrilla fighting with Confederate Bushwhackers in the Kansas-Missouri operations. The video release of the movie was delayed for two months to allow removal of the image of the Black Confederate from the cover art. The character was based faithfully on Free Black John Noland who rode with Quantrill as a scout and spy.

Black Southerners fought alongside white, Hispanic, Indian, Jewish and thousands of foreign-born Southerners. They fought as documented by Union sources: Frederick Douglass, Douglass' Monthly, IV [Sept. 1861,] pp 516 - "there are at the present moment many colored men in the Confederate Army - as real soldiers, having muskets on their shoulders, and bullets in their pockets, ready to shoot down loyal troops, and do all that soldiers may do to destroy the Federal government...

There were such soldiers at Manassas and they are probably there still." "Negroes in the Confederate Army," Journal of Negro History, Charles Wesle, Vol. 4, #3, [1919,] 244-245 - "Seventy free blacks enlisted in the Confederate Army in Lynchburg, Virginia. Sixteen companies of free men of color marched through Augusta, Georgia on their way to fight in Virginia." "The part of Adams' Brigade that the 42nd Indiana was facing were the 'Louisiana Tigers.' This name was given to Colonel Gibson's 13th Louisiana Infantry, which included five companies of 'Avegno Zouaves' who still were wearing their once dashing traditional blue jackets, red caps and red baggy trousers.

These five Zouaves companies were made up of Irish, Dutch, Negroes, Spaniards, Mexicans, and Italians." - Noe, Kenneth W., Perryville: This Grand Havoc of Battle. The University of Kentucky Press, Lexington, KY, 2001. [page 270] From James G. Bates' letter to his father reprinted in the 1 May 1863 "Winchester [Indiana] Journal" [the 13th IVI ["Hoosier Regiment"] was involved in operations around the Suffolk, Virginia area in April-May 1863 ] - "I can assure you [Father,] of a certainty, that the rebels have negro soldiers in their army. One of their best sharp shooters, and the boldest of them all here is a negro. He dug himself a rifle pit last night [16 April 1863] just across the river and has been annoying our pickets opposite him very much to-day. You can see him plain enough with the naked eye, occasionally, to make sure that he is a "wooly-head," and with a spy-glass there is no mistaking him."

The 85th Indiana Volunteer Infantry reported to the Indianapolis Daily Evening Gazette that on 5 March 1863: "During the fight the [artillery] battery in charge of the 85th Indiana [Volunteer Infantry] was attacked by [*in italics*] two rebel negro regiments. [*end italics*]." After the action at Missionary Ridge, Commissary Sergeant William F. Ruby forwarded a casualty list written in camp at Ringgold, Georgia about 29 November 1863, to William S. Lingle for publication. Ruby's letter was partially reprinted in the Lafayette Daily Courier for 8 December 1863: "Ruby says among the rebel dead on the [Missionary] Ridge he saw a number of negroes in the Confederate uniform." Federal Official Records, Series I, Vol XVI Part I, pg. 805: "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." Federal Official Records Series 1, Volume 15, Part 1, Pages 137-138: "Pickets were thrown out that night, and Captain Hennessy, Company E, of the Ninth Connecticut, having been sent out with his company, captured a colored rebel scout, well mounted, who had been sent out to watch our movements." Federal Official Records, Series I, Vol. XLIX, Part II, pg. 253 - April 6, 1865: "The rebels [Forrest] are recruiting negro troops at Enterprise, Miss., and the negroes are all enrolled in the State." Federal Official Records, Series I, Vol. XIV, pg. 24, second paragraph - "It is also difficult to state the force of the enemy, but it could not have been less than from 600 to 800. There were six companies of mounted riflemen, besides infantry, among which were a considerable number of colored men." -

referring to Confederate forces opposing him at Pocotaligo, SC., Colonel B. C. Christ, 50th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, official report of May 30, 1862 "Sargt said war is close to being over. saw several negros fighting for those rebels." - From the diary of James Miles, 185th N.Y.V.I., entry dated January 8, 1865 Black Southerners also demonstrated loyalties based not on ownership, subservience or fear. The Confederate Burial Mound for Camp Morton, Indiana, at Indianapolis, Indiana, has bronze tablets which list the nearly 1200 Confederates who died at that camp. Among those names are 26 Black Southerners, seven Hispanic Southerners and six Indiaan Southerners.

At a time when those Black Southerners could have walked into the Camp Commander's office, taken a short oath and signed their name to walk out the gates free men obliged to no one they chose instead to stay even unto death. Your understanding of that choice is likely nonexistent. Union soldiers robbed, raped and murdered Free Black and slave Southerners they had come to "emancipate." Union "recruiters" hunted, kidnapped and tortured Black Southerners to compel them to serve in the Union Army.

At the Battle of the Crater white Union soldiers bayoneted retreating Black Union soldiers and the 54th Massachusetts was intentionally fired upon by Union Maine troops while assaulting Battery Wagner. The Federal Official Records and memoirs of the USCT document all of these war crimes. Since the Civil War the United States flag has flown over a country that has continued attempted genocide against its Native Peoples with the able help of Black "Buffalo Soldiers," condoned the slavery of Orientals in California well into the 1880s, fought wars to maintain dominance over countries whose people were not white, and imprisoned its own citizens because of the color of their skin as they did with the Japanese-Americans in California from 1941-1945.

It is time that the misrepresentation which has come to be accepted as "history" is restored to its full measure and the positive and negative aspects of all parties exposed for the consideration of all Americans. Use and Enjoy these relevant quotes from history: "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, Tennessee - July, 1875 "There are few, I believe, in this enlightened age, who will not acknowledge that slavery as an institution is a moral and political evil. It is idle to expatiate on its disadvantages. I think it is a greater evil to the white than to the colored race." - Col. Robert E. Lee, USA - December 27, 1856 " ...As usual with the enemy, they posted their negro regiments on their left and in front, where they were slain by hundreds, and upon retiring left their dead and wounded negroes uncared for, carrying off only the whites, which accounts for the fact that upon the first part of the battle-field nearly all the dead found were negroes." -

Federal Official Records, Vol. XXV, Chapter XLVII, pg. 341 - report of the Confederate Commander, Savannah, April 27, 1864 - Battle of Ocean Pond [Olustee] - 54th Mass. present [Reporting on the assault on Battery Wagner] "Sergeant George E. Stephens of Company B described the scene to Captain Emilio: 'Just at the very hottest moment of the struggle, a battalion or regiment charged up to the moat, halted, and did not attempt to join us, but from their position commenced to fire upon us. I was one of the men who shouted from where I stood, 'Don't fire on us. We are the Fifty-fourth.' I have heard it was a Maine Regiment .'" -

"A Brave Black Regiment: History of the Fifty-Fourth Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry," Luis F. Emilio, Boston: Boston Book Company, 1894; Reprint, Salem: Ayer Company Publishers, Inc., 1990., 93 [Regarding the Battle of the Crater] "George L. Kilmer, an officer of the Fourteenth New York Heavy Artillery, went into the crater with the first wave and reported afterward that when the USCT moved forward to charge the fort, some of white soldiers refused to follow them. Pandemonium broke out when the black soldiers could not continue the assault and started to retreat and come back into the crater. 'Some colored men came into the crater and there they found a fate worse than death in the charge . . .

It has been positively asserted, that white men [Union] bayoneted blacks who fell back into the crater.'" - "The Sable Arm." Dudley T. Cornish, New York: Longman, Green & Co., 1956, p 274 The 37th Texas Cavalry We invite you to visit with the 37th Texas Cavalry [Terrell's,] Confederate States Army, the primary focal point on the Web for valid research and documentation of the Forgotten Confederates. We have the largest, most visited Civil War reenactor web site. With 118 Web Awards to date it is the most honored Civil War site of any kind. While we stand firmly for history and against those who misrepresent the South and its history, we are not affiliated with any heritage or descendant groups. Our ranks include Caucasian, African American, Hispanic, Native American, Jewish, biracial, and female troopers. We have Co. C [Dismounted,] in Los Angeles, California, under command of Captain Edward Aguilar; Co. D [Dismounted,] British Guard, in Hampshire, England; Co. E [Dismounted,] in Athens, Greece; Co. F [Mounted] in Tasmania, Australia; Co. G [Dismounted] is forming in North Queensland, Australia; Co. H is slated to form in Croatia; Co. I is forming in South Carolina; Co. K is forming in Northern California under the command of Capt. Mike Rodriguez; and Co. L is forming in Houston, Texas. 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. colonel@37thtexas.orgColonel Michael Kelley, CSA Commanding, 37th Texas Cavalry [Terrell's] http://www.37thtexas.org http://thewargallery.com "We are a band of brothers!" http://www.patriotist.com/black-soldier.htm


The Black soldiers who served in the Confederate Army are the real forgotten men...

Private R.M. Doswell was hastening back to his unit after carrying an order when something attracted his attention. The young Virginian had just spotted one of the new Confederate companies of black soldiers, "a novel sight to me." the black Confederates were guarding a wagon train near Amelia Court House on the retreat from Richmond.
Doswell reined in about 100 yards to the rear of the wagon train and watched in fascination as a Union cavalry regiment formed up to charge. The black Confederates fired their weapons like veterans and drove back the overconfident Federals. The horse soldiers re-formed for another charge. This time they broke up the wagon train and scattered the defenders. The black soldiers were captured and disarmed. Doswell suddenly realized his own danger and rode away without being noticed.

The date was April 4, 1865. Five days later, Lee would surrender his Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House.

The Couragous black soldiers who served in the various Northern armies have been much publicized and praised. Their brothers who fought for the South have been almost totally ignored. In actual fact, black Americans marched to war with the Southern armies from the very beginning in early 1861. In contrast, the Federal government refused to allow black men to serve in its ranks until well into the conflict. It was 1863 before the North began using black troops in any large number, and only then after considerable opposition.
Why did black men become soldiers of the south? It is often forgotten that while slavery was the major underlying cause of the Civil War, its abolition was not the original objective of the US government. In his inaugural address of March 4, 1861, President Abraham Lincoln stated that he had "no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the states where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so."

The attempts by overzealous generals such as John C. Fremont and David Hunter to free the slaves in the areas they occupied were promptly countermanded by Lincoln. The man in the White House had enough problems without pushing slave-owning Union loyalist in the critical border stares into the arms of secessionists.

Many Northern soldiers felt the same way, declaring that they would stop fighting if the war turned into a crusade for abolition. Before crossing the Ohio River in 1861 into what would become West Virginia, Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan had issued a proclamation to reassure the inhabitants, "Not only will we abstain from such interference," he wrote, "but we will on the contrary with an iron hand crush any insurrection on their part." Even General Ulysses S. Grant had said that if he "thought this was was to abolish slavery, I would resign my commission, and offer my sword to the other side."

Faced with such an attitude from the hostile North, the black Southerners had little reason not to be loyal to their home section. The slaves had nothing to gain from a Northern victory, and free black men might actually stand to lose such rights and property as they already had.

The 1860 census counted 240,747 "free Negroes" in the slave states, 15,000 more than lived in the free states to the north. Almost half a century earlier, free black Southerners had fought under Andrew Jackson to help defeat British invaders at the Battle of New Orleans. Not surprisingly, many also volunteered to defend their homes against the new threat from the North. No accurate record has been kept of black units that served the South, since most of them were state militia and never mustered into the Confederate Army. However, contemporary newspapers mention black units as being present at Charleston, Mobile, Nashville, New Orleans, Bowling Green, Ky., and Lynchburg, Va. Not one of these militia units appears to have been actively engaged in combat, though many did perform service on the front lines. Quite often this was as laborers in the construction of fortifications, a task also performed by slaves.

While free black men may have been accepted into the Confederate Army, the question of allowing slaves to enlist was another matter. As early as July 11, 1861, W.S. Turner of Helena, Ark., had proposed to arm and equip a regiment of slaves from his area for the Confederate Army. The offer was not accepted. In fact, such proposals struck at the very basis of slavery. To admit that slaved could be turned into good soldiers was to recognize black equality. If that was the case, slavery was wrong. Nevertheless, thousands of slaves served in the Southern army as noncombatants such as cooks, teamsters and musicians, or as personal servants to white Southerners.

Many of the slaves did on occasion take up arms and become combatants. An Englishman serving with the South wrote that one "might as well endeavor to keep ducks from water as to attempt to hold in the cooks of our company, when firing or fighting is on hand." Despite ordering his black cook to remain in the rear during the First Battle of Manassas, the English Confederate found him on the firing line, rifle in hand, shouting "Go in, Massa! give it to 'm, boys! Now you've got 'm, and give 'em Hell!" The soldier wrote, "If the Negro is really so unhappy as Northernern orators proclaim, why do our servants go into battle with us? - how comes it that officers cannot keep them from the front?"

One of the fighting cooks was given his freedom as a reward for his bravery but still continued to follow his former owner. It should be noted, however, that in almost every instance where a slave served loyally with his soldier-master, there was longstanding close relationship between the two. Slave and master had often grown up together, and the emotional ties between the two were strong.

For the vast majority of slaves, the war over secession meant little. Quite sensibly, they were basically neutral. Even after the Emancipation Proclamation, most slaves did not automatically support the North. In 1866, a witness before the Congressional Committee on Reconstruction was asked what percentage of the Southern blacks sympathized with the North during the war. "None of them," he replied. "There has been this: a dispostion on their part to try something new...to be free; and when they came within reach of the Federal army a great many of them ran away to it. But there was no resistance to discipline and authority at home."

In fact, slaves serving with the Confederate Army showed little inclination to run away even when they were deep within Union territory. A British observer, Lt. Col. Arthur J. Fremantle of the Coldstream Guards, noted in his diary that he observed an armed black man leading a Union prisoner in Pennsylvania during the Gettysburg campaign. The man explained to Fremantle that the two soldiers assigned to guard the prisoner were drunk, so he had taken charge of the prisoner to keep him from escaping. "This little episode of a Southern slave leading a white Yankee through a Northern village, alone and of his own accord, would not have been gratifying to an abolitionists," wrote Fremantle. "Nor would the sympathizers both in England and in the North feel encouraged if they could hear the language of detestation and contempt with which numerous Negroes with the Southern armies speak of their liberators."

The issue of arming the slaves was one which the South would eventually have to face. It was all a matter of numbers. The population of the Northern states was several times that of the South, and about one-third of the total Southern population was black. As the war dragged on, the shortage of manpower became exceedingly evident. Sooner or later, the slaves would have to be turned into soldiers. However, to do so was to write the finish to slavery itself.

By the end of the third year of the war, Maj. Gen. Patrick R. Clebutne decided the time had come. Abraham Lincoln had already issued his Emancipation Proclamation, which ironically affected only the states who were not under his control. Lincoln had proclaimed freedom for all slaves in the territory still held by the Confederacy in an attempt to end their usefullness in the South. However, the slaves in areas under Union control remained slaves. It almost seemed hypocritical. Nevertheless, the Emancipation Proclamation was a powerful psychological weapon that made the North now appear tomany as the champion of human liberty. The slaves had been given reason to hope for Northern victory.
Irish-born 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. "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." The Lincoln government had already decided that was indeed the case. In the summer of 1862, the U.S. Congress authorized the president to employ as many black noncombatants as he felt necessary. They still were not accepted by the North as soldiers, but within a year's time they would be.

The Union Army's black troops were formed into segregated units commanded by white officers. A number of these regiments distinguished themselves in combat, and black Union soldiers eventually would be present at over 400 battles and skirmishes before the war had ended. The black Federals, however, were discriminated against in other ways. Until late in the war, they received lower pay than white soldiers. Throughout the war they were regularly cheated of their enlistment bonuses by unscrupulous recruiting agents. Black soldiers faced an additional danger not shared by their white colleagues. If captured, they would not be considered prisoners of war, but sold back into slavery. On a few occasions, black captives were simply shot.

    NOTE the above statement is not completely true (thanks to Captain Michael Kelley of the 34th Texas Cavalry for the following clarification:

      Black Union soldiers _were_ taken as prisoner and are recorded as such in Southern prison camps. One was Corporal Henry Gooding of the 54th Massachusetts, whose letters to his hometown newspaper were later published as, "On the Altar of Freedom - the Collected Letters of Cpl Henry B. Gooding, 54th Massachusetts (Colored)"; he died as a POW at Andersonville in 1865. At Ft. Pillow, Gen. N.B. Forrest took away 37 Black Union soldiers as POWs.

    End Note

Tens of thousands of black Southerners eventually served in the Northern armies. The Emancipation Proclamation gave them a reason to do so, though many did so clearly against their will. Union officers sometimes rounded up recruits at the point of a bayonet, since collecting the Federal bounty of $100 dollars for each man made this a highly profitable sideline. On February 7, 1865, Lincoln personally wrote to the army commander at Henderson, Ky., ordering him to stop torturing black men to force them to enlist.
Six weeks earlier, Brig. Gen. Rugus Saxon had informed the War Department of an even more shocking incident that occured in South Carolina when slaves were conscripted en masse. "The order spread confusion and terror," wrote Saxon. "The Negroes fled to the woods and swamps, visiting their cabins only by stealth and in darkness. They were hunted to their hiding places by armed partied of their own people, and if found, compelled to enlist." Three young men, one only 14, were seized while working in a field and sent to a distant regiment without their parents even being informed. A black man who refused to enlist was shot dead. Another man who worked for the army quartermaster department was kidnapped and forced to join an infantry regiment.
By the end of 1864, the battered Confederacy was running out of time. On September 26, 1864, Governer Henry W. Allen of Louisianna wrote to to the Confederate secretary of war urging him to take action at once. "The time has come for us to put into the army every able-bodied Negro man as a soldier," Allen said. "We have learned from dear-bought experience that Negroes can be taught to fight. I would free all able to bear arms, and put them into the field at once. They will make much better soldiers for us than against us, and swell the now depleted ranks of our armies."
The influential Richmond Enquirer agreed in its editorial for October 18, 1864. "When it is once understood that freedom and a home in the South are the privelages offered by the Confederate authorities, not only will desertions from our ranks be unfrequent, but the drafted Negroes of the Yankee armies will exchange services."
In January 1865, Robert E. Lee gave his powerful support in a letter to Andrew Hunter of Virginia. Lee proposed that all slaves who were willing to enlist be freed and armed. "We must decide whether slavery shall be extinguished by our enemies and the slaves used against us, or use them ourselves at the risk of the effects which may be produced on our social institutions," he wrote. "My own opinion is that we should employ them without delay." Lee also felt that if the action had been taken at the beginning of the war, black assistance might have been decisive.
On February 18, 1865, the Confederate Congress finally authorized the enlistment of Southern slaves "to provide additional forces to repel invasion, maintain the rightful possession of the Confederate States, secure their independence and preserve their institutions." One instituion they would not be preserving was that of slavery. No matter which side won, slavery was now as good as dead. Surprisingly, the Southern army accepted black soldiers as equals. By order of March 23, 1865, the black Confederates were to "receive the same ration, clothing, and compensation as allowed other troops in the same branch of service."
The enlistment of slaves into the Confederate Army began almost at once. Soon, black soldiers were drilling in the streets of Richmond, and the Confederate War Department was being deluged with requests for the authority to raise more. On March 21, 1865, the Richmond Sentinal reported that the battalion from Camps Winder and Jackson, including "the company of colored troops under Captain Grimes," would parade on the square. Three days later, the newspaper informed its readers that "the Negro brigade being raised by Majors Pegram and Turner, is being rapidly filled up."
The black companies were provided with new uniforms and marched through the city to encourage more to enlist. Black units were also recruited in the deep South, and a worried Ulysses S. Grant wrote to Maj. Gen. Edward R.S. Canby at Mobile to "get all the Negro men we can before the enemy puts them into their ranks." However, the Southern leaders had waited far too long. The war would be over before the black Confederates could have any effect on the outcome.
But what would have happened if Confederate authorities had acted sooner? Could the South have won, after all? Slavery was the main obstacle in gaining foreign recognition, especially after the Emancipation Proclamation had made the North appear to be fighting to bring freedom to the black man. Slavery's abolition by the Confederacy would have eliminated the moral issue and made the South acceptable to Europe. Christian Fleetwood, a black soldier who had served in the Union Army, realized this. "The immense addition to their fighting forces, quick recognition of Great Britian, to which slavery was the greatest bar, and the fact that the heart of the Negro was with the South but for slavery, and the case stands clear," he wrote. Confederate General John Bell Hood was equally positive. "This stroke of policy and additional source of strength would, in my opinion, have given us our independence." Yet slavery was one of the basic issues of the war. The Confederate political leaders could not bear to give it up until there was nothing else left to do.
After the war, the contributions of black soldiers to the Southern war effort were almost completely forgotten. In part, this was the result of the growing misconception that the Civil War had been fought solely to end slavery. The political and economic causes were virtually ignored, as was the question of the legality of secession. The memory of the martyred Abraham Lincoln left little place for the recognition of black men who had fought against his armies. However, one former slave who had been captured with his master spoke for them all. "I had as much right to fight for my native State as you had to fight for yours," he told a Union officer, "and a blame sight more right than your furriners, what's got no homes."
The Confederate veterans did not forget. In 1913, 50 years after the bloody Battle of Gettysburg, thousands of surviving members of the rival armies met once more at the little Pennsylvania town, this time in friendship. The commission in charge of housing had provided accommodations for the black Union veterans. However, they were completely surprised when black Confederates showed up as well. The unexpected black Southerners were given straw pallets in the main tent of the compound. White veterans from Tennessee soon learned of their old comrads' plight. The white Confederates led the black veterans to their own camp, assigned them one of their tents, and saw to their every need. In peace, as in war, all men were equal.

(Article by Charles Rice, America's Civil War, November 1995)

Rufus Jackson

Rufus Jackson enlisted in the Confederate Army on 5-15-1862 at Rico Bluff, Florida and later deserted to the Union Army on 8-21-1864 an was sent to Philadelphia - "Hartmans Biographical Rosters, Tenth Florida Infantry, Co. B,"

Avoid Conscription

story image(s)
Note the date of June 30, 1862
The 37th Tennessee Infantry, Co. A, raised in April, 1861 was made up of 30% Black Southerners
This is courtesy of the Library of Congress
  • 1862

37th. Texas Cavalry Enlistment

story image(s)
37th texasenlist.jpg
Enlistment Contract

Men of Honor~Recrutment Poster

story image(s)
37th. Texas Cavalry

Individual Black Confederates

James Russell~ Free man of color, Cook for Company C, 24th South Carolina Volunteer Infantry. Killed in action at Missionary Ridge on November 25, 1863

Louis Napoleon Nelson ~Free man of color, Private, 7th Tennessee Cavalry (under General Forrest).  Fought at Shiloh, Lookout Mountain, Brice's Crossing, and Vicksburg. Survived the war.

Charles F. Lutz~ Free man of color, Private, Company F, 8th Louisiana Volunteer Infantry. Fought in the Shenandoah Valley (under Stonewall Jackson, Fredricksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg. Captured and paroled twice; never betraying the Confederacy. Survived the War

John Wilson Buckner~  Free man of color, Private, 1st South Carolina Artillery . Wounded on July 12, 1863 defending Battery Wagner against the 54th Mass. Infantry.

James Young_  Status Unknown, Private, Company K, 29th Alabama Infantry. Survived the War.

Jean Baptiste Pierre-Auguste~  Free man of color, Private, Company I, 29th Louisiana Volunteer Infantry. Defended Vicksburg, returned home after its fall, then returned to duty during the summer months of 1864 for the rest of the War.  Survived the War.

William Colen Revels~ Status unknown, Private, 21st North Carolina Infantry. Wounded at Winchester and Gettysburg. If Survival of War Unknown.

Silas Chandler~ Former Slave and Free Man of Color , Body Servant, 44th Mississippi Infantry. Survived the War.

Eli Dempsey~Status Unknown, Private, 1st North Carolina Artillery. POW 1862-1864. Survived the War.

John Parker~ Slave, Private, Artilleryman at the Battle of 1st Manassas. Pressed into service at the battle. Survived the War.




Tales of Combat

After the Battle of Gettysburg, two white Confederates came upon an unsuspecting Yankee soldier but were too drunk to handle him so they turned him over to their body servant. Colonel Arthur Fremantle, an English observer says he saw, "a negro dressed in full Yankee uniform, with a rifle at full cock, leading along a barefoot white man, with whom he had evidently changed clothes." When questioned by General Longstreet, the servant told the story with obvious contempt in his voice for his Northern prisoner.

Two body servants of Confederate soldiers named Tom and Overton picked up Yankee weapons that were laying around and moved up and joined the firing line of the 12th Virginia Cavalry at an unknown battle.

At the Battle of Mechanicsville, one white Confederate soldier refused to fight throwing down his rifle and accoutrements. His body servant asked the commanding officer for permission to take up his masters weapon and equipment and fight. He was allowed to do so.

One body servant chanced upon a Yankee officer with two horses. Having a gun, he shot the Northerner and took the horses back to Confederate lines probably to be given to the cavalry.

Shortly after the surrender of Fort Sumter by Major Anderson in April of 1861, a company of armed, colored soldiers was seen marching through Charleston, South Carolina.

A company of free black men offered their serviced to the Governor of Tennessee as soldiers. Soon afterwards in June of 1861, the governor accepted into state service all male persons of color.

The 1st Louisiana Regiment of Native Guards was a military unit composed of free black men. They were organized in 1861 and early 1862.

In 1865, the Confederate Congress authorized the raising of black regiments to fight in the Army of Northern Virginia. This measure was too little, too late to help General Lee.


Writings About and By Black Confederates

To Brigadier General Lawton

Commanding Military District

The undersigned free men of color, residing in the city of Savannah and county of Chatham, fully impressed with the feeling of duty we owe to the State of Georgia as inhabitants thereof, which has for so long a period extended to ourselves and families its protection, and has been to us the source of many benefits-beg leave, respectfully, in this the hour of danger, to tender to yourself our services, to be employed in the defense of the state, at any place or point, at any time or any length of time, and in any service for which you may consider us best fitted, and in which we can contribute to the public good.

Quoted in Clarence Mohr, On the Threshold: Masters and Slaves in Civil War Georgia 1861-1865 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1986), 66.

I’ve bin havin’a good time ginerally—see a heap of fine country and a plenty of purty gals…I have also bin on the battle fields and hear the bullets whiz. When the Yankees run I…got more clothes, blankets, overcoats, and razors than I could tote. I’ve got an injin rubber cloke with two brass eyes keeps the rain off like a meetin’ house. Im a made man since the battle and cockt and primed to try it again. If I kin kill a Yankee and git a gold watch, and a pair of boots, my trip will be made. How other niggers do to stay at home, while we soldiers are havin’ such a good time is more than I can tell.

Letter from a South Carolina body-servant to his sister which summed up his feelings in battle as well as his self-identity, as many others like him must have felt

Dedicated to The faithful slaves Who, loyal to a sacred trust Toiled for the support Of the Army with matchlessDevotion…guarded "Our Confederate States of America"

Inscription on an unusual monument at Fort Mill, South Carolina.

 "We was sort of brought up together, master Will and I was, and maybe that’s why every body seemed to sort of trust him to me. I used to rock him to sleep. He got to be a fine and reckless sort of gentleman. Then the war came. I went with master Will. Nothing could stop him and I knew he would need me. He got to be a first lieutenant in the cavalry. I slept in the same tent. When he was fighting I stayed with ambulances… I got wounded once at the battle of Sullivan’s Creek. Master Will was killed at Chickamauga. I brought his body home. I smuggled him by the pickets, hired a wagon and got him to Chattanooga. From there I brought him on home."

Sam Newsom of Tennessee, a body-servant evidently to a young man named Will.

For a considerable time during the siege the enemy had a Negro rifle shooter in their front who kept up a close fire on our men, and, although the distance was great, yet he caused more or less annoyance by his persistent shooting. On one occasion while at the advanced posts with a detail, the writer with his squad had an opportunity to note the skill of this determined darky with his well-aimed rifle. Being stationed at a pit on the edge of a wood fronting the treeless stretch of ground around the opposing works, with sand bags piled up for cover, during the forenoon this rebellious black made his appearance by the side of an officer and under his direction commenced firing at us. For a long time this chance shooting was kept up, the black standing out in plain view and cool drawing bead, but failed to elicit any response, our orders being to lie quiet and not be seen. So the Negro had the shooting all to himself, his pop, pop, against the sand bags on the edge of the pit often occurring, while other close shots among the trees showed plainly that he was a good shot at long range. He became pretty well known among the scouts and pickets, and had established quite a reputation for marksmanship, before he came to grief. Emboldened by his having pretty much all this promiscuous shooting unopposed, the pickets rarely firing at him, he began to work at shorter distance, taking advantage of the ground and scattering trees. This is what our men wanted, to get him within a more reasonable range, not caring to waste ammunition trying to cripple him at the long distance he had at first been showing himself. They wanted to make sure of him. In the meantime our boys would when opportunity offered, without being seen, post a man forward to wait in concealment for the adventurous darky. The scheme succeeded and his fate was sealed. A scouting party was sent out, cornered the black sharpshooter in a chimney top a quarter of a mile in front of their lines, and shot him.

A similar account around the same time claims that another black sharpshooter "had done more injury to our men than any dozen of his whit peers…" He perched in a big tree, behind its trunk and shot at Yankees in front of Yorktown. At one point he was nearly surrounded, and a Federal supposedly shouted at him: "I say, big nigger, you better come down from there." When told that he had been captured he replied "not as this chile knows of" and resumed firing, whereupon he was quickly shot through the head.

There are several accounts of black Confederate sharpshooters. This is the appearance of one during the Peninsula Campaign in 1862, firing at members of Hiram Berdan’s First U.S. Sharpshooters.

Quotation is from the unit’s historian.

I James Maney, colored, was a slave of Dr. James Maney, the grandfather of Lieut. James Keeble, who was an aid on the staff of Gen’l George Maney. Dr. James Maney, at the breaking out of the war was the owner of a large plantation 2400 acres in Mississippi, and I was on that plantation at the time. When the Federals took possession of that part of the state in 1863, I, with other slaves, was carried to Georgia, and was put at work in the "Dixie Works" at Macon, GA from which place, in the latter part of 1863, I was sent to Dalton, as a body servant for my young master, James Keeble, who as stated was on the staff of Gen’l Maney. I went with him through all the Dalton campaign, up to the time Hood came into Tennessee. When Hood left for Tennessee, I was put in charge of a horse belonging to Col. Richard Keeble, at Aberdeen, Miss. When Hood returned from Tennessee, I rejoined my master, went with him through Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and up into North Carolina, and was with him when the army surrendered at Greensboro, and then came home with him. We came by way of Chattanooga, where I was put in a "bull pen," and the next day was on the train for Murfreesboro, with my master, and reached home at 4 o’clock in the morning.

James Maney, 20 years old in 1863. Traveled a great deal more than a slave might expect.

Civil War~Richmond Official Records

February 14, 1865.

 Lieut. Gen. R. S. EWELL:

DEAR SIR: For my own gratification, as well as those who are taking great interest in the important question, with regard to the using of the slaves of the Confederacy as an assisting element to us in defending our homes, firesides, and country from those who would destroy us, I would respectfully say that this morning I caused the hired male slaves at this hospital to be convened, and after asking them the deliberate question, if they would be willing to take up arms to protect their masters' families, homes, and their own from an attacking foe, sixty out of seventy-two responded they would volunteer to go to the trenches and fight the enemy to the bitter end.

Very respectfully, your most obedient servant,


Surgeon in charge.


From the National Archives, RG 109 (Administrative Files – Subject Index: Ships – Zouaves, Box # 5 , “Slaves” Folder)


Hd Qrs Jackson Battalion
March 16th 1865

                    I have the honor to report that in obedience to your orders received through Surg Hancock I ordered my Battalion from the 1st 2d 3 & 4 Div of Jackson Hospital to the front on Saturday night at 12 o’clk and reported by order of Maj. Pegram to Col. Ship P.A.C.S. Comdg Cadet Corps.

I have great pleasure in stating that my men acted with the utmost promptness and good will.

I had the pleasure of turning over to Major Chambliss a portion of my negro command to be attached to his negro command. Allow me to state that they behaved in extraordinary commendable(?) manner. I would respectfully ask that Major Chambliss be particularly noticed for the manner which he handled that very important element to be inaugurated in our service.

Respy your Obdt Servt

H. C. Scott
Surg(?) & Major Comdg
Jackson Battln

From the Richmond Sentinel, 3/18/1865, p. 1, c. 2

RECRUITS. - The two negroes sentenced to be hung for burglary, have been pardoned on condition that they will join the black brigade of Cols. Pegram and Turner.

From the Richmond Sentinel, 3/21/65


THE BATTALION from Camps Winder and Jackson, under the command of Dr. Chambliss, including the company of colored troops under Captain Grimes, will parade on the square on Wednesday evening, at 4½ o’clock. This is the first company of negro troops raised in Virginia. It was organized about a month since, by Dr. Chambliss, from the employees of the hospitals, and served on the lines during the recent Sheridan raid.

From the Richmond Dispatch, 3/23/1865


PARADE. - Yesterday afternoon the Camps Winder and Jackson battalion paraded on the Capitol Square. In the battalion were two companies of negroes (not uniformed), which were made up from the negroes employed about the hospitals. They are not, we believe, in the Confederate military service. In marked contrast to the appearance of these negroes was that of a squad of Major Turner's colored troops, neatly uniformed, and showing a good soldierly carriage. These regulars had gone up to look at their colored brethren. Volunteering would be much encouraged by the parade of Major Turner's men, which will, we hope, soon take place.

From the Richmond Enquirer, 3/23/1865

THE CORPS D’AFRIQUE. – The appearance of the battalion of colored troops on the Square, yesterday afternoon, attracted thousands of our citizens to the spot, all eager to catch a glimpse of the sable soldiers. The bearing of the negroes elicited universal commendation. While on the Square, they went through the manual of arms in a manner which would have done credit to veteran soldiers, while the evolutions of the line were executed with promptness and precision. As an appropriate recognition of their promptness in forming the first battalion of colored troops in the Confederacy, we suggest to the ladies of Richmond the propriety of presenting the battalion with an appropriate banner.

From the Richmond Enquirer, 3/23/1865



Richmond, March 11, ‘65.


Sirs – You are hereby authorized to raise a company or companies of negro soldiers under the provisions of the act of Congress, approved March 13, 1865.

When the requisite number shall have been recruited, they will be mustered into the service for the war, and muster rolls forwarded to this office.

The companies, when organized, will be subject to the rules and regulations governing the Provisional army of the Confederate States.

By command of the Secretary of War.

(Signed)            JOHN W. RIPLEY. A. A. G.

To Major J. W. Pegram, Major T. P. Turner, through Gen. Ewell.



It will be seen by the order of the Secretary of War, published above, that the undersigned have been authorized to proceed at once with the organization of companies to be composed of persons of color, free and slave, who are willing to volunteer under the recent acts of Congress and Legislature of Virginia. It is well known to the country that General Lee has evinced the deepest interest in this subject and that he regards prompt action in this matter as vitally important to the country. In a letter addressed by him to Lieutenant General Ewell, dated March 10th, he says: “I hope it will be found practicable to raise a considerable force in Richmond.” *  *  *  * “I attach great importance to the first experiment, and nothing should be left undone to make it successful. The sooner this can be accomplished the better!”

The undersigned have established a rendezvous on 21st, between Main and Cary Streets, at the building known as “Smith’s Factory,” and every arrangement has been made to secure the comfort of the recruits, and to prepare them for service. It is recommended that each recruit be furnished, when practicable, with a gray jacket and pants, cap and blanket and good serviceable pair of shoes, but no delay should take place in forwarding the recruits in order to obtain these articles.

The Governments, Confederate and State, having settled the policy of employing this element of strength, and this class of our population having given repeated evidence of their willingness to take up arms in defence of their homes, it is believed that it is only necessary to put the matter before them in a proper light to cause them to rally with enthusiasm for the preservation of the homes in which they have been born and raised, and in which they have found contentment and happiness, and to save themselves and their face from the barbarous cruelty invariably practiced upon them by a perfidious enemy claiming to be their friends.

Will not the people of Virginia, in this hour of peril and danger, promptly respond to the call of our loved General in Chief, and the demand of the Confederate and State Governments? Will those who have freely given their sons and brothers, their money and their property to the achievement of the liberties of their country now hold back from the cause their servants, who can well be spared, and who would gladly aid in bringing this fearful war to a speedy and glorious termination?

Let every man in the State consider himself a recruiting officer and enter at once upon the duty of aiding in the organization of this force by sending forward recruits to our rendezvous. Every consideration of patriotism, the independence of our country, the safety of our homes, the happiness of our families and the sanctity of our firesides all prompt to immediate and energetic action  for the defence of the country. Let the people but be true to themselves and to the claims of duty and our independence will be speedily secured and peace be restored within our borders.

Major, &c., P. A. C. S.,

Major, &c., P. A. C. S.

 From the Richmond Sentinel, 3/23/65


PARADE. – Dr. Chambliss’ battalion, from the Winder and Jackson hospitals, paraded on the Capitol Square last evening, in the presence of several thousand persons. The two negro companies of the battalion were the feature of the occasion, and attracted universal attention and commendation.

From the Richmond Sentinel, 3/30/1865, p. 2, c. 7

NEGRO DESERTER. - The free negro John Scott, who was received as a member of Major Turner’s battalion a few days ago, became suddenly tired of going through the manual, and took his departure on Sunday last for parts unknown, carrying with him about twenty-five pairs of soldiers’ drawers, shirts, &c., belonging to some of the boys.


Compiled References Regarding Black Confederates

At Confederate Mound at Indianapolis, Indiana, there are 26 Black Southerners, four Hispanics, and one Cherokee at rest with their white Confederate comrades-in-arms. Although the Blacks were listed universally as "Negro Servants" through the convention of Northern mindset, you will find those which cannot be explained as "servants."

Since the death rate at Camp Morton was about 10% we can surmise that about 250 Black Southerners passed through there or were held there:

Christian, J. (Negro), Co. D, Morgan's 2nd Cavalry, d. 11/22/63
Vance, J.W. (Negro), CSA Mail Carrier, d. 3/14/64

Littleton, Solomon (Negro), 3rd Inf., d. /3/62

Mayo, Henry (Negro), Co. G 36th Inf., d. 3/23/62

Frazier, George (Capt) (Negro), CSA, d. 1863

Considering that the other Black Southerners listed were not listed in relation to any Confederate unit or with a specific occupation such as "Mail Carrier" it is unlikely these men so uniquely listed were personal servants, cooks, or the like. As for George Frazier* it is likely we will never know how or why he became listed with the rank "Captain" following his name as none of the other Black Southerners buried there had any rank specified as if it might have been their master's rank.


  • Indianapolis, Indiana

Richard Quarls and the Dead Man’s Pension

story image(s)
6 images

story done by a local news station in Florida on Richard Quarls, in honor of Black History Month. Quarls is one of the better-known “black Confederate soldiers,” and in 2003 had a Confederate headstone placed over his grave by the local SCV and UDC groups.


There are two narratives being told in the segment about Richard Quarls. One, as told by his great-granddaughter, Mary Crockett, is that of a slave who accompanied his master’s son to war. Ms. Crockett’s account, passed through her family, is clear about his status and role in the war, recounting that “when the master’s son got shot, and fell, [Quarls] picked up the gun, started firing the gun, and defending him while he laid on the ground.” The son is identified here as H. Middleton Quarles, who was killed in fighting at Maryland Gap, Maryland on September 13, 1862. It may have been in that action that Richard Quarls picked up Private Quarles’ rifle. There’s no reason to doubt Ms. Crockett’s account of her great-grandfather’s experience although, as always, family reminiscences are invariably subject to the vagaries of oral traditions passed from one generation to the next.

The second narrative is that overlaid by the SCV, which “discovered” Quarls’ military service and sponsored the headstone and memorial service. This second narrative is largely reflected in the dialogue of the news report, which is sprinkled with dramatic-sounding but vague phrases that blur the distinction between soldier and servant, slave and free. We are cautioned that “historians disagree about their numbers and how they served,” but also assured that “he may have been a servant and rifleman.” It’s suggested that he may have fought in thirty-three battles, and the viewer is told that at the end of the war Quarls was “honorably discharged.” It’s an impressive story to a general audience, but the historian immediately notices that there are very, very few specific facts presented that can be cross-checked against primary sources.

As noted in the video clip, the key element in identifying Quarls’ supposed service as a soldier is his pension record from the State of Florida (10MB PDF). The pitfalls of working with Confederate pension records have beendiscussed in detail elsewhere, and generally speaking, are less than fully-reliable in determining an individual’s status in 1861-65. They are particularly problematic on the case of Richard Quarls, and actually raise more questions about his wartime service than they answer.

Quarls applied for a pension in Pinellas County, Florida on July 10, 1916. On the first page of the application, he claims that he enlisted in Company K, 7th South Carolina Infantry, at Camp Butler, South Carolina, sometime in 1861. He gives his name upon enlistment as Richard Quarls. He claims to have been discharged in 1865 “near Richmond” Virginia, in 1865, on account of “Lee’s surrender.” The inference is that Quarls served almost the entire war with the 7th South Carolina Infantry. Quarl’s service claims were attested to by two witnesses, T. B. and O. W. Lanier. Both testified to have known Quarls during the war, affirmed his membership in the unit, and that they witnessed his full service as described in the application. These basic elements of his record during the war, claimed on the initial application, appear to have been accepted without question by the SCV, and form the wartime history of Richard Quarls that is now repeated as historic fact, his story being picked up by even non-Civil War authors, including Ann Coulter. (Coulter says Quarls’ grave was unmarked before the installation of the SCV’s stone, which is not true.) In fact, those self-same pension records cast serious doubt on much of what is “known” about Richard Quarls’ service during the Civil War.

Quarls’ initial pension application was dated July 10, 1916 (Page 6). The application was passed along by the state to the U.S. War Department for verification, which replied in mid-November that no one named “Richard Quarls” could be found either on the rolls of the 7th South Carolina, nor on the rolls “of any of S.C. C.S.A. Organizations” (Page 24). The letter did note, however, that a man named J. R. Quarles was listed as having enlisted in Co. K of the regiment. This J. R. Quarles, the letter noted, did not appear on regimental rolls after December 1861.

The local pension board passed this information along to Quarls in March 1917 (Page 25), with the additional information that neither of his two original affiants, T. B. and O. W. Lanier, could be witnesses to Quarls’ claimed service through the end of the war, as T. B. had been discharged in 1862 after the loss of an arm, and O. W. had been paroled at Greensboro, North Carolina in May 1865, apparently undermining Quarls’ claim to have been released near Richmond. The letter ended,

One of your witnesses is shown by the official records to have been discharged in 1862 on account of amputation of [his] arm. The other witness is shown to have been parolled at Greensboro at [the] Close of [the] War. Both your witnesses claim you were discharged near Richmond, while one of them was discharged in 1862, and the other at Greensboro. It will be necessary for you to show by affidavits of comrades who have personal knowledge of the facts that you were discharged at the close of the war. Also advise as to the name shown by record received from [the] War Department [i.e., J. R. Quarls] and to [the] reason your name is not shown on same. There are rolls of the Company and Regiment to May and June 1864, but your name is not shown on any of them; however, you claim to have enlisted in 1861.

There’s no record of how (or if) Quarls responded to the pension board’s challenge of the Laniers’ affidavits. But in July 1917 Quarls, or someone working on his behalf, obtained a notarized statement (Page 21) from one Wilson Farris, who swore

that he has known Richard Quarrels all his life — knew him while he was in the Confederate Army serving in the 7th South Carolina Regiment and knows him to be the same person whose name appears on the Muster Roll at Washington, DC as J. R. Quarrels [sic.].

Who Wilson Farris was is unknown; no one of that name appears on the rolls of the 7th South Carolina, so it’s not clear how he would have been in position to attest to Richard Quarls’ service through the war. Nonetheless, his sworn statement seems to have done the trick; it confirmed Quarls’ service and affirmed that he was, in fact, the J. R. Quarles located in the rolls at the War Department. Richard Quarls’ pension was approved on August 25, 1917 (Page 13), at the rate of $180 annually.

Quarls collected this pension until his death in 1925. His widow, Mary Quarls, continued to collect a widow’s pension for another twenty-six years until her own death in 1951.

But that pension had been awarded based on the applicant’s identification as J. R. Quarles. And that man had been dead and buried for half a century before Richard Quarls ever applied for a pension.

J. Richard Quarles enlisted in the 7th South Carolina Volunteer Infantry on October 5, 1861, for a 12-month term. J. Richard Quarles appears to have been the older brother of H. Middleton Quarles, Richard Quarls’ reported master. His service record (19MB PDF) shows he was admitted to Chimborazo Hospital No. 4 in Richmond on March 30, 1862, suffering from catarrh and pneumonia. His condition upon admission was noted as “feeble,” and that he had been sick in camp for two or three weeks previous. After lingering almost a week, Private Quarles died of pneumonia on April 5, 1862.

Memorandum certifying the death of Private J. Richard Quarles on April 5, 1862 at Richmond, signed by 1st Lt. Jiles M. Berry, commanding Co. K, and countersigned by Major John Stewart Hard, Commanding the 7th South Carolina Volunteer Infantry. The memorandum notes that Quarles was owed back pay from November 1, 1861 through the date of his death, along with a $25 commutation for clothing. Other documents in Quarles’ file note that these monies, totaling $81.83, were to be paid to his mother, Mary A. Fuller, of Edgefield, South Carolina. Via Footnote.

Recall that, in the November 1916 letter from the War Department that first mentioned J. R. Quarles in connection to Richard Quarls’ pension application, it was noted that there was no record of the former on regimental rolls after December 1861; this is because Private Quarles was never paid after that date, and he went into the hospital at the end of March 1862. It’s not clear why the War Department never snapped to the fact that J. R. Quarles died during the war.

Make no mistake: I do not believe that Richard Quarls intentionally misrepresented himself in obtaining a Confederate pension; I am not accusing either Richard or Mary Quarls of anything of that sort. I have no reason to believe Quarls intended to misrepresent himself in any way. Nor do I think he ended up getting something he didn’t deserve; in those days before Social Security or general disability pensions, if this pension allowed him and Mary some measure of financial security, that’s all to the good, and I’m glad of it.

But it’s easy to see how this might have happened. Quarls didn’t know how to read or write, or even to sign his own name; he must have relied on friends for assistance in this process — he was apparently well known and widely respected in Tarpon Springs — and it would be easy for a small miscommunication to have a profound difference. There were also at least five men named Quarles or Quarrells in the 7th South Carolina, futher compounding the confusion. I’ve seen no evidence, apart from Wilson Farris’ affidavit, that Richard Quarls ever used the initial J, nor a first name beginning with that letter. I believe that Richard Quarls was the beneficiary of a fortuitous misunderstanding, and a received a Confederate pension based on the military service of his former master’s older brother.

There is also little doubt that, in his later years, Quarls took some measure of pride in his Confederate association with the war, as evidenced by the reunion pin shown in his portraits, similar to this one. A user on Ancestry found the following obituary for Quarls in the Tarpon Springs Leader:

Columbus’s right name was Richard Quaws [sic.], the name of Christopher Columbus being assumed because of previous service that the man had in the Confederate Army under the name of Quaws, and which he thought would probably not meet with the approval of his friends here if they knew it. Nevertheless, his service with the Southern army was well known by all his colored acquaintances here, who thought of great deal of the old man. A few years ago he was taken to the convention of the Confederate Veterans in Washington by a number of veterans who attended from this city. Coming back, he was the proudest man in the colored quarters of the city, as he had seen the great President Wilson.

Columbus, or Quaws, was a slave on a Carolina plantation, at the beginning of the war between the North and South. He was very much attached to his master, and when he was called to the Southern colors, Quaws went, too, and served the duration of the conflict. Since that time he has been on the pension list, upon which he depended for his living, being too old to do anything for his own support. He lived in Tarpon Springs for the past twenty years, and was well known here among both white and colored, who thought a great deal of the old man. The funeral was held yesterday afternoon. His wife asks the Leader to thank all the white friends who have helped her and have sent flowers.

Just as today, in 1925 the distinctions between Quarls’ status as a slave and his agency in making his own, voluntary choices are blurred: “he was very much attached to his master, and when he was called to the Southern colors, Quaws went, too, and served the duration of the conflict.” (Mary Crockett was more explicit, saying “he was forced into the army. . . , so basically he didn’t have much choice but to fight.”)  Whatever his actual beliefs or views it seems clear that, to many in the larger community, in his last years Quarls embodied the “faithful slave” meme so prevalent to the Lost Cause. That symbolism may bear some relation to the other unusual event in Quarls’ story. Ms. Crockett also told how, after his death, Quarls’ widow received a visit from the Ku Klux Klan, in their robes, who bowed before her and held a ceremony in honor of Quarls. The obituary also mentions this event, although doesn’t mention an in-person visit by robed Klansmen:

Yesterday afternoon, his wife was very much surprised to receive a letter bearing the seal of the Ku Klux Klan here from which dropped a check for twenty-five dollars when it was opened. The letter read: “Through sympathy for you and kind feelings toward your deceased husband, Christopher Columbus, this organization desires to extend to you their sympathy and help. We hand you herewith the sum of $25.00 to help defray the burial expenses of your deceased husband. Yours in sympathy, The Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Tarpon Springs.”

It is a complicated story, indeed. While modern Southron Heritage™ folks insist that there’s a bright line between themselves and groups like the Klan — epitomized by the ubiquitous mantra, “heritage, not hate” — it wasn’t always so. In the early years of the 20th century, at the time of what may be considered the Lost Cause high water mark, Confederate veterans’ groups often commemorated the original, Reconstruction-era Klan as a justified, even noble, continuation of the conflict of 1861-65 and published paeans to its memoryMembership in that earlier Klan was noted in old soldiers’ obituaries. The United Daughters of the Confederacy sold “absolutely correct” histories of the Klan (right) to raise funds to build a monument at Jefferson Davis’ home, Beauvior. The Confederate Veteran magazine cheeredD. W. Griffiths’ infamous film Birth of a Nation, as having “done more in a few months’ time to arouse interest in that organization than all the articles written on the subject during the last forty years.” In short, at the very time Richard Quarls was applying for a Confederate pension and attending at least one Confederate reunion, the Reconstruction-era Klan was wholly embraced, lauded, and honored by Confederate veterans’ groups across the South. The memories of Confederate soldiers of 1861-65, and of the Ku Klux Klan during Reconstruction, remained locked arm-in-arm for decades, well into the 20th century.

Why would Confederate veterans embrace Richard Quarls? My guess is that, for them, he embodied the core Lost Cause meme of the “faithful slave,” who remained true to the Confederate cause and his former master for decades after the war. We’ve seen this before, as with R. A. Gwynn (here and here), William SlaughterCrock DavisBill Yopp and many others. That’s not to say that Quarls, Gwynne and the rest were compelled to participate, or didn’t take actual pride in their attendance at Confederate service — Quarls’ obituary is quite explicit about that — but it’s a mistake to assume that there weren’t larger, more subtle cultural and racial currents at work there. A when a new Klan (the so-called “Second KKK“) emerged after 1915, it’s entirely in keeping with their claims (however inaccurate) to be the revitalization of that earlier group that they would embrace a man that they viewed as representing the “correct” role and position of a former slave.

I’ve had the opportunity to dig into the histories of several men who’ve been identified as black Confederate soldiers. When contemporary records are available, the claims made often don’t hold up to close scrutiny. Upon further investigation some cases, like Thomas Tobe of South Carolina, confirm that the man in question served in a non-combatant role. Other examples, like that of James Kemp Holland, are patently wrong. In this case of Richard Quarls, it seems that we can be reasonably certain of several things, including:

  1. Quarls went to war as a slave, the body servant of a white soldier, possibly H. Middleton Quarles. He later claimed to have been in combat, picking up his master’s rifle when the latter was hit.
  2. In 1916, Quarls applied for a Confederate pension from the State of Florida. Florida appears not to have had a pension program for former servants, and Quarls applied using the form for former soldiers.
  3. In response to a query from the local pension board as to whether or not Quarls was the same man as J. R. Quarles, identified in the records, a man named Wilson Farris went to a notary and attested that Richard Quarls was, in fact, the same man.
  4. Having connected the pension applicant Richard Quarls with the service record of Private J. Richard Quarles, and unaware that Pvt. Quarles died in 1862, the State of Florida awarded Richard Quarls a Confederate Soldier’s pension.
  5. In his final years, Richard Quarls took a measure of pride in his Civil War experience, and attended a Confederate veterans’ reunion in Washington, D.C., likely the 1917 U.C.V. event.

Richard Quarls was the fortuitous beneficiary of some unknown clerical mix-up. But its effects have been far-reaching right down to today, almost a century after that error. As a result of that mistake, Richard Quarls’ pension records carry the name of Private J. Richard Quarles, a man who’d already been dead and buried for 50 years. Seventy-five years after Richard Quarls’ own death in Tarpon Springs, the local SCV and UDC camps latched onto those same pension records. In their rush to publicly identify Quarls as a black Confederate soldier, neither group, it seems, bothered pull a copy of the service record of Private J. Richard Quarles – the very man they assumed to be buried in Tarpon Springs – from the National Archives, which would have immediately revealed that the two men were different persons. (I realize that, with websites like Ancestry and Footnote, research of this sort is easier now than ten years ago. Nonetheless, the records were readily available.) As a result, today Richard Quarls today lies under a VA-provided headstone that lists a military rank he did not hold, and a first initial he never had.

It’s a complex story, the life of this man Richard Quarls, more complicated than even Mary Crockett probably imagines.



Contributor: bgill
Created: June 10, 2007 · Modified: October 8, 2011

Start your own page

Only the original contributor of the page can edit this page.