The Black Confederate Soldier
The Patriotist is pleased to be able
to offer this little fact sheet on Black men who served proudly in
the armed forces of the Confederate States of America. While most
of the media chooses to ignore the deeds and accomplishments of minorities
when those deeds and accomplishments don't fit the stereotypical mold,
we gladly fill in the gap by giving this issue its due. Thanks to
Col. Michael Kelly of the 37th Texas Cavalry for providing the bulk
of the information presented here. More facts will be added to this
page as they become available. --LG
"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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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 Michael Kelley, CSA
Commanding, 37th Texas Cavalry [Terrell's]
"We are a band of brothers!"