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Black Confederate Soldiers

Introduction

There were Black Confederate soldiers. This is a fact, not fiction. Conservative estimates state that over 50,000 African-Confederates served in the Confederate Army. Many of these men saw combat and participated in it. Some died.

Although the Confederate Congress did not authorize Colored Units in the Confederate Army until 1865, when it was too late, there were many unofficial soldiers overlooked by officers who were desperate to fill the ranks so quickly dwindling. Also, many individual Southern states authorized colored militia units. For example, Alabama in 1862.

Some would ask, "Why would they serve; why would they fight?" They served and fought for the same reasons as their white counterparts. They felt that the South was their home, too. Whether slave or free, each had a stake in the society and each had a home they felt endeared to. For example, many Charleston negroes actually cheered at the possibility that they would be able to shoot Yankees shortly after the outbreak of War. (1)

African-Confederates not only offered their services as soldiers but also as laborers. Many colored communities took up collections for the Confederate War Effort. Even individual negroes, both free and slave, contributed their money for the Confederate Government.

The African-Confederate went to War for the South as body servants, teamsters, laborers, and even soldiers. Many saw action. Some were wounded and some were killed in defense of the South. Most were loyal and cared for their master with whom they went to war. Many cases tell of a body servant removing a wounded soldier to the surgeon or taking the body of a fallen soldier home for proper burial.

Their efforts remain largely forgotten as it does not fit into the well defined roles of the different races. It also causes the mold of the North as liberator and the South as an enslaver to crack just a little.

Individual African-Confederate Soldiers

(Partial List)

James Russell (2)
Free man of color, Cook for Company C, 24th South Carolina Volunteer Infantry
Killed in action at Missionary Ridge on November 25, 1863

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Louis Napoleon Nelson (3)
Free man of color, Private, 7th Tennessee Cavalry (under General Forrest).
Fought at Shiloh, Lookout Mountain, Brice's Crossing, and Vicksburg.
Survived the war.

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Charles F. Lutz (4)
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

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John Wilson Buckner (5)
Free man of color, Private, 1st South Carolina Artillery
Wounded on July 12, 1863 defending Battery Wagner against the 54th Mass. Infantry.

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James Young (6)
Status Unknown, Private, Company K, 29th Alabama Infantry.
Survived the War.

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Jean Baptiste Pierre-Auguste (7)
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.

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William Colen Revels (8)
Status unknown, Private, 21st North Carolina Infantry.
Wounded at Winchester and Gettysburg.
Survival of War Unknown.

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Silas Chandler (9)
Former Slave and Free Man of Color , Body Servant, 44th Mississippi Infantry.
Survived the War.

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Eli Dempsey (10)
Status Unknown, Private, 1st North Carolina Artillery
POW 1862-1864.
Survived the War.

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John Parker (11)
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. (12)

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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. (13)

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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. (14)

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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. (15)

African-Confederate Units

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. (16)

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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. (17)

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The 1st Louisiana Regiment of Native Guards was a military unit composed of free black men. They were organized in 1861 and early 1862. (18)

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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.

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On The Web: http://www.civilwarhistory.com/_/blacks/Black%20Confederates.htm