Regimental History Outline

Black Confederates of Co. F, 33rd Regiment NCST, “Dixie Invincibles”

Robert W. Hester

Lt. Comdr., Camp 1695, Sons of Confederate Veterans
Belhaven, North Carolina
September 11, 1996

As more and better information bobs to the surface concerning the War Between The States, the more we realize the distortions of truth presented in schools for many decades. The prevailing view we find to be absorbed with myth rather than fact. One myth concerns the involvement of Black Southerners in the armies of the Confederacy. That they willfully and enthusiastically supported the Confederate States is simply inconceivable to most Americans

Recently several publications have given proof of the loyalty to the Confederate Cause of tens of thousands of Black Southerners. Due to the fact Blacks were “unofficial” participants in the Southern Armies, records of their actions are difficult to find.

Recently Camp (1695) Commander S.D.Latham provided me copies of some original purchase sheets of food and clothing for the “Dixie Invincibles” by Captain Thomas Mayhew. The time period is from August 30, 1861 to September 14, 1861 and lists 49 soldiers of Co. F receiving various items such as pants, shoes, caps, and so on. From the enlistment roster we know that 96 men officially enlisted in Co. F at Middletown, Hyde Co., N.C. on September 9, 1861. The outfitting of the balance of the enlisted company probably occurred on other dates, or the men reported with their own uniforms. I compared the 49 soldiers receiving clothing with the enlistment roster and found 3 of the 49 not present on the roster, even though we know them to be present at the time. Also, there occurs small “x’s” to the left side of their names. Why were they not a part of the official roster?

The 3 were John Collins, Benjamin Mackey, and Boy John. I believe it can be fairly ascertained that Boy John was an indentured servant or slave. I immediately recognized the Collins and Mackey names to be of Hyde County Blacks of Indian decent.

From the author’s attached photocopy of “Hyde History:”

“Little is known about the Indians who lived at Mattamuskeet from 1761 to 1792. The Squires family probably left the area during that time, and the Russell surname disappeared as well. It is known that at least part of the group maintained their residence in the Mattamuskeet area during that period since the county records contain yet another deed for the sale of the entire reservation that was drawn in 1792. The Mackey and Longtom surnames were represented in the 1792 deed, but it is apparent that adult males were either not present in the group at that time or for some reason did not sign the deed. Seven individuals signed the 1792 deed. Three of these were Mackeys and four Longtons. The two males who signed the deed were apparently children.

“The descendants of the Mattamuskeets in Hyde County appear to have lost their identity during the nineteenth century. At least some inter-mixture with both blacks and whites took place at that time. Their loss of identity was accelerated by a policy of their children during the last thirty years before the Civil War. The Mattamuskeet descendants at that time were not slaves. They were classified as “free persons of color.” Mass indenture of “Free persons of color” began in 1830. Under this policy children were bound to white planters until the age twenty-one to be farmers or laborers. Children were bound at a young age. One was apprenticed at the age of eighteen months.

“A few members of the Indian Mackey family remain in the county, and the Chance, Barber, and Collins families can claim partial descent from Hyde County Indians.”

John Collins and Benjamin Mackey could have been indentured servants, but were most likely free persons of color. This can be researched, but my assumption is based on the fact that in the early part of the war those wealthy enough to have servants or slaves most likely outfitted them. It is also likely that many other Blacks served with the “Dixie Invincibles,” and were present in September 1861 but were provided clothing by their masters. Likewise, many of the wealthier “free persons of color” were outfitted by their families. Later in the war uniforms were primarily provided at the front by the State of North Carolina.

In the case of these three Black Confederates it is significant that they were provided with identical clothing provided the white Confederates. Other than the “x” by their names, there appears to be no difference.

Editor’s note: Oral history of the region indicates, during so-called “Reconstruction,” peroled Confederates burned whole courthouses filled with war records to eradicate official accounts of the service of bodyservants, slaves, freemen and other non-Europeans to the Confederacy. This was done to facilitate “Freeman’s Bureau” benefits, the legendary “Forty Acres and a Mule,” which was forbidden to ex-slaves who had given “aid and comfort” to the crushed “Rebellion” in the slave States. Among Anglo families of the region tentative but enduring relationships were forged between the families of ex-slaves and the descendants of master. Most of the latter acknowledge openly that their ancestors might surely have starved were it not for the generous aid (some re-directed Federal “benefits”) meant for former chattel.

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