BLACK SOUTHERNERS IN GRAY
Doctor Lewis Stiener, chief inspector of the United States Army Sanitatary Commission was an eyewitness to the occupation of Frederick, Maryland by Confederate General “Stonewall” Jackson. Doctor Steiner made this observation in 1862 concerning the makeup of the Confederate occupying forces:
“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, States 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, sabres, bowie-knifes, dirks, etc… and were manifestly an integral portion of the Southern Confederate Army.”
Source: E.C. Smith, “Calico, black and grey: Women and blacks in the Confederacy”, Civil War Magazine, vol VIII, No.3, Issue XXIII, p14.”
Captain Arthur L. Fremantle, British Military Observer assigned to Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, was present at the 1863 battle of Gettysburg when he witnessed black confederates escorting northern prisoners of war when he wrote this:
“This episode of a southern slave leading white yankee soldiers through a northern village, alone and of their own accord, would not have been gratifying to an abolitionist … Nor would the sympathizers both in England and in the North feel encouraged if they could hear the language of the detestation and contempt with which the numerous Negroes with southern Armies speak of the liberators.”
Source: A. L. Freemantle, as sited in civil war Quarterly, vol VIII, pp.47,50.
John F. Harris was a black republican representative in the Mississippi State House of Representatives in 1890. While serving in this capacity, he had the opportunity to vote on a resolution to erect a monument to the Confederate soldiers of Mississippi. Harris chose to vote for the resolution and his speech on the house floor is provided below:
“Mr. Speaker! I have arisen here in my place to offer a few words on the bill. I have come from a sick bed … perhaps it was not prudent for me to come. But, sir, I could not rest quietly in my room without … contributing … a few remarks of my own. I was sorry to hear the speech of the young gentleman from Marshall County. I am sorry that any son of a Soldier should go on record as opposed to the erection of a monument in honor of the brave dead. And, Sir, I am convinced that had he seen what I saw at Seven Pines and in the Seven Days’ fighting around Richmond, the Battlefield was covered with the mangled forms of those who fought for their country and for their countries honor, he would not have made that speech.
When the news came that the South had been invaded, those men went forth to fight for what they believed, and they made no requests for monuments. … But they died, and their virtues should be remembered. Sir, I went with them. I too, wore the gray, the same color my master wore. We stayed four long years, and if that war had gone on till now I would have been there yet … I want to honor those brave men who died for their convictions. When my mother died I was a boy. Who, Sir, then acted the part of a mother to the orphaned slave boy, but my ‘old missus’? Were she living now, or could speak to me from those high realms where are gathered the sainted dead, she would tell me to vote for this bill. And, Sir, I shall vote for it. I want it to be known to all the world that my vote is given in favor of the bill to erect a monument in honor of the Confederate dead.”
Source: Reprint from the Daily Clarion Ledger, Jackson, Mississippi, Feb 23, 1890.
Contrast Rep. Harris’ words with those of present day Sen. Carol Mosely Braun on the floor of the senate. Perhaps Sen Braun could use a history lesson.