Why the need for “black Confederates?”
I know that there were black soldiers in the Confederate armed forces. For one thing, we have the witness of Frederick Douglass, hardly a shill for the South! For another, we have contemporary evidence validating that fact as well as evidence that many black Union troops were either drafted or otherwise coerced into service on their side. But all of this is irrelevant just as it is irrelevant how many Irish or Germans or Italians served on either side.
What I want to know is, so what! Is the Confederate cause validated by the service of some blacks in the army? Is it made invalid if few or none served other than as servants to white (or black) masters? Are we making a distinction between free blacks and slaves? Does the lack of slaves as soldiers validate arguments that all slaves were miserable and wished their freedom at any cost? Does the presence of blacks in the Southern military validate slavery? Of course not!
In other words, what the hell is all the rumpus about? This topic did not become viral until the revisionists put all their causal eggs in the slavery basket. Then, of course, proof that slaves served the South was simply unthinkable, unimaginable and therefore unacceptable. And we stupidly go along for the ride, validating in our efforts to prove that there were "black Confederates," their claim that slavery was the one and only cause of the war!
But we don’t need "black Confederates" to validate secession or the war. The issues involved included but were not exclusively slavery. Therefore, we no more need to "prove" that blacks served in the Confederate armed forces in order to counter the "all about slavery" claim than we need to "prove" that Lincoln’s claim that the federal government created the States was nonsense; rationality does the job for us.
Finally, I refuse to see black involvement in any way as being critical; it wasn’t. This whole debate has become a sort of historical "affirmative action" as historians try to increase the influence of blacks in the events of the times. Certainly they were an influence, but to make them the influence and to seek to insert a black face in every issue and event is to make far too much of a matter whose real importance is to the political correctness agenda of 2011 rather than the sectional divisions of 1861.
©1995-2011 SWR & SHNV
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