Explaining the Black Confederate Phenomena

A couple of weeks ago I sat down for a brief chat with the Civil War Monitor’s Katie Brackett Fialka to discuss the myth of the black Confederate soldier. We touched on a number of issues that I am currently working through in my current book project.

Yesterday I shared an update on the status of this book project.

Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth

“Levin’s study is the first of its kind to blueprint and then debunk the mythology of enslaved African Americans who allegedly served voluntarily in behalf of the Confederacy.”–Journal of Southern History

Purchase your copy today!

11 comments… add one
  • Bryan Cheeseboro Mar 16, 2016 @ 3:58

    Years ago, I started a discussion on a forum called “Black Confederates- What’s the Point?” I questioned how necessary was it to place so much emphasis on a minority of soldiers since the South lost the war. I don’t remember anything about that discussion except one person’s comment, which I think sums up so much about this whole debate:

    “I don’t care if there were only a baker’s dozen Black Confederates. I want to know about them!”

    • Kevin Levin Mar 16, 2016 @ 4:03

      Me too.

      • Bryan Cheeseboro Mar 16, 2016 @ 4:28

        Great response. That person’s comment just keeps on giving.

        And for the sake of things, I suppose I’d like to know about them, too.

        • Kevin Levin Mar 16, 2016 @ 4:39

          The problem is that the language clouds a much more interesting and important story. The recent obsession with black soldiers tells is reflective of a more current agenda that would have been incomprehensible to actual Confederates.

          • Bryan Cheeseboro Mar 16, 2016 @ 4:48

            And whatever the real story of Blacks and the Confederate war effort is, the key is to not forget that it goes through slavery. I think the “language” that you speak of is so often those who want to write this history in as something that, like you also said, “would have been incomprehensible to actual Confederates.” Thanks so much for a willingness to find out what the truth really is.

  • Joshism Mar 11, 2016 @ 20:19

    I’m surprised to learn it goes back to the 1970s. I figured the Black Confederates Myth was an internet era invention.

  • Kevin Dally Mar 11, 2016 @ 15:27

    WELL SAID! I just find the terms “Free blacks”, and “Black Confederates” very problematic. They mask over the reality Blacks/Slaves were actually saddled under. “Free Black” gives one the idea that he would have the same “rights” as the White populous, and calling a Black, or Slave in the ranks a “Confederate” gives them a status that didn’t exist. But folk throw these terms around to mask over the truth, a hard job it is to dispel!

  • cagraham Mar 11, 2016 @ 10:10

    Driving trucks?

    This is great stuff. I’ve just picked up a side- side- project here unpacking our local black Confederate, and may need to hit you up for some guidance sometime.

  • Paul Taylor Mar 11, 2016 @ 6:32

    Kevin, excellent. Very enjoyable and illuminating. You mention that the slavery narrative started to change in the late 70s and that was when the SCV started to talk about Black Confederates as a way to counter the change. But why, in your opinion, did they feel the need to counter the new narrative?

    • Kevin Levin Mar 11, 2016 @ 6:38

      Good question. I should have made this point clearer. It’s not simply that museums and historic sites like Monticello and Colonial Williamsburg were focusing more on slavery, but that the service of black Union soldiers was gaining increased attention as well. If you read the correspondence within the SCV it is clear that they were looking for evidence of black service to the Confederacy, including the military. Hope that helps.

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