Arden Wells Falls for Black Confederate Myth

Arden Wells is running for the U.S. Senate in Louisiana. In this short video he addresses the Confederate monument debate in New Orleans. Wells supports maintaining the monuments in their current locations owing to their status as landmarks and as popular tourist destinations. He appears to understand that many African Americans find them offensive, but Wells believes that whites have the right to celebrate their heritage.

Rather than remove these monuments Wells suggests adding a monument to the Louisiana Native Guard, which was organized early on in the war by the city’s free black and creole population. Unfortunately, from here Wells’s analysis goes off the deep end when he notes that these men fought for the Confederacy. According to Wells, “very few people wish to acknowledge that there were black Confederates.” I have no idea what documents Wells is looking, but the Louisiana Native Guard was never accepted for service in the Confederate army and many of these same men ended up fighting for the United States.

I am not sure how serious a candidate Mr. Wells is given that he does not have a website and given his 2010 disbarment by the Louisiana Supreme Court. It looks like he is running his campaign from a YouTube page.

40 comments… add one
  • Greg Aug 3, 2016

    He’s kidding right ? For a man that was a Supreme Court judge in Louisiana, he really has his history all screwed up.

    • Mark Pethke Aug 4, 2016

      He was not a Louisiana Supreme Court justice, nor has he ever been close. He was disbarred at the order of the Court, which has the final say in attorney disciplinary matters.

  • Scott Ledridge Aug 3, 2016

    Maybe he’s drinking that Icee straight.

    What he’s reading probably doesn’t go on to explain the rest of their story. Or he didn’t care to read further.

    • Kevin Levin Aug 3, 2016

      I thought it was the Wikipedia, but it does go on to not that these men never served in the Confederate army. He looked confused throughout, which suggests that whatever he had in hand, he didn’t read it thoroughly before making the video.

  • Greg Aug 3, 2016

    He’s running for public office so therefore, he’s trying to please both blacks and whites. Even if it isn’t true.

  • bob carey Aug 3, 2016

    If I didn’t read the post beforehand and just looked at the video I would say that it was a SNL segment. You wouldn’t think this guy has a shot at winning, but then again look at the Republican nominee for President.

  • Ken Noe Aug 3, 2016

    I see he qualified as Arden “Dixiecrat” Wells, so there’s that. There’s also the Icee placement.

  • RUDOLPH  YOUNG Aug 3, 2016

    Cultura
    Insist that your politicians promote respect for American diversity and the confusion caused by past sins and since 2008 will will be wiped out,eventually .
    The Time of the End ,get real

    • Kristoffer Aug 3, 2016

      What?

  • bob carey Aug 4, 2016

    Andy,
    It seems Duke runs for something every November, I wish he would just go away.

  • Bryan Cheeseboro Aug 4, 2016

    I just had a researcher here at the Archives point out to me that there are CS Service Records for the Louisiana Native Guard. I knew that they were rejected by the Confederacy as soldiers but what about their CMSRs?

    • Kevin Levin Aug 4, 2016

      Please follow up. Would love to hear more.

      • Bryan Cheeseboro Aug 4, 2016

        Teresa Roane, formerly employed by the Museum of the Confederacy, has posted a whole bunch of service records on the Confederate Memorial Institute page on Facebook of men identified as Black but a lot of the service is musician and cook, as I recall.

        • Bryan Cheeseboro Aug 4, 2016

          BTW I don’t know if there are specific service records for the LNG in the Confederate military.

        • Kevin Levin Aug 4, 2016

          Thanks, Bryan.

        • Andy Hall Aug 4, 2016

          Ms. Roane posts those to other Facebook groups, as well. She also posts a lot of editorial-style excerpts from the old Confederate Veteran magazine and similar sources.

          What she hasn’t done, which I find disappointing for someone in her position and with her background, is offer any discussion or analysis of the material she posts. As always, the goal seems to be to show that there were Black Confederates, without digging any deeper than making a list of names. It’s research, if you want to call it that, that’s a mile wide and an inch deep.

          • Kevin Levin Aug 4, 2016

            She was kind enough to send along materials from the Museum of the Confederacy when she was employed there. Unfortunately, her “research” for the UDC and other groups does little more than reinforce their preferred narrative and a number of outright myths.

          • Bryan Cheeseboro Aug 4, 2016

            “What she hasn’t done, which I find disappointing for someone in her position and with her background, is offer any discussion or analysis of the material she posts.”

            It’s like she just tosses stuff out there for people to make whatever they want to out of it…. which, of course, inevitably happens. Thanks for posting, Andy.

            • Andy Hall Aug 4, 2016

              “It’s like she just tosses stuff out there for people to make whatever they want to out of it.”

              That’s how it goes. The Confederate heritage approach to this subject tends to be pretty superficial, and simply saying “look, another Black Confederate!” serves the purpose just fine. Because the entire point of the exercise is to recast slavery and the position of African Americans within the Confederacy in a way that is consistent with the larger, Lost Cause narrative.

              As Kevin has pointed out previously, the modern Black Confederate narrative came about as a reaction to shifts in society (e.g., the Civil Rights Movement), and (in particular) popular culture depictions African Americans in the 19th century, in particular the original Roots in 1977, and Glory in 1989. Those had a profound influence on the way the general public viewed both the antebellum South and the Civil War. The solution adopted by Confederate heritage groups was to take what actual Confederates referred to as “faithful servants,” loyal to their owners, and re-imagine them as patriotic soldiers, standing foursquare and co-equal with their white neighbors to defend hearth and home. It’s a pleasant (and self-affirming) story to tell, but it only works when viewed from a distance.

              • Bryan Cheeseboro Aug 5, 2016

                “The solution adopted by Confederate heritage groups was to take what actual Confederates referred to as “faithful servants,” loyal to their owners, and re-imagine them as patriotic soldiers, standing foursquare and co-equal with their white neighbors to defend hearth and home. ”

                Recently, I had a conversation with a friend about this imagery. While I wouldn’t call him a neo-Confederate (he is a conservative libertarian), he still believes it was’t about slavery, even though I’ve shown him documentation to the contrary. Anyway, in our conversation, he thought it was very possible that somewhere in the South, a free Black man who owned property took up arms and stood his ground against a invading Yankee army. While I supposed that could have happened, I told him I don’t know of any particular stories.

                Our conversation prompted me to show him some of the research I did on a photograph of USCT soldiers. It’s a photo of men from various regiments taken at L’Ouverture General Hospital in Alexandria, Virginia, sometime after the Battle of the Crater.

                http://civilwartalk.com/threads/great-picture-of-usct-unit-with-musicians.123718/

                This is a truly amazing photograph because 1) I don’t know of any other featuring men from a bunch of different regiments; and 2) all of the men are identified. Their names were written down at the bottom of the white picture frame a long time ago. So I went on Fold3 and looked them all up and found their service records. I showed this to my friend, the same one who believes in the possibility of a Black man fighting against Yankee invaders. His response?

                “Well, [the records] could be fake.”

                That is amazing that someone wants to believe a story where he doesn’t have a name, a place, a face or a record of events; but he questions the evidence he sees right in front of him. So ridiculous.

              • Kevin Levin Aug 5, 2016

                Anyway, in our conversation, he thought it was very possible that somewhere in the South, a free Black man who owned property took up arms and stood his ground against a invading Yankee army.

                I have no doubt that such cases exist, but to the extent that we can say anything about individual cases, it tells us much more about the dynamics of an individual regiment/company than anything about the Confederacy and the enlistment of blacks as soldiers.

                I am not surprised that he suggested the evidence might be “fake.”

              • Bryan Cheeseboro Aug 5, 2016

                I would not be surprised to know a case of a Black man opposing Union soldiers exists, either. But in a case like that, it really feels like it’s much more self-serving opposition than any kind of allegiance to the Confederacy.

              • James Simcoe Aug 6, 2016

                These are men from Ferrerro’s 9th Corp Division. Veterans of the Crater. William DeGraff was at New Market Heights…unless they are replacements for fallen as the photo dates from Dec. 1864 to 1865, after those actions.

    • James Simcoe Aug 6, 2016

      Bryan, There is a 2009 title by Donald Frazier, ‘Fire in the Cane Fields’ that goes in-depth on the west-Mississippi front: The Guards, civilian experience, the nasty partisan war. The author has a few other books out and more out and more to come in this specific series that will extend from 1861-1863 (the aforementioned) to the end of the war.

  • Patrick Jennings Aug 4, 2016

    I love local politics. No matter where you are, north, south, east, or west local politics is a magnet for crazy people!

  • l Aug 4, 2016

    As far as I understand it, which may not be all that far, the LNG were mobilised by the governor of La but not mustered into the Confederate army. However they were deployed in the defence of New Orleans, when they went over to the Union en masse at the first opportunity. Never saw that one coming. They were subsequently mustered into the Union army.
    A rather subtle point was that apparently mustering the LNG into the Union army didn’t establish any precedent as they had already been mobilised by the state of La.

    • BPS Aug 4, 2016

      ” However they were deployed in the defence of New Orleans, when they went over to the Union en masse at the first opportunity.”
      Not true, 1. Since they were never mustered into the Confederate army, they were left to fend for themselves when the all the Confederate Army (i.e. fully mustered state militia) units left the city when Admiral Farragut arrived. A Louisiana state law had been passed in January 1862 making only white men eligible for enlistment. Farragut arrived in April 1862.
      Only 10% of the original members of the native guard mustered into Union Army’s 1st Louisiana Native Guard, organized by Gen. Ben Butler in Sept 1862. Most of the previous members who refused to join the new regiment were prosperous members of the New Orleans and South Louisiana middle class and/or slave owners who philosophically sided with the Confederacy.

  • Ken Noe Aug 4, 2016

    In related news, it looks like one of Donald Trump’s lead campaign officials in Florida–now in Wisconsin trying to help defeat Paul Ryan–is also a “Black Confederates” author and advocate: http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/163533

    • Kevin Levin Aug 4, 2016

      Yes, I read this the other day. When I pointed out to him that the cover of his book shows a slave he responded by inviting me to St. Augustine, Fla.

  • Andy Hall Aug 4, 2016

    The LNG were never deployed in the defense of New Orleans in any meaningful way, and had not even been issued a full complement of weapons before they were disbanded. As BPS points out, they were not rolled into the Confederate national army, and in early 1862 the Louisiana legislature rewrote the militia law to exclude non-white men, effectively dissolving the unit. Even so, when Farragut threatened New Orleans some weeks later, they offered their service to the state, and were declined.

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