It’s Time for The Root To Issue a Correction

At some point the staff at The Root must acknowledge the fact their own website is responsible for advancing the myth of the black Confederate soldier. Their own staff writers appear to be completely unaware of this fact. Yesterday Michael Harriot took the time to respond to reader emails, specifically those written by “white people” who he believes “are born with an extra gland that secretes the ‘let me speak to your manager’ hormone.”

Harriot was clearly upset with one particular reader, who reminded a fellow staff writer in response to a piece on the Confederate battle flag that, “There were black soldiers that fought for the north AND the south. Would you topple a monument to black confederate soldiers?” He prefaced his response with the following: “First I’d like to thank you for writing the letter that served as the inspiration for my short, one-act play, The Caucasity of Dopes. I am currently working on finishing the final draft, but because you have unwittingly become my muse, I would like to offer you a sneak preview[.]”

Please allow me to explain the Civil War and the Confederate flag with an explanation that goes against every historical document, including the fact that there were no black Confederate soldiers[.]

Included in this response is a link to a recent piece by Ben Alpers that briefly explores the subject. This is all fine and good. I am always encouraged when I see this myth called out for what it is, but there is one small problem here.

Despite Harriot’s attempt to frame the black Confederate narrative as something embraced by stupid white people, he seems completely unaware that his own publication is responsible for advancing this myth.

John Stauffer’s 2015 essay, “Yes, There Were Black Confederate Soldiers. Here’s Why” continues to be cited within the neo-Confederate community and beyond by people who are sincerely interested in this subject. And why wouldn’t they cite it. After all, it was authored by a well-respected Harvard scholar.

In it, Stauffer argues “that between 3,000 and 6,000 served as Confederate soldiers” without offering any evidence substantiating this claim. There are numerous problems with this essay beyond this specific claim, including his interpretation of specific sources and overall understanding of how the Confederate government utilized slave labor and free blacks over the course of the war.

It’s time for The Root to take a stand and issue a correction to Stuaffer’s essay. Regardless of their best intentions, writers like Michael Harriot look silly and even hypocritical when they accuse others of stupidity and yet are unaware that their own publication is responsible for fueling these very same misconceptions about the Civil War.

Enough already.

8 thoughts on “It’s Time for The Root To Issue a Correction

  1. Michael Furlan

    No one has ever been able to name even one Black Confederate Soldier, but many people are sure that there were thousands.

    That goes for the actual Black Confederate Soldiers authorized under General Orders, No. 14. Maybe the records exist, but I’ve never seen even one of those soldiers named.

    Reply
    1. Kevin Levin Post author

      Well, John Stauffer claims there are thousands. I would love to see his evidence, but until that point it is clear to me that The Root is pushing the myth of the black Confederate soldier.

      Reply
  2. andersonh1

    “No one has ever been able to name even one Black Confederate Soldier”

    Arthur Bergeron has said that he has been able to document fifteen free blacks who volunteered for and served in regular Confederate units as privates. Among them were Charles Lutz, Jean Baptiste Pierre-Auguste and Lufroy Pierre-Auguste. According to him, “three of the first twelve fought in several battles, and two of the three received wounds.” Source: Louisianans in the Civil War, edited by Lawrence Hewitt and Arthur W. Bergeron.

    Reply
  3. Michael Furlan

    “Arthur Bergeron has said that he has been able to document fifteen free blacks who volunteered for and served in regular Confederate units as privates.”

    Here are his own words, See Arthur W. Bergeron, Jr., “Free Men of Color in Grey,” Civil War History, Vol XXXII, No. 3, Sept, 1986, pp. 247-255.

    Lutz; “probably. . .passed for white.”
    Jean Baptiste Pierre-Auguste: “detailed as a cook”
    Lufroy Pierre-Auguste: “as ‘a colored man,’ Lufroy was excluded from
    the provision of the draft law. He went home. . .”
    Evariste Guillory, Sr and Jr.: Home Guard, “. . .they sometimes acted
    as drovers gathering cattle for the army in the field.”
    Jacques Esclavon: “teamster and company cook”
    Perot bros. and Grappe: “enrolled. . .under provisions of an order
    calling for conscription as laborers of free men of color.”
    Jesse and William Gardner, Sylvester Perez, Ambroise Lebrun:
    “If any of them remained in Captain Love’s company after the
    controversy of October 1864, none received a parole at the end of the
    war.”

    None of these men were given the honor that they deserved of being recognized as a soldier in the Army of the CSA.

    There were actual black Confederate Soldiers raised at the end of the War, but nobody can name even on of those either.

    Reply
    1. andersonh1

      “There were actual black Confederate Soldiers raised at the end of the War, but nobody can name even on of those either.”

      The evening times. (Washington, D.C.) 1895-1902, November 21, 1902 names one, though whether it’s his first name or last I don’t know. “Cox, a colored plasterer, who was a sergeant in this company, is still living.” Cox had objected to a newspaper report naming Holt Collier as the only black man ever enlisted in the Confederate army.

      Reply
      1. Kevin Levin Post author

        I would be very cautious about citing a 1902 newspaper article as sufficient evidence that a black man rose to the rank of sergeant in the Confederate army.

        Reply
  4. Mike Furlan

    Thanks for the information on “Cox”. I wish there was more.
    Holt Collier, on the other hand, was a black mascot of the Confederate Army, not enrolled as a soldier.
    Nobody is doubting that he was a very competent fighting man, who wanted to be accepted by the CSA.
    But like Jackie Robinson, before he was called up to the major league, ability and desire meant nothing to a white supremacist organization.

    Reply

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