Did Confederate Camp Slaves Kill Their Own?

This is one of the most unusual accounts that I have ever come across about Confederate camp slaves. It is also one that I am struggling with how – if at all – to utilize. The account comes from Battle-Fields of the South: From Bull Run to Fredericksburg. This 2-volume work was published between 1863 and 1864 and written by an “English Combatant.” The writer supposedly served in a Mississippi regiment and saw action in Virginia. His account is supplemented with accounts from other soldiers. [click to continue…]

“There Were NO Racial Problems in the South”

This is part of my ongoing research on the origins and evolution of the myth of the black Confederate soldier. It can be incredibly draining having to read these posts day in an day out. And yes, I have no doubt that these people believe every word of what they share on these sites.

  • I don’t know if former camp slaves attended every Confederate reunion, but few whites were surprised to see them and they were almost always welcomed.
  • The vast majority of these men were former camp slaves. There may have been a few free blacks who hired themselves out to Confederates.
  • There are plenty of accounts of camp slaves who deserted, and, yes, there are also accounts of slaves who were present with the army until the very end.
  • They certainly did return the bodies of their masters home and a few did return to war alongside others.
  • Camp slaves did risk their lives in various ways.
  • They were awarded pensions after the war by former Confederate states.

There is a certain truth to all of this, but if you don’t analyze the evidence in the context of the master-slave relationship and the Confederate army’s shifting policies regarding free and enslaved blacks, than all you have is mush.

And then you have the comments.

If I ever write another book its subject will need to be as far removed from this one as possible. At times this project is just downright depressing.

History Communication in Action

Last week I responded to an op-ed written by Jason Steinhauer, who in recent years has been a passionate advocate for encouraging academic historians and others to embrace the role of History Communicator. Steinhauer recently assumed leadership at the Albert Lepage Center for History in the Public Interest at Villanova University. As I understand it, Steinhauer wants departments to teach and for those already in the field to learn how to effectively engage the general public and share their knowledge through social media and other platforms. [click to continue…]

Who is Colonel Robert Gould Shaw?

The news coming out of the Massachusetts Historical Society here in Boston could not be more exciting. Yesterday the MHS announced that they are in possession of the sword that was carried into battle at Battery Wagner by Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, who commanded the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. Shaw was killed leading his men at Wagner, outside of Charleston, South Carolina on July 18, 1863. His body was buried with his men on Morris Island. [click to continue…]

The Jefferson Davis Presidential Library Has “Books and Books and Books”

This is a short tour of the Jefferson Davis Presidential Library and Museum by one of their librarians. In it she explains the various resources that are at the disposal of researchers and others interested in Davis and the Confederacy. And that’s not all.

After watching this video I think we can all breathe easier that the bulk of the papers of Jefferson Davis are located at Rice University.

[Uploaded to YouTube on July 10, 207]

Arlene Barnum Goes Looking For Black Confederates

Today the South Carolina Secessionist Party held a rally on the Columbia State House grounds to mark the anniversary of the lowering of the Confederate battle flag in the summer of 2015. The group was allowed to raise a battle flag for a few hours, which itself symbolizes the waning influence of the Lost Cause in public life. A Robert E. Lee impersonator was accompanied by Arlene Barnum, who played the role of the loyal slave. [click to continue…]

American Civil War Exceptionalism

There are so many things wrong with this photograph that I don’t know where to start. It sums up perfectly how Americans continue to commemorate and think about their civil war.

This photograph was taken some time during the 2017 Gettysburg reenactment.

[image is from the Gettysburg Times]