“75,000 Confederates of Color?” on a Billboard

black confederate billboard

This is one of two billboards sponsored by the Missouri Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans that have recently been placed along Missouri highways, one near Kansas City and the other outside of St. Louis. There is something desperate about placing such an advertisement on a large billboard, but it does serve as a wonderful example of how far the SCV is willing to go to defend their preferred narrative of the past and remain relevant.

I love that the claim of “75,000 Confederates of Color” is followed by a question mark.

Answer: NO

‘A Way of Life Built on Black Bodies’

black confederate

The most recent episode of Vice Does America takes viewers to Pointe-aux-Chenes, Louisiana, to meet with Choctaw Native Americans and Jacksonville, Alabama for a Civil War reenactment. The reenactment is well worth watching. It’s begins innocently enough with Abdullah Saeed, Wilbert L. Cooper, and Martina de Alba taking sides and suiting up in their respective uniforms, but things take a sudden turn once Cooper is approached by a Confederate reenactor. [Begin at the 16 minute mark and watch til the end.]

Cooper is asked by the reenactor why he chose the Union group instead of the Confederate, which he claims was integrated and clearly implying that black men fought in the ranks. Cooper’s response directly challenges the underpinnings of the black Confederate narrative. If you want to know what the black Confederate narrative is really about, give it a listen.

It is definitely worth your time.

I Have a Civil War Ancestor!

I have always felt a bit like an outsider compared to those of you who can trace your family’s history back to the Civil War. Thanks to John Stones, who is the “chaplain” for one of the Southern Heritage Facebook groups, today I learned that I have an ancestor who served in the United States army with General William Tecumseh Sherman. I can’t tell you how excited I am to hear that one of my ancestors helped to save this Union, especially given that there is no evidence that my family set foot in this country before 1900.

SHPG

I wonder if I also have a black Confederate ancestor.

General Edmund Kirby Smith, Black Confederate

Edmund Kirby Smith, Black ConfederateLast week the History News Network published a little featurette about Derek Boyd Hankerson, who bills himself as a university lecturer, filmmaker, author, and political operative. He also worked as Donald Trump’s Northeast Florida Field Director. The focus of the piece, however, was on his work as a historian of American slavery and his belief that thousands of black men fought as soldiers in the Confederate army.

Hankerson recently co-authored a book on the subject with Judith Shearer, titled, Belonging: The Civil War’s South We Never Knew. Hankerson likes to point out that the book was published by a division of Simon & Schuster, but fails to note that it just happens to be its self-publishing branch. I briefly engaged the author on Twitter, but failed to get beyond his insistence that I visit St. Augustine, Florida for its rich history. Clearly, living there hasn’t helped Hankerson better understand the past. [click to continue…]

Wartime Accounts of Confederate Camps

black confederate campOne of the larger points that I am trying to make in the first chapter of my black Confederates book is that the war presented a number of challenges to the maintenance of the master-slave relationship. While the expectations and authority of slaveowners may have been well established back home, slaves took full advantage of the opportunities afforded by life in camp, on the march, and even on the battlefield. This new landscape stretched the master-slave dynamic. In some cases it was stretched to the breaking point as slaves chose to run away, but it mostly resulted in masters conceding a certain amount of ground to their camp slaves.

I am trying to provide as rich a description of camp life as possible to help frame this analysis. I have a few descriptions of what a Confederate camp looked like, including its layout, but I was hoping that some of you might be willing to share additional references. The account can be from any point during the war. In fact, it would help immensely if I had a sense of how, if at all, the layout of Confederate camps changed over time. Thanks for your help.