Tag Archives: Ed Bearss

Ed Bearss on Black Confederates

Do a Google search for “Black Confederates” and “Ed Bearss” and you will get 675 hits.  No surprise that many of the sites have been created by SCV chapters and others who believe that significant numbers of blacks fought as soldiers in the Confederate army.  Just about all of these sites utilize all or part of the following quote that is attributed to Ed Bearrs, who served as Chief Historian of the National Park Service from 1981 to 1994:

I don’t want to call it a conspiracy to ignore the role of Blacks both above and below the Mason-Dixon line, but it was definitely a tendency that began around 1910.

Unfortunately, I’ve been unable to locate the source of this quote and reliable sources have told me that Bearss has never said anything that would place him in the Black Confederate camp.  While I was not able to find a source for the above quote, I did find this 14 minute video of Bearss that was done for Black History Month.  [Note: You may need to sign in to view the video.]

In it Bearss is asked to discuss the role that blacks played in the Civil War.  What is instructive is what he does not say.  At no time does he suggest that there was any kind of conspiracy surrounding the recognition of black Confederates.  And when he gets to commenting on the Louisiana Native Guard Bearss emphasizes that the first units raised for the defense of Louisiana were never accepted for service in the Confederate army.  Again, decide for yourself, but there is nothing in this video that would suggest that Bearss believes anything close to what these websites attribute to him.