John Tenniel’s Black Confederate

A brief analysis of this cartoon is available here.

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20 comments… add one
  • W.A. Bullard EMC/SW [USN] Ret'd. Jan 21, 2011 @ 12:58

    It’s not a matter of “service records”; that is disingenuous. Generally speaking service records ar an artificial construction of the 20th century There are porobably not any “service records” either for the 10th Tennessee Sons of Erin Volunteers either which is not to say that they did not serve, and which didn’t stop them from lining up and slaughtering their opposite numbers the 69th NewYork at Petersburg either [even their Battle Flags were identical], nor is it anymore to maximize their service in most instances, for in doing that the service of southern whites is in a degree dimninished and minimalized. Historically the largest [80%] of all land force aggregations is non-combatant anyway and are service and combat suppoort; very few actually get in on “the fun”. I am saying simply that they did serve that is all.
    Semper Fortis/Semper Fi

    • Kevin Levin Jan 21, 2011 @ 13:03

      Mr. Bullard,

      I truly appreciate the comments, but you clearly are not familiar with Civil War service records, which are quite extensive for both Union and Confederate armies. I highly recommend that you read Bruce Levine’s recent study, Confederate Emancipation, for an overview of the debate about arming slaves that took place during the war. Thanks again.

    • Andy Hall Jan 21, 2011 @ 17:17

      There are probably not any “service records” either for the 10th Tennessee Sons of Erin Volunteers either. . . .

      The National Park Service’s Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Database includes entries for 2,093 soldiers of the 10th Tennessee Volunteer Infantry, from Lt. Felix W. Abby to Private Daniel Zelly. The microfilmed service record card files from the National Archives include 1,908 different names for the 10th Tennessee, although that number includes a number of alternate name spellings. All of these are available online through Each of these record sets typically consists of 5-15 cards (and sometimes much more) noting enlistment, issuance of pay, hospitalizations, parole documents, PoW transfers, reimbursements, and so on. Many of these record sets are obviously incomplete, especially for the latter part of the war, but here’s the takeaway: for more than a dozen of my own relatives, I’ve found at least a partial service record in every case — every single one.

      Like Kevin, I appreciate your service, but please do familiarize yourself with the resources available. You may be pleasantly surprised how much is actually available, and how easily.

  • W.A. Bullard EMC/SW [USN] Ret'd. Jan 21, 2011 @ 10:36

    I shall state myself at the risk of being previously misunderstood. Please forgive my fat fingers I am not illiterate.
    I am a 36 year veteran oif the USN/MarCorps. combat team, 25 of that at sea with two combat tours in VietNam. I am unabashedly American; I regard that there are only two American flags acceptable to me the “Stars and Stripes” and the Stars on the Cross of Saint Andrew [Stars and Bars] all others currently fashionable do not count. History will judge the war of armed aggression waged by the North. Was Lincoln right? Ultimately I do not and probably no one else will know. What I do know is that as a matter of human behaviour the “winner gets to write the history books”. That is the way”it is”. There was enough right and wrong on bo the sides to go around for an eternity no matter the political opportunists. That said though, the sacrifices of Confederates white and black are now only coming to the fore as the effective end of the 9th and 10th amendments of the Constitution were a foregone conclusion with the ultimate Northern victory of its armed aggreession bringing us to the present milieu. We are now only beginning to understand what they fought for; it is to be noted that the keystone of resistance to current tyrannical Federal intrusions into individual liberty is springing from the South, white and black, and not from heavily urban northern and west coast centers of communicationbs media. The “South shall truely rise
    again” and they shall not have died in vain black an white.

    • Kevin Levin Jan 21, 2011 @ 10:52

      Thank you for your service, Mr. Bullard.

  • W.A. Bullard EMC/SW [USN] Ret'd. Jan 21, 2011 @ 10:12

    It is a matter of historical record that Frederick Douglas remarked on the service to Coinfederate coloras of “men of color”. Douglas would as sonn have goine to jefferson Davis as he would have Lincoln i the interests of “his people” which is quite natural. Lincoln successfully restated the moral terms of the conflict first. When Davis eventually emancipated the blacks the South was already in the terminal stages of its struggel with northern armed aggression, and it would have not made a whit of difference except to prolong the agony fiurther; what limited base of military industrial coimplex that they had, had already been destroyed. POeople laugh about the Confedxerate dollar; it was actually no more worthless than the “Continental” of “four score and seven years ago”. The base that had once had [agriculkture] had been destroyed that might have gauranteed it. As for blacks serving in the Confederate forces that is history undeniable, whether they wre teamsters, cooks, servants, trench diggers and even soldiers is immaterial to the reality that they did serve. If Jefferson Davis had been more clear headed the results would have been drastically different and we would have had an America more as the Framers intended it to be. Nathan Bedford Forrest’s patriotic address to the Independent Order of Pole Bearers attests to that.

    • Kevin Levin Jan 21, 2011 @ 10:51

      Thanks for your comment. I am well aware of the Douglass reference. Unfortunately, it is not a first hand account of the racial profile of the Confederate army. I urge you to find service records of black soldiers in the Confederate army. Let me know if you find any.

  • Craig Aug 27, 2010 @ 19:20

    I never claimed he was a model of veracity. Considering his upbringing it’s a wonder he could spell his own name. Born illegitimate to a respectable middle class household, he must have gleaned some insight into master-servant relations in socially stratified Britain through the orphanage and workhouse education afforded him by his circumstances. Exposure to American notions of social mobility might well have “galvanized” his character, especially after an experience like Shiloh. Most survivors of that battle considered it more than enough excitement for one lifetime. Five years later, with almost no experience as a journalist, he was negotiating an assignment any seasoned reporter would have known better than to pursue. His main credential was his understanding of American race relations during the Civil War and he built his career with the New York Herald by providing what he sensed the Anglo-American newspaper reading public wanted to read. Confederate survivors of Shiloh were fortunate if they lived long enough to collect a pension. Stanley was Queen Victoria.

  • Craig Aug 26, 2010 @ 16:42

    A biography I read said the dispatches he sent from the trenches earned him his spurs as a correspondent. I loaned the book to an Irishman retired from the Royal Navy and never got it back.

    • Ken Noe Aug 27, 2010 @ 3:57

      I looked at Tim Jeal’s biography. The only thing he wrote and published during the war was an account of the bombardment of Fort Fisher, which he sold to “several newspapers” on his own. I did err in counting his desertions–he “galvanized” after being captured at Shiloh, soon deserted from the Union army, went back to England, came back to America, joined the Union Navy, and then deserted from them too.

      • Kevin Levin Aug 27, 2010 @ 3:58

        Wow. I don’t know much of anything about this guy. Sounds like a fascinating story. Thanks again, Ken.

        • Ken Noe Aug 27, 2010 @ 5:45

          “Doctor Livingstone, I presume?”

      • Andy Hall Aug 27, 2010 @ 5:59

        Dude’s an embarrassment to Welshmen (and their descendants) everywhere.

  • Craig Aug 26, 2010 @ 9:02

    Henry Morton Stanley fought on both sides as an embedded reporter for the British press.

    • Ken Noe Aug 26, 2010 @ 10:37

      He fought on (and deserted from) both sides, but not as a reporter, just as a regular Confederate soldier and then Union sailor. He only took up journalism after the war.

  • MississippiLawyer Aug 26, 2010 @ 5:55

    Love that they are both wearing shako’s. How odd. I suppose he was trying to make both of them look as ridiculous as possible. Nobody except a handful of pre-war militia units had shako’s.

    • Kevin Levin Aug 26, 2010 @ 6:01

      Thanks so much for pointing that out.

      • Ken Noe Aug 26, 2010 @ 6:21

        The British Army was still wearing shakos, specifically the 1861 “Quilted” shako. Look at the second headpiece at the top of the linked page; it’s exactly the same as those in the cartoon. The crossed belts are also uniformly British. Tenniel just drew what he and Punch readers in Britain would recognize as a soldier’s uniform.

        • Kevin Levin Aug 26, 2010 @ 6:32

          Thanks Ken.

        • MississippiLawyer Aug 26, 2010 @ 6:36

          I’m a dope. For some reason I completely missed that this was an English cartoon. Yeah, the Shako thing is understandable as well as the white accoutrements.

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