Exploring Black Confederate Websites: Black Confederate Soldiers

For my second installment in this series I thought we would take a quick look at Ann DeWitt’s Black Confederate Soldiers site.  It’s one of the more recent sites to appear and it is growing in popularity.  Feel free to suggest websites that might be worth exploring at a later date. I apologize for the sound quality. I am still playing around with a couple of programs so hopefully things will improve.

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14 comments… add one
  • Woodrowfan Feb 5, 2011 @ 17:58

    A good review, but you’re far, far kinder to DeWitt that I would be.

    • Kevin Levin Feb 5, 2011 @ 18:02

      What else could I do given the fact that she doesn’t know the first thing about the historical method. Unfortunately, her interest in reconciliation between the races comes at the price of distorting the history.

  • Corey Meyer Feb 5, 2011 @ 15:15


    Suggestion for future video…no need to post.

    • Kevin Levin Feb 5, 2011 @ 15:18

      That’s a reasonable suggestion, but I want to stay away from blog sites for now.

      • Arleigh Birchler Feb 5, 2011 @ 15:34

        I see this phrase, which tends to be at the heart of the discussion:

        “African Americans who served with the Confederate States Army”

        If one interprets that as being duly enlisted, trained, uniformed, and armed it carries a total different meaning then if one thinks about the fact that a servant serves. Most of the heat in the discussion seems to be about what the other side thinks these words mean.

        I am coming to believe that Kevin might be able to take a scholarly position in researching and documenting: “African Americans who served with the Confederate States Army”. Their story is worthy of being told without a lot of hyperbole, or propaganda for one side or the other.

        • Kevin Levin Feb 5, 2011 @ 15:40

          This is a very common reference and one that obscures more than it reveals. In normal conversation we reserve the word, ‘served’ for men and women who either volunteered or were drafted into the U.S. Army. Unfortunately, the concept is loosely applied to a whole host of cases and this tends to collapse certain key distinctions in this particular debate between men who served as soldiers and slaves who did not. We might argue that a slave served his master, but we are less likely to suggest that a slave served on the plantation or farm.

          As to your last point, I am in the beginning stages of doing just that. Stay tuned.

  • Michael Lynch Feb 5, 2011 @ 13:07

    I’m enjoying this series of posts. I think you’re doing a real service here, because the websites you’re examining are the sources of a lot of the information (and misinformation) floating around out there.

    I was surprised to find copies of DeWitt’s book for sale at a NPS bookstore not long ago. There were a lot of surprisingly specific references to the history of the area where some scenes took place, but at the same time some of the descriptions of larger themes like race and slavery seemed really off-base. It was a very odd juxtaposition of accurate detail and inaccurate context.

    I discussed this in a post and referred to some of the questions you and Andy had raised about the book’s interpretive problems, and some lady left a comment accusing me of “progressivism” simply because I’d mentioned you guys. Apparently the mere invocation of your names is enough to prove that one is an agenda-driven leftist. It was one of the most bizarre reader reactions I’ve gotten so far.


    • Kevin Levin Feb 5, 2011 @ 13:12

      Thanks so much for the positive feedback. I am sorry to hear that DeWitt’s book was being sold in an NPS bookstore. Unfortunately, there are some weak spots within the NPS, which I have addressed on two occasions on this site. It’s nice to hear that there is at least one redeeming quality to Entangled In Freedom, but overall it’s an interpretive nightmare.

    • Arleigh Birchler Feb 5, 2011 @ 14:10

      Yes, I am sure that admitting you know Kevin Levin is a bad idea. Just don’t tell anyone you know me and you might be okay.

  • Andy Hall Feb 5, 2011 @ 11:27

    That photo DeWitt counterposes with the modern-day military cook is of Union non-combatabts, labeled by the National Archive as “Bermuda Hundred, Va. African-American teamsters near the signal tower.

  • Arleigh Birchler Feb 5, 2011 @ 10:22

    Been watching and listening to your video. I agree with you that there are great faults with the “scholarship” in these sort of sites. Why not make a better one?

    • Kevin Levin Feb 5, 2011 @ 10:23

      Stay tuned, Arleigh.

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