“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

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110 comments… add one
  • Marc Nov 6, 2016 @ 6:35

    In the 1860 census there were more than 250,000 free blacks in the south. In the New Orleans newspaper in 1861 it reports that more than 2000 free black men formed companies and their service was offered and accepted by the governor. There are numerous official reports by Union officers of facing confederate forces with black soldiers integrated in the ranks.

    So what honest study of this subject have you done to answer this question?

    Civil War Trust records that virtually every man of eligible age served in the confederate army, which was 17 to 51 in 1864. There were likely more than 75,000 free black men in that age range,the billboard says Confederates of Color, not Blacks.

    The entire Cherokee nation joined with the confederacy, not to mention the other four civilized tribes.

    Considering about 1 million men served in the confederate army, these facts support a number larger than 75,000 men of color and likely even blacks.

    I encourage the author of this post to set aside his prejudices and honest research history before being so quick to answer.

    • Kevin Levin Nov 6, 2016 @ 6:40

      Nothing in your comment points to black men serving as soldiers in the Confederate army before March 1865. Thanks for taking the time to comment on my blog.

      • zilbermints Nov 6, 2016 @ 16:53

        The Official Records of Union and Confederate Armies, first published in early 1900s, have a lot of info about blacks serving in Confederate armies in various roles. They were pilots, cooks, drivers, bodyguards, servants and soldiers.

        • Kevin Levin Nov 6, 2016 @ 16:56

          Of course they did. I am currently writing a book about the camp servants or what I call camp slaves. There were a few soldiers who entered the army after the Confederate Congress authorized their enlistment in March 1865.

    • Jimmy Dick Nov 6, 2016 @ 19:35

      Might want to look at actual facts instead of making up false claims. The entire Cherokee nation split over the Civil War with many siding with the Confederates while other sided with the Union.

      No point in going into the rest of the garbage you haven’t fact checked. The Louisiana Native Guard has a great history which you ignored in favor of the usual fiction. Bring proof if you want someone to believe you.

      • zilbermints Nov 7, 2016 @ 3:45

        He is right, you know. The Cherokees did split. Stand Watie led the Confederate faction, another Indian, the Union faction. The Louisiana Native Guard was a Confederate all-black unit, but its services were never accepted. The Guard switched sides when the Federal army came.

  • Robert Snapp Sep 14, 2016 @ 6:34

    Actually, there were closer to 90,000 documented in Union records. You might want to check the official federal records before spouting nonsense. Such as, the records of the 85th Indiana Volunteer Infantry on March 5, 1863, at Missionary Ridge, state ” the battery in charge of the 85th Indiana was attacked by two full regiments of Rebel negro’s.” Or, Federal Official Records Ser. 1 Vol. XVI Part 1 pg. 805 “There were also large numbers of negros in the Texas and Georgia troops who were armed and equipped and took part in the engagements against our troops.”. Or Federal Official Records See. 1 Vol. XIV pg. 24 ” There were six companies of mounted rifles, besides the infantry, among which were a considerable number of colored men”. Or how about Federal Official Records See. 1 Vol. 15 part1 pp. 136-137 “General Forrest is recruiting (not conscripting) negro troops at Enterprise, Mississippi, and these negro’s are all enrolled as State troops.” Or how about this one, “The Fredrick Douglass Monthly” Vol. IV September 1861 page 516 States “There are at the present moment, many colored men in the Confederate Army, was real soldiers, having muskets on their shoulders and bllets in their pockets, ready to shoot down loyal (Union) troops and ready to do all that soldiers may do to destroy the Federal government. There were such soldiers at Manassas, and there still are”. The Journal of Negro History, hardly a Confederate sympathizer, States in Vol. 4, Book 3, pp.244-245 ” Seventy free blacks enlisted in the Confederate Army today in Lynchburg, VA.” And “Sixteen companies of free men of color marched through Augusta, Ga. On their way to fight in Virginia”. I can name at least 50 more such Federal, NOT CONFEDERÀTE, official records of the time listing thousands of black Confederate troops. Unless there was massive falsification of the Union records, it is unequivocally clear that many thousands of black free men served as Confederate soldiers. Any attempt to deny this is racist revisionist history.

    • Kevin Levin Sep 14, 2016 @ 6:38

      These are reports. I assume you have followed up and identified the two units in question. I am quite familiar with Union records, but perhaps you can provide those Confederate records that support these claims. Thank you.

      • bob carey Sep 14, 2016 @ 6:59

        Was the 85th Indiana anywhere near Missionary Ridge in March of 1863?

    • James Simcoe Sep 14, 2016 @ 13:17

      Massive falsification that creates the grounds for the myth that Confederate armies were much smaller than Union. Poor grounds for a conspiracy, ‘Lets make us look bad by deleting all references to Black Confederates!’

  • Jim Denison Aug 19, 2016 @ 14:30

    There were many recorded instances of combat service of black Confederates which can be found in the Federal Official Records, Northern and Southern newspapers and the letters and diaries of soldiers from both sides. In addition there are recorded instances of black Southerners serving as regularly-enlisted combat soldiers before the Union allowed enlistment of blacks.

    National Park Service Chief Historian Emeritus, Ed Bearrs, stated, “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.”

    Historian, Erwin L. Jordan, Jr., calls it a “cover-up” which started back in 1865. He writes, “During my research, I came across instances where black men stated they were soldiers, but you can plainly see where ‘soldier’ is crossed out and ‘body servant’ inserted, or ‘teamster’ on pension applications.” Another black historian, Roland Young, says he is not surprised that blacks fought. He explains that “some, if not most, black southerners would support their country” and that by doing so they were “demonstrating it’s possible to hate the system of slavery and love one’s country.” This is the very same reaction that most African Americans showed during the American Revolution, where they fought for the colonies, even though the British offered them freedom if they fought for them.

    It has been estimated that over 65,000 Southern blacks were in the Confederate ranks. Over 13,000 of these, “saw the elephant” — also known as meeting the enemy in combat. These black Confederates included both slave and free. The Confederate Congress did not approve blacks to be officially enlisted as soldiers (except as musicians), until late in the war. But in the ranks it was a different story.

    Dr. Leonard Haynes, an African-American professor at Southern University, stated, “When you eliminate the black Confederate soldier, you’ve eliminated the history of the South.”


    • Kevin Levin Aug 19, 2016 @ 15:55

      Nice job cutting and pasting what appears on hundreds of websites. Start with this post that debunks the Ed Bearrs quote.

      • Jim Denison Aug 19, 2016 @ 18:32

        Thanks, but I must admit I don’t understand how your failure to find the quote attributed to Ed Bearss invalidates it. I presume you are also unable to find any refutation by Ed of the quote — even though, as you point out, it “appears on hundreds of websites.”

        • Kevin Levin Aug 20, 2016 @ 1:49

          Read the comments. He was asked.

        • James Simcoe Sep 14, 2016 @ 12:07

          Just as there are 100,000 repetitions of ‘R.E. Lee’ took communion with a Black man!’ on line. No one quotes the original article by a Mr Broun, written in 1905. “…under such provoking and insulting circumstances…” And “By this action of Gen. Lee…the service was conducted as if the negro had not been present.” Broun continues about the galling need to bow under the ‘New Regime,’ etc. Yet to most Southern Traditionalists, Lee demonstrated absolute absence of race bigotry. The masses of Internet chatter only state that ‘Lee took communion with a Black man.’ Broun was adamant in every other written statement he ever made about race that he considers it a great victory that the Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1902 has so successfully excluded the ‘negro vote.’ He was a a determined white supremacist and if anything would have excluded such a story if he had any choice. Either that or he is schizophrenic. We have Lee’s own letters that take a cheap shot at Black people every chance he got…and Ms. Pryor stated that the material she included in ‘Reading the Man’ was not the worst of the lot. Also, if what you say is true, we now know that many white southerns stayed home and let Black men do their fighting for them! Or, Confederate armies were much larger than we have supposed. Either the totals are too low as the Black troops were excluded by Yankee conspiracy, or patriotism in white southerners was not as fervent as we have been led to believe. Jackson had 3,500 Black men fighting as ‘Black Confederates and Afro-Yankees’ claims. Yep, and 3,500 fewer white men!

    • Shoshana Bee Aug 19, 2016 @ 16:04

      So sad: not even the distinguished Ed Bearrs is safe from the chicanery of the true believers of the Cult of the Black Confederate Soldier.

      • Kevin Levin Aug 19, 2016 @ 16:06

        Chalk it up to: If it’s on the Internet, it must be true. 🙂

  • John Aug 18, 2016 @ 5:58

    You’ll have to forgive my lack of references and citations however I’m on a break and don’t have access to my sources. Firstly I doubt there were 10,000s of Negro’s figthing ingredients the southern army the confederacy was terrified of “servile insurrection” and so arming and training the “servile class” would have been politically counter intuitive. Slavery and what to do about it was a political hot potato. The british government had almost bankrupted itself compensatingredients slave owners and I believe the conunderum was deepened im these days before income tax as something in the region of 80% of federal revenue relied on the proceeds of slavery and it’s associated products. However I believe that to say that the war was fought over slavery would be an error and we have a rather beautiful modern example in the form of the uks recent vote to leave the EU. Now to look at the debate and news stories around the UK vote to leave history would be forgiven for thinking that it was a vote on immigration. Yet although an important issue it ignores something that’s altogether more difficult to measure and that’s culture pride in once said home state and the desire to be ablenabled to shape your own future. Further more the us initially enforced the fugitive slave act. Returning runaways to their owners. So onto the issue of emancipation slaves accounted for a massive proporation of the south’s material assets , it was such a self evident point that general butler wrote to the precident to conplain that us policy was supporting the confederate war effort. So really which meant that the EP served three purposes, it’s allowed the US to rebrand the war, changing it from one of conquest and invasion to one of freedom, otherwise kept Britain and France out the war and in the scope of total war it effectively took millions of dollars out of the confederate economy. Frankly the politics and economic systems of the day were disgraceful .e.g in Britian the working classession were denied the right to vote endured terrible working conditions and child labour was legal and widespread. As such I don’t think the EP was purely born of Northern enlightenment nor were the southerners particularly callous (Britain and France were actively pillaging Africa and Asia athe the time) rather African Americans were used as a political pawn to satisfy the needs of the day….so I make no excuse for the south or confederates but I think these posters are a reaction to what is a historical/political white wash. (No pun intended)

  • David Kent Aug 17, 2016 @ 8:04

    “Southern people of all races could support constitutional freedom offered by a true Republican form of government”

    I can’t believe I just read this. So a slave in the south in 1860 was thinking……
    ………well, it may be against the law for me to read and write, my wife was just sold to God knows where, if I leave this plantation I’ll be hunted down by men and dogs………but if those damn Yankees increase the tariff one more time, by God, I’m going to fight, and die, if necessary……(because, one of these days, I just might be free). Is that what I read? This is beyond delusional.

    • Kevin Levin Aug 17, 2016 @ 8:04

      Don’t think too hard about it. 🙂

    • Jimmy Dick Aug 17, 2016 @ 9:12

      Why would he think the Yankees increased the tariff? They didn’t. The tariff in effect was put in place by a Congress dominated by Democrats in 1857 and was the lowest on record at that point. A proposed tariff increase was sitting in a Senate committee in 1860, dead in the water.

      You are correct. It is delusional. Slaves did not fight for the Confederacy. The facts are overwhelmingly clear on that. They did, however run away and join the United States Army in large numbers to gain freedom and to fight for that freedom. The facts are pretty clear on that as well.

      So when I see the SCV billboard, I see what is going on my screen first thing August 22nd at 9:00 AM in American History to 1865. I will title it, “Why this Class is Important.”

  • bob carey Aug 17, 2016 @ 6:26

    Taxation without Representation, that’s a new one. The slave holding states were over represented in the Congress due to the 3/5’s clause, Art.1 Sec.2 of the Constitution. This is basic stuff to any high school student of American History.

  • James Simcoe Aug 17, 2016 @ 5:07

    1st let’s look at Confederates getting equal pay. That would be next to zero as its well documented that southern soldiers received pay infrequently. Next there is the hyper inflation that had rendered Confederate scrip nearly worthless by 1863. Next. taking the notion of “tens of thousands of Black Confederates” seriously, we are faced with an uncomfortable truth – far fewer white men fought for the Confederacy than we have supposed. The Confederate army totals are well known, so Jackson’s command contained “3,500” Black soldiers AND that many fewer white men. Conversely, the southern armies were MUCH larger than we have thought as the Black men were there but not counted, or poorly counted. Lee had 65,000 white soldiers at Gettysburg as well as 5 to ten thousand Black troops. Which is it?

  • Tim Borron Aug 17, 2016 @ 4:16

    Slavery was going to disappear on it’s own accord. There were just as many if not more, abolition groups in the south as in the north. Mechanization of agriculture was going to end slavery as you refer to it (but not the slaves of all colors working in the northern factories) so the writing was on the wall. If defending slavery was the reason for the war, then why did the norther representatives offer and pass the Corwin Amendment? If slavery was the compelling reason for the South to secede, then they had the opportunity to rejoin and avoid confrontation because of the Corwin Amendment. States rights, taxation without representation and overbearing tariffs and duties compelled the southern states to seek their independence just as their forefathers did from tyrannical English rule. Southern people of all races could support constitutional freedom offered by a true Republican form of government.

    • Kevin Levin Aug 17, 2016 @ 4:33

      Unfortunately, the drivers of secession, the secession documents themselves, and the the leaders of the Confederacy contradict everything in your comment.

      Thanks for the comments, but this will be your final comment.

      • Shoshana Bee Aug 17, 2016 @ 8:04

        I just read through the whole exchange with both Tim and Lev. It was a downright painful task for someone who loves to both learn and teach. It never really occurred to me when I started frequenting the forums and blogs to have an agenda other than to learn, and in order to learn, I willingly cast off my unfounded, unstudied pre-set “historical” narrative. It has not been hard to do for the most part. As I mentioned to someone else: attempting to learn whilst bearing armour of pre-conceived notions is a confluence of incongruities. I feel fortunate for the ability to set aside that armour and open my mind, as it has brought such joy and satisfaction to the learning process.

        • James Simcoe Aug 17, 2016 @ 9:54

          Shoshanna, You have a gift for words. I’m not jumping to conclusions in suggesting this, but there is a book, ‘Lincoln’s Melancholy,’ by Shenk. It is partly about Lincoln’s artistic process. Gary Wills said we had one artist president, Jefferson, who was an architect. But really, we had two, the other was Lincoln who was a writer. He did much to create the modern American idiom in public rhetoric. Jacque Barzun noted this back in the 40’s and Shelby Foote commented on this too. The world needs writers.

        • David Kent Aug 17, 2016 @ 12:10

          “attempting to learn whilst bearing armour of pre-conceived notions is a confluence of incongruities”

          Beautiful, well-put, statement Shoshana………….ok if I use it?

          • Shoshana Bee Aug 17, 2016 @ 15:48

            Well, thanks guys. You have no idea: I have been ridiculed most of my life for the “peculiar” way that I talk and write.

            I am deeply appreciative of your compliments.

            David, you may use it BUT, you will have to have a slight Ulsterman accent when you say or write it, as my English is tinted with that particular accent due to proximity when I learned English.

            Most Sincerely,


        • Jimmy Dick Aug 17, 2016 @ 15:49

          It is painful because one person refuses to use facts in making his claims and ignores the primary sources so that he can continue to make the same erroneous claims that have been proven wrong so many times.

          Obviously I am not referring to Kevin.

    • James Simcoe Aug 17, 2016 @ 5:43

      Agriculture had already been ‘mechanized’, it was called the cotton gin. The response in the Slave States was an avalanche of migration into the ‘Old Southwest’, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas. Speaking of Amendments. The Emancipation Proclamation allowed the British Navy ‘Right of Boarding’ which it already exercised on ships with the flags of all nations. Except the U.S. Only America did not allow HMS navy to search merchants for functioning as Black Market slavers. Palmerston had made it his life work to shut down the continued, illegal slave trade both from Africa and the Caribbean to the Gulf states. ships from Portugal, Spain, Italian states registered under a U.S. flag to avoid search, until the Emancipation Proclamation connected us to the rest of the civilized world.

      • Jimmy Dick Aug 17, 2016 @ 9:03


        If you would please, James, look at the actual Emancipation Proclamation and point out to me exactly where in that document it mentions Great Britain, boarding, shipping, or anything related to any nation searching any US flagged ship.

        You made a claim that is incorrect.

        • James Simcoe Aug 17, 2016 @ 9:36

          Its in the Congressional Acts stemming from teh Proclamation and war policy generally. True, my statement oversimplified the issues pertaining to the E.P. For detail, read, ‘In the Shadow of the Alabama’, ‘Our Man in Charleston’ (Palmerston’s ‘man’) and ‘The Cause of all Nations.’ Also, Foner’s book on ‘British Labor and the U.S. Civil War.’ Also good is ‘French Liberal Opposition in the American Civil War’ which details how Napoleon the 3rd’s increasing military dictatorship allowed only liberal Catholic clergy to speak out against slavery and in favor of the Lincoln Administration. I am not inventing the maritime laws and the fact of the ‘Black Market’ slave trade that continued after the 1802 – 1807 U.S. Acts, which left loopholes until 1820 and the British Acts in Parliament…the Wilberforce story, etc. The West African Squadron patrolled; mostly British, but Admiral Perry participated too. It is a fact that commercial interests registered under the U.S. flag to avoid the patrols. With the Blockade, the U.S. navy finally participated fully in these actions. There is a site: The Abolition of the Slave Trade (abolitionismnypl.org.)

          • Jimmy Dick Aug 17, 2016 @ 15:45

            Interesting treaty. It was agreed to on April 7, 1862; ratified in London on May 25th, and proclaimed by President Lincoln on June 7th, 1862. This predates the Emancipation Proclamation, so you can’t say the EP caused this to happen or set a course of action for ending the slave trade.

            Here is the treaty: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/br1862.asp

            What is interesting is that it conferred the same rights to the US Navy in searching British merchant ships. It also set territorial limitations to the areas in which ships could be searched.

            • James Simcoe Aug 20, 2016 @ 12:33

              And yet we are left with an activist Administration, Lincoln’s. An activist Secretary of State, Seward…a preliminary Cabinet meeting in summer of ’62 where Lincoln tells them he is waiting for the right moment. The April/May dates only demonstrate that Lincoln is ahead of the game, as the Treaty had to have been being negotiated for some months prior. Considering the time lapse in communication between Washington and London due to 19th century, not too shabby. The 1858 Trans Atlantic cable project had faltered by the time of the War, after an initial congratulatory message from President Buchannan to Queen Victoria. What sense in proclaiming a commitment to end slavery without endorsing an end to the black market in Afro-Caribbean slavery through international cooperation? Its called a coherent foreign policy dove-tailing with a stated national purpose of Abolition – all within 6 months. Three months later, January ’63, we have the formal Proclamation. It is true, the Proclamation in itself did not touch on the matters of sea commerce or conduct of navies. So we have the left hand of the Lincoln Administration knowing what the right hand was doing.

  • David Kent Aug 17, 2016 @ 3:37

    The entire premise that African Americans fought for the south leads straight back to the reason for the war. The only way you can believe that they did, is to believe that the war was not about abolition, and the south’s fear of it. John Brown made a huge impression on the south. Nat Turners rebellion was fresh in their minds, and Brown scared them. Brown’s raid may of been a failure, and he may of been hanged, but in the end, it was a total success. He attained every one of his goals. You want to turn a blind eye to the written, documented, reasons for secession by every state that rebelled. I suppose if you can do that, your subject to believing about anything. But think about it. In recorded history, has there ever been a people who fought to stay enslaved? That’s exactly what you are saying by this black confederate talk, and it’s nonsense.

    • N. Fitzpatrick Aug 17, 2016 @ 11:59

      “You want to turn a blind eye to the written, documented, reasons for secession by every state that rebelled.”

      Arkansas’ ordinance of secession did not cite slavery.

      • Kevin Levin Aug 17, 2016 @ 12:03

        Not all of them did, especially in the Upper South, but take a look at the debates leading up to secession and you will see that the dominant subject was slavery.

      • Scott Ledridge Aug 17, 2016 @ 12:12

        “Arkansas’ ordinance of secession did not cite slavery.” – From my understanding the Ordinances that were issued by 13 states were simple documents declaring their secession from the Union. The published declarations, for the states that did publish one, were their list of reasons.

        Perhaps someone has clarification on that?

      • Andy Hall Aug 17, 2016 @ 12:29

        “Arkansas’ ordinance of secession did not cite slavery.”

        The ordinance itself doesn’t, but the Arkansas Secession Convention was nonetheless plenty clear in stating the core problem as they saw it:

        We, the people of the State of Arkansas, in convention assembled, in view of the unfortunate and distracted condition of our once happy and prosperous country, and of the alarming dissentions existing between the northern and southern sections thereof; and desiring that a fair and equitable adjustment of the same may be made; do hereby declare the following to be just causes of complaint on the part of the people of the southern states, against their brethren of the northern, or non-slaveholding states:

        1. People of the northern states haw organized a political party, purely sectional in its character, the central and controlling idea of which is, hostility to the institution of African slavery, as it exists in the southern states, and that party has elected a President and Vice President of the United States. pledged to administer the government upon principles inconsistent with the rights, and subversive of the interests of the people of the southern states.

        2. They have denied to the people of the southern states the right to an equal participation in the benefits of the common territories of the Union, by refusing them the same protection to their slave property therein that is afforded to other property, and by declaring that no more slave states shall be admitted into the Union.

        3. They have declared that Congress possesses, under the constitution, and ought to exercise, the power to abolish slavery in the territories. in the District of Columbia, and in’ the forts, arsenals and dock yards of the United States, within the limits of the slaveholding states

        4. They have, in disregard of their constitutional obligations, obstructed the faithful execution of the fugitive slave laws by enactments of their state legislatures.

        5. They have denied the citizens of southern states the right of transit through non-slaveholding states with their slaves_ and the right to hold them while temporarily sojourning therein.

        6. They have degraded American citizens by’ placing them upon an equality with negroes [sic.] at the ballot-box.

        It goes on like that for a while, dude.

        • Kevin Levin Aug 17, 2016 @ 12:30

          Thanks, Andy. As you know this is true for many of the states that seceded following Fort Sumter.

  • Tim Borron Aug 17, 2016 @ 3:27

    Years of untiring efforts by Lincolnite apologists and liberal historians to cloud the issue of why the South seceded and fought a war for independence and the indoctrination of the public school system have certainly taken it’s toll on the truth, a play right out of the Karl Marx and Saul Alinsky playbook.

    • Kevin Levin Aug 17, 2016 @ 3:44

      A reference to Marx and Alinsky. I must have missed their scholarship on this subject. 🙂

  • Tim Borron Aug 17, 2016 @ 2:49

    Dear John,
    Reconstruction (nothing but further punishment) was foisted on the south by the victorious Republicans and Lincolnites. The southern people did not ask for “reconstruction” and blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans in the south all suffered alike by it;s effects. There is evidence and testimony that the “night riders” you refer to were formed to protect black and white southerners from atrocities inflicted by the union Freedmens Bureau operatives. I have read information and saw a photo of a reunion parade of origonal “night riders” that has a couple of blacks in a carriage in the parade who were probably ex-confederate soldiers and the men proffesed to be “night riders”. It should not be a stretch to think that blacks loyal to the Confederacy would defend it after the war.

    • Kevin Levin Aug 17, 2016 @ 2:58

      Wow! Right out of the Dunning School playbook. I am sure this view is shared by your SCV friends, but it is a view that is thankfully quickly losing influence.

  • Lev D Zilbermints Aug 16, 2016 @ 21:15

    Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia, which cites its sources, about Hispanics in the Civil War. You can find both Union and Confederate there.


    • hankc Aug 18, 2016 @ 18:38

      What did the ante bellum southern Hispanic codes have to say about Hispanics living in the south? how did they compare to the Black codes?

  • Lev D Zilbermints Aug 16, 2016 @ 19:11

    I have a book, “The South Was Right!” written in 1999 by the Kennedy brothers, descendants of Confederate soldiers. The book gives many photos of blacks; footnotes; sources, bibliography. Thus, I would suggest you look at the sources in that book. That would be a start.

    In the Confederate States Army, black cooks, teamsters, riverboat pilots, bodyguards got equal pay with whites. Northern black soldiers were paid 1/3 less than white soldiers. This is a historical fact. It was not until 1864 that the Union Army gave black soldiers equal pay.

    While Confederate authorities refused to officially recruit blacks for the army until March 1865, the reality is that blacks contributed much to Confederate cause. They dug trenches and ditches; served as bodyguards; teamsters; cooks; drivers; guides; scouts, etc. Today, these would be considered tasks done by soldiers. Had these blacks been white, the Union would have given them credit. But, since they were black, the Union refused to acknowledge that blacks supported the Confederacy. This was because the Union tried to propagandize the idea that all blacks hated the Confederacy. No, that was not the case!

    One part of blacks decided to flee to the Union. A second part remained loyal to the South. And a third part stayed neutral, waiting to see which way the wind was blowing. The same thing happened with white populations in other wars.

    Kevin, can you cite me a reference that you say is not properly interpreted? Can you give me a reason to show WHY it is not properly interpreted?

    • Kevin Levin Aug 17, 2016 @ 2:06

      Ah, The South Was Right!, my favorite neo-Confederate text.

      Yes, we know that tens of thousands of African Americans were present with the army as impressed slaves and body servants or camp slaves.

      Kevin, can you cite me a reference that you say is not properly interpreted?

      Just take a look at the response to your previous comment about William Mack Lee.

    • Jimmy Dick Aug 17, 2016 @ 9:13

      Why the South was Right! is best used as emergency toilet paper.

    • hankc Aug 18, 2016 @ 13:00

      by that logic, the police, parking attendants and concessionaires at the political conventions in Cleveland and Philadelphia must be Republicans and Democrats.

      And those tasks today are *not* done by soldiers but rather by contractors.

      • Lev D Zilbermints Aug 18, 2016 @ 16:45

        Your argument is flawed in several ways, Hankc, sir. First, the Civil War was a war where black people performed tasks under fire, in less than ideal circumstances. By “today” you mean 2016, correct? But we are talking about 1861 – 1865, when these tasks *were not* performed by contractors. You try to judge 19th century warfare by 21st century standards. That is flawed logic. War is war, sir. When trenches are dug, under battlefield conditions, it is done by soldiers, civilians allies, slaves or prisoners of war. You can see that in Vietnam, Korea, World War II, Spanish Civil War, World War I, U.S. Civil War, various nations had used soldiers, civilians, slaves, or prisoners of war as labor.

        Contractors, indeed! That might work for *peaceful* conditions, but not during wartime, under fire.

        Second, the way political conventions are organized, it is entirely feasible that concessionares *might* be connected to the political parties. After all, they have to get the okay for the concession in the first place! Police and parking attendants might not necessarily be Republicans and Democrats, if only because these people work there regardless of party connection. In other words, if the Green Party had its convention in Cleveland, there still would be need for a law and order maintenance. Ditto for parking cars. Thus, a party would not be able to directly influence police and parking attendants’ political allegiance.

        Third, if you were in a war zone, and had to dig trenches, you would have a contractor do it? Not so fast. When your commander tells you to dig trenches, you dig. During WWII, Russian civilians dug trenches. On the fronts, soldiers dug trenches in WWI. In the Spanish Civil War, Republican civilians dug trenches and fought Franco’s army.
        During the U.S. Civil War, General Lee had soldiers dig trenches. They called him “Granny Lee” at one point because of that. But this saved Lee manpower that he could use later. Lee elevated pick and spade to near-equality with musket and cannonball.

        A contractor is good in peacetime, when there are no bullets flying or about to fly, no bombings from the air…

        I repeat, contractor may be good in 2016. But during the War Between the States, in 1861-1865, slaves and soldiers had to dig trenches, do all the “contractor work”. And that is my point: you cannot use 2016 standards when comparing 1861 – 1865.

        When General Grant had trenches dug at Petersburg did he call a contractor? No. He had soldiers do it. The Confederacy used slaves, soldiers, civilians, free men of color to do that work.

        And during the Crimean War, in 1853 – 1856, Imperial Russia used soldiers and civilians, not contractors, to defend their positions against French, Ottoman, Sardinian and British armies.

        Just so you know.

        • hankc Aug 18, 2016 @ 18:32

          what is the evidence of confederate slaves digging trenches under fire in battlefield conditions? did any then stay and defend those trenches?

          Union civilians erected fortifications during CSA northern excursions. do you consider them soldiers?

          • Kevin Levin Aug 19, 2016 @ 1:54

            Hi Hank,

            I have found a number of accounts of camp slaves taking part in battle. What is interesting, however, is the way in which Confederates approached explaining their participation. They were very careful not to subscribe those virtues reserved for white men in battle.

            • Lev D Zilbermints Aug 19, 2016 @ 3:15

              I was asked about what southern codes said about Hispanics. Research showed that Hispanics fought for both Union and CSA during the Civil War. Please see the link below.


              • Kevin Levin Aug 19, 2016 @ 3:24

                There is an excellent new handbook published by the National Park Service that delves into Hispanics and other minorities in the Confederacy. There is also an extensive secondary literature on the subject.

            • HankC Aug 20, 2016 @ 7:20


              Lev is lumping slaves and Hispanics (a term unknown to Confederates) together, saying Hispanics served as soldiers during the war, hence slaves were also soldiers. This is like saying Bryce Harper, Chris Davis and I averaged 30 home runs last year so we should each make our average $6M salary.

              Soldiers dug rifle pits, breastworks and trenches because they were soldiers. Slaves dug them because they were slaves. The difference is not a subtle one yet Lev fails to see it.

              • Andy Hall Aug 20, 2016 @ 7:40

                There’s an argument frequently made that because enlisted soldiers were sometimes assigned duties as cooks as teamsters, then cooks and teamsters were therefore soldiers. It’s a tidy argument, but not actually true in practice, on either side of that war.

                The comparison between African American laborers (either enslaved or hired civilians) during the Civil War and modern civilian contractors working for the U.S military overseas today is not perfect, but it’s not a bad one, either. There are substantial similarities, including in the jobs they perform that, broadly speaking, are various sorts of logistical support to free up combat troops.

                • Kevin Levin Aug 20, 2016 @ 8:02

                  I am making my way through a dissertation that lumps body servants (camp slaves) in with free and enslaved blacks who performed various military roles as military support staff. I think it works to a certain extent, but I also think it obscures a good deal of analysis that emphasizes the racial and cultural space between these men and Confederate soldiers. This is especially true when it comes to camp slaves.

  • Tim Borron Aug 16, 2016 @ 18:07

    What is wrong with the union references to Black Confederates? What is wrong with the Confederate pension applications and muster /enlistment rolls? What is wrong with the newspaper and periodical accounts and reports? Who are you to challenge the interpretations?

    • Kevin Levin Aug 17, 2016 @ 2:07

      What is wrong with the Confederate pension applications and muster /enlistment rolls?

      The pensions were issued specifically to former slaves and not soldiers. It’s difficult to take you seriously when you can’t even get the basic facts straight. The Confederate government did not authorize the enlistment of blacks until the final weeks of the war.

  • Yulanda Burgess Aug 16, 2016 @ 17:28


    The mention that three “known blacks rode with Mo. guerrilla Captain Quantrill” brings to mind Capt. Wes Burgess who had an enslaved body servant, John. According to John, both were captured in Indian Terriory. John was released in Missouri and joined the 11th US Colored Infantry at Fort Smith in Arkansas. He became a sergeant and was a color bearer. In his pension records John states in an affidavit that he did not fight for the confederacy. So yes, he did ride with Quantrill but not as a soldier. He was a slave who was given from one brother to another in 1862. He became a freedman and soldier when he enlisted and was mustered in as a Union soldier in 1863. He died a Union veteran fighting to receive a pension from the federal government for injuries sustained in a battle against the confederates. Again showing proof that if one pokes around the truth can be found.

  • Tim Borron Aug 16, 2016 @ 17:19

    So you are the only person on earth who has the authority and credentials to interpret? Are not the union references valid? What about the newspaper and periodical reports? What about the Confederate pension records? What about the Confederate muster rolls? Are not these documents and accounts fact enough? The billboard is meant to give the interested public an opportunity to research and come to their own conclusion. It doesn’t matter if there were 65,000 blacks as research is showing, or knock 10,000 off for the sake of your obviously biased opinion. Over 75,000 men of color served the Confederacy. Is their some problem with people thinking for themselves about this issue? Hence, the question.

    • Kevin Levin Aug 17, 2016 @ 2:09

      So you are the only person on earth who has the authority and credentials to interpret?

      Not at all, but all you have done is offer a list of sources without any attempt at interpretation. The Kennedy brothers are not historians and their book is worthless.

  • Tim Borron Aug 16, 2016 @ 16:45

    Confederate blacks as you should know, were fully intergrated into the Confederate ranks with no reference to their race, unlike the racists union army. There are plenty of union references to Black Confederates in the book so what is your point?

    • Kevin Levin Aug 16, 2016 @ 16:56

      Where are the Confederate references? There are hundreds of references in that book, but not a single one is properly interpreted.

      • Scott Ledridge Aug 16, 2016 @ 20:47

        So, Tim, following your narrative of blacks fighting for their own enslavement and the utopian, integrated units of the progressive, Confederate Army, what happened after the war? What happened during the next 100 years? What was the purpose of apprenticeships, Jim Crow laws, etc…? Why did the southern whites feel the need to oppress the blacks that fought so valiantly, and in such great numbers for your Confederacy? Seems pretty ungrateful.

        Your kumbaya-view of the CSA Army doesn’t really jive with… well… anything.

        • Andy Hall Aug 18, 2016 @ 5:36

          Scott, the Confederacy was more progressive than most people realize. They had an entire department devoted to Trans-Mississippians.

          • Kevin Levin Aug 18, 2016 @ 5:38

            Good one, Andy. 🙂

          • Scott Ledridge Aug 18, 2016 @ 22:00

            I really, really, really had to think about this one.

            That was a very good one, Andy.

  • Tim Borron Aug 16, 2016 @ 16:24

    The book “Black Confederates” authored by Charles Kelley Barrow, J.H. Segars, and R.B. Rosenburgh is full of documentation, records and footnotes.

    • Kevin Levin Aug 16, 2016 @ 16:34

      Yes, I am familiar with it. The book does not include one wartime Confederate account of a black Confederate soldier.

  • Kevin Dally Aug 16, 2016 @ 16:04

    Tim Borron: Simply show us in the OR’s all the CONFEDERATE accounts of Black/Slave “soldiers” , or all the Confederate Diary accounts written during the war of these supposed “Black Confederate Soldiers”. I have not seen any accounts, please show all of us. And stop calling folk “Marxist’s”, it doesn’t show well on your intelligence.

  • Tim Borron Aug 16, 2016 @ 15:30

    The men who are pictured on the billboard volunteered for the picture. They are proud of their Confederate history. Modern research has shown that aprox. 65,000 blacks, 15000 Native Americans and aprox. 13,000 Hispanics served in the Confederate military. There are 3 known blacks who rode with Mo. guerrilla Captain Quantrill. In 1862, union observer Capt. Isaac W, Heysinger noted around 3500 armed black Confederates out of aprox. 64,000 men in General Stonewall Jackson’s command as it passed through Frederick, Maryland on it’s way to the battle of Sharpsburg. That is nearly 5% of the total manpower observed. General Nathan Bedford Forrest had a personal bodyguard of cavalry considered one of the best in either army and aprox. 20% of them were black. This info. is documented in the book Black Confederates” by 3 authors who spent almost 5 years researching the records for the book. Union prison records were most telling as captured and imprisoned black confederates are listed on prison roles as “Negro” Confederates. Maybe you all should do some honest research for 5 years and see what you come up with. There is nothing political about the billboard. Sorry you Marxists can’t figure it out.

    • Kevin Levin Aug 16, 2016 @ 15:43

      Thank you for the reminder of why I am writing a book about the myth of the black Confederate soldier. I assume you can provide just one wartime Confederate source demonstrating the existence of 3,500 armed black men in Jackson’s command. Here is what Professor James I. Robertson had to say about the claim that Jackson’s command included thousands of armed blacks. As you probably know, he is widely considered one of the leading authorities on Jackson and his command.

      • bob carey Aug 17, 2016 @ 6:10

        If Jackson had 64,000 armed soldiers at Antietam things might have turned out differently.

        • Kevin Levin Aug 17, 2016 @ 6:15

          Kent Masterson Brown argues in his excellent study of the Gettysburg Campaign that somewhere around 10,000 blacks accompanied the Army of Northern Virginia into Pennsylvania in the summer of 1863. This would have included impressed slaves and body servants or camp slaves. There were no black soldiers.

    • Dave Aug 17, 2016 @ 23:48

      Thank you Tim!

  • Rblee22468 Aug 15, 2016 @ 6:56
    • Andy Hall Aug 15, 2016 @ 8:34

      If Ms. Roane is going to use her credentials as an archivist to establish herself as an authority on the subject, then she should do the work of a professional and publish her work in a recognized venue.

      • Kevin Levin Aug 15, 2016 @ 8:39

        That’s exactly right. As far as I know she has not published anything on the subject. All I have seen are posts to various Facebook group pages.

  • Andy Hall Aug 14, 2016 @ 14:25

    There’s a certain irony in this effort coming out of the Missouri SCV, given that the Western and Trans-Mississippi Theaters arguably had more incidents racial atrocities and reprisals than occurred in the East.

    This weekend I attended a presentation by Mark Christ, an historian and preservation officer from Arkansas, on the Camden campaign and the Red River Expedition in 1864. He read from numerous letters from soldiers at the battles of Poison Spring and Jenkins Ferry, describing the violence meted out to black Union troops by Confederates — including shooting the wounded and summary execution of those taken alive — as well as reprisals carried out on Confederate troops by USCTs in return. It was hideous and, entirely apart from the happy “Confederates of color” fantasy, further papers over the particularly viscous nature of the latter part of the war in the West.

  • John Aug 14, 2016 @ 3:49

    If there were so many black confederates, how does one explain reconstruction and beyond?

    If the night riders were primarily ex-confederates why are they riding around at midnight maiming/killing their former comrades women and children?

    If the night riders were not ex-confederates why did the ex-confederates not assist their former comrades against such profane evil and why would ex-confederates not convict those devils?

  • Sandi Parker Aug 13, 2016 @ 18:01

    Psychological warfare at its finest.

  • Leroy Aug 13, 2016 @ 17:58

    I have checked this out and it’s true. To add southern states after the war civil war. Blacks who were in the confederate army navy were paid a retirement pension. Several accounts of reunions with both black and white former confederate soldiers. Getting together regularly. There are lots of historical,political etc information that supports all this and more.

    • Kevin Levin Aug 13, 2016 @ 19:25

      Blacks who were in the confederate army navy were paid a retirement pension.

      If you bothered to look at the actual pension documents you will see that they were given specifically to former slaves and not soldiers.

      Former camp slaves did take part in Confederate veterans reunions, but they did not do so as soldiers.

  • Josh Liller Aug 13, 2016 @ 14:18

    Related questions as a point of curiosity (and not as any attempt to defend the SCV):

    1. If one were to speak of “Confederates of Color” rather than “Black Confederates” (where “of color” is defined as black, Hispanic, and/or Native American) is there any estimate on how many such people there were in the Confederate military?

    2. Is there any estimate on how many blacks-who-passed-as-whites fought for the Confederacy? I suppose this depends in part on how you definite “black” – 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, or “one drop”. (I don’t know what the legal definition was in 1861 in the CSA.)

    • Kevin Levin Aug 14, 2016 @ 2:48

      Hi Josh,

      Unfortunately, I can’t give you a definitive answer to your questions. I have come across examples of men forced out of service once their racial identity was exposed, but exact numbers are difficult.

    • James Simcoe Aug 14, 2016 @ 3:44

      Josh, As the movie ‘Cold Mountain’ showed, their were some Cherokee individuals who enlisted. Roger Kennedy’s books on the expansion of the country into the ‘Old Southwest’: Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas pitted numerous tribal groups against European/American immigration with shifting alliances, sometimes acting in concert with White Americans. It was all very para-military. Many southerns inter-married into Cherokee and Choctaw (Muskogean language) groups; later to pass as white. Some held slaves. I didn’t know that the Seminoles were essentially a multi-racial group, not so much a distinct culture. In present Oklahoma, Stand Watie led some Creek, etc. Regiments, but many went out of extended family obligations. Stand Watie’s story is interesting, i.e. the Trail of Tears. There were also Regiments from Oklahoma (Then The Indian Territory) and Texas/Kansas that fought for the Union. The Trans-Mississippi Theater has received much more scholarly attention in recent years. Turns out that as opposition to Jeff Davis became more vivid towards the end of ’64, top Confederate officials started calling for Davis to resign. The Governor of Texas blasted him, also labeling Mrs. Davis a “…coarse, western woman…” Western? And he’s the governor of Texas. Woops! Turns out she was part Choctaw.

      • Shoshana Bee Aug 14, 2016 @ 8:49

        Quote: Stand Watie’s story is interesting, i.e. the Trail of Tears.

        The Civil War caused rifts in the Cherokee Nation that can still be felt, today. Chief John Ross was firmly on the side of the Union, whilst Stand Watie supported the Confederate cause (and recruited for Confederate army) After the war, this fracture left the former Union Cherokee at an advantage over the former CSA Cherokee, resulting in land grabs and further weakening of the tribe. Outsiders saw the advantage of this infighting and encouraged it (Indian Commissioner D.N. Cooley was notorious for this). The tribe was left in disarray — very sad.

        • James Simcoe Aug 14, 2016 @ 12:07

          Thanks for the commentary. I haven’t looked closely into the post war situation there. I recall that Grant’s aide Ely Parker (Seneca) was hounded out of Washington due to his marriage to a white woman.
          In ‘Stories the Soldiers Wouldn’t Tell,’ the author delves into PTSD narratives, The Soldier’s Home’s, ‘no prisoner’ events, etc., and sex; hint, photography was brand new. General Jackson’s “military family” knew of his former relationship (and kept it a strict secret) with a Cherokee woman and had a daughter. He saw to her financial security. In a thread posted at a CW forum a woman from Oklahoma, stated that her mother’s grandmother said she (the Grandmother) was the daughter of General Jackson. Ocie, as I recall. Couldn’t find the site in a quick check.

    • Kevin Levin Aug 14, 2016 @ 3:48

      One helpful place to begin re: the ethnic and racial dimension of the Confederacy is with Susannah Ural’s edited collection, Civil War Citizens: Race, Ethnicity, and Identity in America’s Bloodiest Conflict (NYU Press).

      • James Simcoe Aug 14, 2016 @ 8:14

        Thanks for the tip!

  • Shoshana Bee Aug 13, 2016 @ 9:44

    Hmmmm…I wonder if they, too, are in the business of making up ancestors? It seems that by days end, I could possibly have a whole family tree of Confederate ancestors!

  • James Simcoe Aug 13, 2016 @ 9:28

    Civil War soldiers with pot-bellies aside; if its true that there were ‘tens of thousands’ of Black Confederates who somehow escaped notice in diaries, letters, battlefield reports, etc., we are faced with a never before discussed uncomfortable truth. Confederate armies were much larger than historical reports state, as so many of rank and file were unaccounted due to being black. This has a flip side, far fewer Southern whites fought for the Confederacy than we have supposed. If army totals are accurate as stated and as many as 10-15% were Black, that leaves a whole lot of White men back home, given 1860 census totals. Bye the Bye – new book called ‘Food and Agriculture in the Civil War by Hurt. Fascinating. One can check out the 1860 agricultural census figures on-line. Thus dies the myth of the agrarian South and the industrial north. If by agrarian one means far more rural, then yes. And if by industrial, you mean an almost golden age of a balanced economy in the Free States. Barter and cash are equally used as means of exchange, there’s a balance between nuclear family and extended family social forms. Small to mid size skilled/semi-skilled craftsmen and mechanics as well as numerous small and mid-sized tradesman/ mechanics are ubiquitous, saturating the Free State economies. Flying over the Border and Free States in an invisible enclosed balloon in 1860 would make our mental image of an ‘industrialized society’ as WE picture it seem silly.

  • David Kent Aug 13, 2016 @ 8:37

    It’s beating a dead horse in trying to speak with these people in a rational manner. When they can discount the reasons for secession by the very leaders that actually did it, they’re beyond the point of any reasonable discussion. They can put up a thousand billboards, but it’s not going to change what was written in 1860-61. It’s not unlike discussing policy issues with a trump supporter. When facts no longer matter, the discussion is over.

  • bob carey Aug 13, 2016 @ 5:01

    Notice the sign says Confederates of Color and not Black Confederates.
    Annettes’ suspicions may be right in that the modern Republican party have been trying to be a party of inclusion since the 2012 election, their so-called autopsy report.
    The term “of color” is of recent origin. I suspect that this term is not often used at SCV meetings.

    • Kevin Levin Aug 13, 2016 @ 5:05

      I see this more as the SCV attempting to remain relevant in places that have become more diverse as opposed to a taking a political position.

    • Ken Noe Aug 13, 2016 @ 6:14

      The photo may be new but including Native Americans, Asians, and Latinos along with African Americans is a tried-and-true variation on the theme that goes back at least fifteen to twenty years.

    • Mike Douglas Aug 13, 2016 @ 17:08

      The term “of color” actually isn’t of recent vintage, though its resurgence in usage started in the 1970s. It was actually an official term of the United States Census from the late 18th century until the mid 19th. I have quite a few ancestors from the period who are designated as F.P.C. (free person of color) on the censuses. And I know it was used in Texas as late as 1870. My g-g-g-grandparents’ marriage license lists them, parenthetically, as f.m.c. and f.w.c.

      • Andy Hall Aug 17, 2016 @ 6:58

        “The term ‘of color’ actually isn’t of recent vintage, though its resurgence in usage started in the 1970s.”

        The Confederate heritage folks are adept at parroting the phrasing of larger social movements and pop culture — “Confederate Lives Matter,” “Straight Outta Danville,” “Je Suis Stonewall,” and so on. I’m sure they think it’s oh-so-clever, but it’s really kinda sad.

  • DG Foulke Aug 13, 2016 @ 4:51

    Kinda tough gig for the actors/models, I imagine. (Though maybe the question mark eases things a bit.)

  • Andrew Aug 13, 2016 @ 4:35

    I went to the website and there is absolutely no information about “75,000 Confederates of Color” anywhere to be seen, although there is a handy paypal account available if you want to fund their billboard.

  • Annette Jackson Aug 13, 2016 @ 4:13

    Desperation time to what purpose? I suspect a political motivation as the end of the 150th dovetailed with the 2016 election early bird campaigning and the nomination of Trump as the GOP candidate. The GOP needs to change its name from Republican Party as it is a travesty of the original party and the party as I knew it growing up.

  • Kevin Dally Aug 13, 2016 @ 4:02

    Look, I just had hernia surgery, it hurts to laugh! Please don’t do this to me! LoL…OUCH! (See, I told you!) How much money does it take to put up something like this sign anyway?
    Is this a new tactic spawned from their latest ” Reunion”?

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