The “Baghdad Bob of the Civil War”

I want to preface this post by sharing that the response to the release of Searching for Black Confederates have been overwhelmingly positive. The pre-release sales far exceeded by expectations and I couldn’t be more encouraged by the responses I have received over email and social media. Last week I spoke at the Atlanta History Center to a packed crowd, where we sold out of books.

Tomorrow evening I will speak at the Massachusetts Historical Society and next week begins an extended tour that will bring me to the National Archives in D.C., Hood College in Frederick, MD, the University of Maryland at Baltimore, and the Virginia Museum of History & Culture in Richmond.

Of course, I anticipated less than positive responses from the usual suspects, though nothing that I have seen reflects a careful reading of the book. Not surprisingly, the responses so far from this corner are heavy on personal attacks and defensive posturing.

What I love about Mr. Randall Scott’s colorful response is the way in which it reasserts the ideological foundation of the black Confederate myth. A couple passages stand out.

My motive for writing this book, according to Mr. Scott is “to perpetuate the myth of Confederate-vs-Black hatred- hatred that was supposed to have existed across the South.”

That’s right. I am the the one pushing myths. The Confederacy, it turns out was a beacon of civil rights and equality for roughly 3.5 million enslaved people. Had it won its independence these individuals would surely have lived peaceful lives completely integrates with white men and women.

This is the Lost Cause narrative expressed in the most ludicrous terms possible.

According to Mr. Scott, a book that exposes the myth of the “loyal slave” and places slavery at the center of the Confederacy, where real Confederates understood it to be between 1861 and 1865, is taking us down the road toward “another Race War in America.”

I assume that most sensible people will look at this and just laugh, which is about all it deserves. That is was posted on an SCV Facebook page does nothing to reinforce their credibility. In fact, it does the exact opposite. I can’t help but think that I’ve managed to push a few buttons over there.

Mission Accomplished.

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32 comments… add one
  • Brad Sep 24, 2019 @ 3:40

    Yes, you’re right Kevin. All I did was get a good laugh. By the way, our town library up here in NW New Jersey (near Morristown) has your book. I’m hoping to read it very soon.

  • bebowreinhard Sep 18, 2019 @ 13:29

    Personally I think the truth lies somewhere between the two viewpoints. It usually does, anyway.

    • CliosFanBoy Sep 19, 2019 @ 13:55

      that’s also a logical fallacy. I say 2+2=4, Someone else says 2+2=5. The correct answer is 4, not 4.5

  • David Doggett, PhD Sep 18, 2019 @ 13:02

    Thanks for your efforts, Kevin. As a white Southerner with ancestors who owned slaves and fought for the Confederacy, and others who didn’t, I can assure you there are lots of us who appreciate the truth about those misguided times, and appreciate your deconstruction of the damaging revisionist myths of the Lost Cause. The myth of the black Confederate is one of the most ridiculous and laughable of them all. Keep up the good work.

  • Gail Goth Sep 18, 2019 @ 11:28

    Kevin Levin has absolutely no clue what he’s talking about. Another yankee telling us how stupud we are and pushing his agenda – so tired of it. Total revisionist history.

    • Kevin Levin Sep 18, 2019 @ 12:05

      I couldn’t agree more. Enough is enough. 🙂

    • Joshism Sep 21, 2019 @ 6:21

      “Another yankee telling us how stupud we are and pushing his agenda”

      How dare someone tell us we’re wrong! He’s not even one of us! I deny his facts and substitute my own alternative facts!

      • Kevin Levin Sep 21, 2019 @ 6:30

        What I especially appreciate is the assumption that all southerners are united around an agreed historical narrative.

  • Mark Snell Sep 18, 2019 @ 7:38

    I agree with your take on the myth of the black Confederate soldier. At the same time, it seems like Randall’s motivation has more to do with his characterization of current liberal thinking about the “Confederates-Black hatred” and his pseudo-history seems to be a reaction to it. I think Joel’s comment about “4 million Yankees pillaged, burned, robbed and raped their way through the South” is really a similar reaction. Many folks don’t realize that Grant’s euphemistic living off the land away from his supply lines, Sherman’s total war march to the Sea, and the cleaning out of the Shenandoah Valley, had significant collateral damage on civilian Southerners (though I think characterizing Yankees as “raping” is greatly overblown). As just one anecdote, I remember reading a book about Christmas stories recently and one of them concerned how a white family in the Shenandoah Valley managed to have a Christmas in 1864 after Yankee soldiers had come by and stolen the Christmas meal they had managed to scrape together despite having their crops looted earlier in the year. This was not some White racist screed of a book but simply a assortment of Christmas stories by different American races and cultures. Maybe some time we can all move on from the Civil War – which was about black slavery, a universally hated institution on both the Right and Left – and come to terms with the various facets of Reconstruction. A “reconciliation” approach like the South Africans used to deal with apartheid, where the pain of all sides can be heard sympathetically without downplaying the evil that was done, might be a good way to avoid these sort of pointless historical arguments in the future.

    • Joshism Oct 1, 2019 @ 7:51

      South Africa held reconciliation with people who had actually experienced and committed the acts being discussed.

      Everyone who actually fought in the ACW and owned slaves and was a slave are all long dead.

  • Eric A Jacobson Sep 18, 2019 @ 4:55

    I think Randall might actually be the Baghdad Bob in this situation. 😛

  • Terry Klima Sep 18, 2019 @ 2:58

    Curious as to whether the book compares and contrasts the service of Blacks in the Confederate Army, in whatever capacity, versus Blacks serving in the United States Colored Troops. My understanding is that the members of the USCT were treated in a somewhat disparate fashion to their white counterparts in the regular Army, and that the US Military was not actually desegregated until 1948.

    • Kevin Levin Sep 18, 2019 @ 3:20

      Hi Terry,

      It doesn’t because we already have many fine scholarly studies that explore the experiences of black soldiers in the United States army. Happy to suggest a few titles if interested.

  • Matt Donnelly Sep 18, 2019 @ 1:10

    While I haven’t had a chance to get the book yet, what are these clown’s response to Patrick Cleburne’s flow of promotions stopping at a time when the Army Of Tennessee needs competent generals? How do they respond to Howell Cobb’s comments in early 1865? Or are we just dealing with glorified trolls who prefer to make stuff up instead of dealing with facts?

  • Al Mackey Sep 17, 2019 @ 19:47

    A textbook example of how the SCV has no problem lying their butts off. Nothing they say can be trusted. I would even bet this Randall Scott fellow has never once commented on your blog, unlike his claim.

    • Andy Hall Sep 18, 2019 @ 7:19

      He posted one comment, two-and-a-half years ago, that Kevin didn’t reply to. So yeah, his claim that “I’ve had exchanges with Levin” is utterly false.

  • Joshism Sep 17, 2019 @ 18:38

    My thoughts on Randall Scott can be summed up in a meme:

    • CliosFanBoy Sep 18, 2019 @ 5:07

      If we had up-votes here, that meme would get one.

      I had a student not long ago. He was not dumb–had had a high GPA, made the honor society for his major, etc–but he was a “True Believer” and nothing got past his fortress of certaintude. The Civil War was over tariffs, despite what the Confederate states themselves stated in 1860-61, etc.

      He was prone to asking what he seemed to think were challenging questions, but were PRATTS (a point refuted a thousand times). The other students would roll their eyes. One of my advisees mentioned to me that he did that all the time to all his professors.

      I also noted he seemed to have no friends. I never saw him sit with another student in class, at lunch, in the library. He talked with no one else. When he was inducted into an honor society he was the only one who came alone, and the only one who talked with no-one else. I always thought it was sad and tried to engage him, but he was determined to be that lone voice crying out against “orthodoxy.”

      I strongly suspect many of those who come here to object to Kevin’s research are much the same. “Black Confederates” will not convince them, but will be great in demonstrating to others who heard about black Confederate soldiers and will want to know more.

      • Joshism Sep 21, 2019 @ 6:27

        “He was prone to asking what he seemed to think were challenging questions, but were PRATTS”

        It seems like every college gets those. If they’re not “the one guy who understands The Truth and fights the orthodoxy” they’re someone who asks questions in an effort to show how clever they think they are. In either case, the eye-rolling is the universal response from the rest of the class.

        It’s bad enough in history class. I feel sorry for the science classes that have one student who is a devout Flat-Earther.

  • Sanantonefan Sep 17, 2019 @ 16:20

    Written launguage will never be the same. Lol

    Keep fighting the good fight Kevin. Some day John might discover ignorance is not bliss.

    • Joel Fetner Sep 17, 2019 @ 17:29

      Of one thing I am certain. South haters and yankee history book writers do not want there to have been any black Confederate soldiers. Their existence might damage the North’s on well-known entrenched myth that 4 million yankees pillaged, burned, robbed and raped their way through the South in order to free slaves. There are a lot of lies written about The War Between the States, but that one may be the biggest.

      • Kevin Levin Sep 18, 2019 @ 1:07

        Turns out real Confederates also didn’t want there to be black Confederate soldiers. If so, why did they even bother to debate the issue in 1864-65 and only in the last few weeks of the war pass legislation authorizing enlistment at a time when it had no impact on the outcome of the war?

  • Mike Furlan Sep 17, 2019 @ 12:24

    Karl Rove perfected the techniques that the fellow from the SCVs is using here. Art Silverblatt wrote up a guide to them.

    For example:

    Tactic #5: The “Big Lie”
    Although people are often dubious when politicians tell “small” lies, they tend to believe them when they make outrageous claims. Ironically, it is the very magnitude of a “big lie” that makes it believable.

    You can find the entire text here:

    Not much history in it, they just make up their own reality.

    • Kevin Levin Sep 17, 2019 @ 12:27

      As I demonstrate in the book, this is an old lie that has simply been repackaged.

      • John Sep 17, 2019 @ 15:17

        Kevin your CNN quality.I wouldn’t read your book if it meant preserving the written launguage.Just listening to you left wing wingnuts is enough to make an onion cry.If turds had wings y’all would soar.

        • Kevin Levin Sep 17, 2019 @ 15:42

          Hi John,

          Thanks for taking the time to comment, but special thanks for reinforcing the theme of the post. 🙂

          • Jeffry Burden Sep 17, 2019 @ 16:20

            Reinforce, indeed. Seriously, are you paying John to comment?

            • Kevin Levin Sep 17, 2019 @ 16:41

              I know. These comments are too good to be true.

            • CliosFanBoy Sep 18, 2019 @ 5:08

              I suspect John would only accept Confederate money. 🙂

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