Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Norris White, Black Confederate “Brothers” and the “Flipside” to Glory

Posted in African Americans, Memory by Andy Hall on April 17, 2013

A while back, Kevin highlighted a news item on Norris White, Jr., a graduate student at Stephen F. Austin State University who was making the rounds last year, doing presentations and generally talking up the subject of African American soldiers in the Confederate army. Norris White seems to be serious and well-intentioned, and (thankfully) he’s no stream-of-consciousness performance artist like Edgerton. But being sincere is not the same thing as being right. For all his insistence that he’s using primary sources, White’s interviews seem to be little more than reiterating black Confederate rhetoric that the SCV has been asserting for years. While he insists on the importance of primary source materials — “100 percent irrefutable evidence — letters, diaries, pension applications, photographs, newspaper accounts, county commission records and other evidence” — there’s little indication that he’s looked carefully at the materials, or understands them in the larger context of the war and the decades that followed. It’s very shallow stuff he’s doing, hand-waving at a pile of reunion photographs, pension records and loose anecdotes and saying, “see? Black Confederates!” Anyone can do that, and plenty of people do.

It says a lot about the depth of his research that in interviews, White has repeatedly singled out two Texas Historical Commission markers as evidence of his much larger claims about “Black Texans who served in the Confederate Army.” These markers, one to Randolph Vesey (Wise County) and the the other to Primus Kelly (Grimes County), are worth closer examination for what they say, and what they don’t. I obtained copies of the historical marker files for both markers, that you can dowload here (Vesey) and here (Kelly). Both men, as was usual at the time the markers were set up, were explicitly and effusively lauded for their loyalty and sacrifice not to the Confederacy but as (in the case of Kelly), “a faithful Negro slave,” right there in the very first line of the marker.

The files are thin — the THC was less diligent about documentation in past decades than they are now — but neither file contains any contemporary documentation of its subject at all. Both amount to a recording of local oral tradition, which is vivid not though always reliable. Both accounts make it explicitly clear that the two men went to war as personal servants, Vesey to General William Lewis Cabell, and Kelly to the West brothers, troopers in the Eighth Texas Cavalry. But it’s very thin stuff to spin into a claim that “the number of black Texans who participated in the Confederate Army in the War Between the States may have been as high as 50,000,” which would be a figure substantially higher than the entire male slave population of Texas between ages 15 and 50 in 1860, which was a bit under 44,000. Claims like that on White’s part seriously undermine his credibility.

Vesey’s and Kelly’s stories, as reflected in the marker files, are well worth reading, and telling. In Vesey’s case, his wartime experiences with General Cabell probably paled in comparison with his being captured by Indians a few years later and being held prisoner for three months, until his release was secured by one of the legendary characters of the Texas frontier during that time, Britt Johnson.

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Primus Kelly’s marker file, though, is much more interesting from the perspective of the advocacy for black Confederates, because included in the file is a 1990 article by Jeff Carroll on Vesey from Confederate Veteran magazine, the official publication of the SCV. The magazine article is a reprint of an article that first appeared in the Midlothian, Texas Mirror on May 31, 1990. Kevin has often suggested that the Confederate Heritage™ groups’ push to find black Confederates in the 1990s was, in part, a reaction to the success of the film Glory (1989), and its depiction of both African American Union soldiers. In light of that, it’s significant that Carroll’s article was originally published just six weeks after Denzel Washington won an Oscar for his role as Private Trip in that film, and moreover, was explicitly framed by its author as the “flipside”  to that work:

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If you’ve seen the movie Glory that won so many awards then you’ve heard and seen part of the story of those “free men of color” who joined the Union army during the War-Between-the-States. They proudly wore the blue of “Mr. Lincoln’s Army” and performed their duties with honor. But, there is a flipside to this story and that brings us to Primus Kelly.

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There’s no indication that Carroll referenced any materials on Kelly other than the text of the marker itself, but he embellishes that text with all sorts of assertions that are completely unsupported. Take, for example, this passage from the marker:

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At the outbreak of the Civil War, [John W. S.] West sent Kelly to take care of his three sons — Robert M., Richard and John Haywood — who joined the famous Terry’s Texas Rangers, where they served with distinction.

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In Carroll’s retelling, this becomes:

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Primus Kelly became the constant companion of John West’s three sons: Robert, Richard and John, Jr. Then came the War and all three boys joined Terry’s Texas Rangers. Primus refused to stay at home and when they boarded the train In Houston, he was there.

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There’s a world of difference between “West sent Kelly” and “Primus refused to stay at home,” but it’s entirely typical of the way advocates like Carroll depict African American men’s involvement with the Confederate army; it’s always shown as voluntary choice, motivated by noble intent, never out of legal obligation or against their wishes.

The is no evidence in the historical marker files of Kelly’s relationship with the West sons, much less the suggestion that they were “constant companions.”  Carroll begins his essay by making the generalized claim that “custom often dictated that the sons of a slave owner received as their own property and slaves of their own age when they’ were children. They were daily and inseparable companions who shared the experience of growing up and became surrogate brothers,” and then paints that assertion right across Primus Kelly. He characterizes Kelly’s relationship with the Wests as that of “brothers” three more times in five short paragraphs, based (as far as I can tell) on no evidence whatsoever. We’ve seen claims like these made falsely before.

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PrimusKelly

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It’s also highly unlikely that Primus Kelly would have been an “inseparable companion” to any of the West brothers, given the difference in their ages. According to the 1870 U.S. Census (above), Primus Kelly was born about 1847, making him much younger than Robert (age 22 upon enlistment in 1861, giving him a birthdate of c. 1839), John (age 27 upon enlistment in 1861, birthdate c. 1834), or Richard (age 32 upon discharge in January 1863, birthdate c. 1831). Primus Kelly was about eight years younger than the youngest of the Wests, and in fact was barely into his teens when he accompanied the Wests off to war. He was not a childhood companion of any of these men, and the three brothers were living at Lynchburg in Harris County — almost 100 miles away from their father in Grimes County — at the time of the 1860 census.

Carroll’s description of the Wests is somewhat misleading, as well. According to the marker, Richard was reportedly wounded twice in battle and escorted all the way back to Texas by Kelly. Carroll repeats this claim, without question. But if this happened, neither wound is recorded in his compiled service record at NARA. What is recorded is that Richard was given a medical discharge for chronic illness not related to combat injuries in January 1863, nine months after enlisting. It seems very unlikely that during those nine months, Richard West would have been twice wounded so severely that he required an extended convalescence back home in Texas, and made the round journey twice, without there being a record of it in his file.

The three brothers did not enlist together, as Carroll suggests; Robert and John, ages 22 and 27 respectively, enlisted in September 1861, when the regiment was first being organized, while their older brother Richard, age 31 or 32, didn’t join the regiment until May of 1862. Carroll cites Chickamauga (September 1863) and Knoxville (November/December 1863) as fights in which Terry’s Rangers participated, but only Robert might have been present, as he was taken prisoner sometime during the latter part of 1863. Richard was medically discharged, and John was dead. Robert died in April 1905, his obituary appearing in the Confederate Veteran magazine in July of that year.

Kelly is said to have followed the Wests into action, “firing his own musket and cap and ball pistol.” There are many such anecdotes from the war, and they may well be true in Kelly’s case. There is a report in the OR (Series I, Vol. XVI, Part 1, p. 805) by a Union officer from the Battle of Murfreesboro, July 1862, that “The forces attacking my camp were the First [sic., Eighth] Regiment Texas Rangers, Colonel Wharton, and a battalion of the First Georgia Rangers. . . . There were also quite a number of negroes [sic.] attached to the Texas and Georgia troops, who were armed and equipped, and took part in the several engagements with my forces during the day.” But if this is one of the events that Kelly participated in, it underscores the argument that those men were camp servants following their troopers into action, rather than troopers in their own right.

Did Carroll set out to fictionalize Primus Kelly’s story? I don’t know, but to all intents and purposes that was the result. The end product is as much happy fantasy as fact. And even then, it wouldn’t matter so much were it not that other authors have gone on to cite Carroll, including Kelly Barrow’s Black Confederate. In fact, the article is a mess, in which even knowable, factual information is misrepresented. Under the circumstances, I actually think there is one other thing that this article could appropriately borrow from Glory, and it comes right at the very, very end of the movie:

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This story is based upon actual events and persons.
However, some of the characters and incidents portrayed
and the names herein are fictitious, and any similarity
to the name, character, history of any person,
living or dead, or any actual event is entirely
coincidental and unintentional.

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Like so much else that’s been written about black Confederates in the last 23 years, Jeff Carroll’s article takes a kernel of fact, churns it in a bucket with inaccurate or flat-out-false information and untethered speculation, to create a warm-and-fuzzy story that reassures the Confederate Heritage™ crowd that it was all good, and there’s nothing particularly troubling or complex about any of it — because, you know, they were like brothers. The thing that’s notable about it is that (1) it’s undoubtedly one of the earliest of its type, (2) it’s offered explicitly as a corrective to the narrative presented in Glory, and (3) it so fully expresses the modern talking points that define the push to relabel men who used to be called (as in Kelly’s case) “a faithful Negro slave,” into something far more palatable for modern audiences.

I understand why people want to believe this happy nonsense; it takes a raw, ugly edge off a time and place they have chosen to embrace tightly. What I don’t understand is how someone like Norris White would fall for it. Unlike most of the folks who peddle this stuff, White presumably has the academic background and the research skills to dig into the weeds of this stuff, and understand what the sources actually say. (A good place to start is acknowledging that an historical marker by the side of the highway is not a primary source.) He has the skills and resources to say something new, but instead repeats the same half-truths that have been circulating for decades.

Please, Mr. White, tell Randolph Vesey’s story, and Primus Kelly’s. But tell them fully and completely. Any damn fool can read off the text of a roadside marker and pretend that’s research. You’re better than that, Mr. White, so show us.

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Update:

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64 Responses

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  1. Neil Hamilton said, on April 18, 2013 at 4:55 am

    Andy,

    Once again, thank you for taking the serious amount of time and effort to confront this latest ‘black confederate’ foray with fact and evidence, vice the myth and half-truths some wish so desperately to throw at this ongoing fantasy.

    It is sincerely appreciated.

    Neil

  2. BorderRuffian said, on April 18, 2013 at 8:07 am

    Number of blacks in Texas units-

    On the rolls: 50-100
    Servants: 2500-3000

  3. Cotton Boll Conspiracy said, on April 18, 2013 at 9:07 am

    Ultimately, such efforts to bolster the idea that there were black Confederates who willingly fought alongside white Confederates without substantive proof undermines whatever role blacks played in the Southern war effort – whether that role was willing or coerced.

    By making claims that can be easily refuted such as “the number of black Texans who participated in the Confederate Army in the War Between the States may have been as high as 50,000,” when, as you point out, the entire male slave population of Texas between ages 15 and 50 in 1860 was a bit under 44,000, automatically calls into question the credibility of the source.

    I suppose if one is preaching to the choir, it doesn’t matter, but I, for one, wouldn’t want to be called out on statements that simply don’t stand up to scrutiny.

    Part of the problem may be that we today don’t know exactly what duties specific blacks who “served” in the Confederate army handled. Of course, many today don’t realize that there was a complex infrastructure set up to support the men at the front involving a whole array of men, both black and white, such as teamsters, blacksmiths, sutlers, etc. Since they don’t understand the logistics of running an army, some default to the idea that any black man on the Southern side must have been literally fighting for the Confederacy. Others know better but are pushing an agenda.

    Personally, I’m interested in simply knowing what actually happened. The “why” is harder to get at, but that would be good to know, as well. This continued obfuscation isn’t helping us reach either of those goals.

    Your post is good because it highlights that fiction is being passed off as fact.

  4. Bob Nelson said, on April 18, 2013 at 10:28 am

    Thanks for that, Andy. For those of us who have been studying the CW for a number of years (about twenty for me going back to the old alt.war.civil.usa newsgroup), this topic of black Confederates comes up time and time again. It’s always the same. A few references here and there, a few sketchy stories, a few “reports” from Confederate reunions. I am sure that some African-Americans served the CSA as servants, cooks, teamsters and some may have “seen the elephant.” My response has always been, “Show me hard evidence of a black Confederate regiment or even a few black companies and I’ll become a convert.” Hasn’t happened yet. LOL

    • Andy Hall said, on April 18, 2013 at 10:32 am

      Bob, thanks. The point here is not that Vesey and Kelly shouldn’t be remembered — of course they should — but we need to understand them as whole persons, not two-dimensional, butternut cutouts to support someone else’s preferred narrative.

      • Bob Nelson said, on April 19, 2013 at 8:32 pm

        Oh, I agree Andy and I do not mean to demean any African-Americans who served the Confedereacy in whatever duty they fulfilled. I agree that Vessey’s and Kelly’s stories have value and should be told. But a few stories like these do not prove anything and IMO actually harm some kind of scholarly research of black Confederates because most people (as I did) will say, “Oh no, not that old can of worms again.”

        • Andy Hall said, on April 19, 2013 at 8:44 pm

          Agree entirely. This stuff distracts from really understanding their stories.

  5. Jim Schmidt said, on April 18, 2013 at 11:28 am

    Andy – great work and great writing. Apart from the Black Confederate story, two things in your post captured my interest

    1) Your diligence in looking up the background material for the markers…I had no idea that the supporting documentation for (albeit, older) markers could be so “shaky”

    2) There’s been little mention of White’s thesis advisor…I wonder what he thinks of this kind of work and whether/how he has supported it

    Absolutely excellent post, Andy

    • Andy Hall said, on April 18, 2013 at 11:43 am

      Thanks, Jim. The THC is much more diligent about those things now, I think, but there are some older markers granted on VERY sketchy evidence, and some are just flat untrue. Caveat lector.

      Some years back I did a term on my county’s Historical Commission, which among other things is supposed to coordinate and vet marker applications. When I (neophyte that I was) proposed submitting research for a marker, the chairperson told my I had to also submit copies of all the source material — not just citations, but the microfilm printouts, books, journal articles, everything. She explained they adopted that rule after a couple bought some historic house here, researched and submitted a marker application, and put the marker up on the now-officially-designated historic structure. They subsequently went around town bragging about how they’d put one over on the county and the state historical commissions, and had completely fabricated much of the information in their application. I don’t know which house it was, or if anything ever happened to their designation*, but it was an ugly mess, where unscrupulous people took advantage of others.

      * I do, however, have a fantasy that Texas Rangers swooped in on the house at 3 a.m., and ripped the marker off the wall with gold-plated crowbars.

  6. Bummer said, on April 18, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    Andy,
    Thanks again for the research and straight talk, you have the ability to call’em as you see’em. Others follow your lead.
    Bummer

    • Andy Hall said, on April 18, 2013 at 1:54 pm

      Thanks, Bummer, I try to, but it does seem to cause heartburn in some quarters. A few months also I posted the pension records of one of the best-known of all “black Confederates.” That was quite the shit-storm.

  7. terry6400 said, on April 18, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    You Yanks claim to love black folk, or at least that was the premise you claim for going to war. Freeing the slaves and all.

    If you Yanks love black folk so much, why do you spend so much time trying to discredit their service to the Confederacy. That’s disrespectful of the black folk you love. Black Confederates do exist. Accept it and move on, or do you have another agenda you trying to prove.

    That black slave who went to war with his master is much a Confederate as Grant is a Yankee soldier. We southerners know why you must disprove Black Confederates, and your efforts are making you look silly.

    • Andy Hall said, on April 18, 2013 at 3:49 pm

      Sorry, Terry, you lost me at “you Yanks.” Have a nice day.

    • Kevin Levin said, on April 18, 2013 at 3:51 pm

      I guess you better retract the post, Andy. :-) Thanks again for showing your readers what is needed before one makes a claim about the historical past.

      • Andy Hall said, on April 18, 2013 at 3:56 pm

        I wonder who Terry meant by “you Yanks,” ’cause that’s not me. I kept looking around to see if he was addressing someone behind me.

      • Andy Hall said, on April 18, 2013 at 4:18 pm

        Once you’ve been looking at various “black Confederate” stories for a while, you begin to realize that most of them are the same story. The names change, the places change, the Confederate army unit may be different, but fundamentally it’s the same storyline, over and over. I believe that’s because most of what’s told amounts to a sort of generic, narrative spackle, troweled in heavy lumps to fill in the gaping holes in the historic record. Virtually nothing is known, for example, about Primus Kelly’s early life, even from the oral history that got recorded for the historical marker — so folks like Jeff Carroll come along and make up a happy and self-affirming story about “surrogate brothers” to smooth it all out. It’s nonsense.

  8. terry6400 said, on April 18, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    By your post I take it you don’t “love” black folk. Thanks for addressing my points. Brilliant absolutely brilliant.
    Should I have said, “you southern scalawags, who claim to hate blacks, and must discredit and disrespect black confederates?

  9. terry6400 said, on April 18, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    How bout showing us just what evidence you are willing to accept? The Official Record is not good enough, so what is good evidence – by your definition of course. Your explanation and dismissal of the OR are comical. And where is your evidence that “those men were camp servants following their troopers into action, rather than troopers in their own right.”

    • Andy Hall said, on April 18, 2013 at 4:53 pm

      I accept the account in the OR for exactly what it is, the account of a Union officer reporting what he saw. I included it in this post because Primus Kelly is said to have followed the Wests into action, and so I thought it relevant to include. My point is that if one accepts the claims made for Kelly in this regard, then it suggests that the men the Union officer saw were body servants, not (as some have claimed) 8th Texas troopers in their own right.

      As for evidence I am “willing to accept,” I’m happy to see all of it. What additional primary source material do you have on Primus Kelly or Randolph Vesey? Did I miss something?

  10. Al Mackey said, on April 18, 2013 at 5:14 pm

    Hmmm. I may not be a grad student, but I know that markers are not primary sources of anything other than how the war was being remembered at the time they were put up. I wonder how the Stephen Austin State University Department of History feels about his skills at handling historical evidence.

    • Andy Hall said, on April 18, 2013 at 6:15 pm

      Here’s the passage from the newspaper article linked in the post:

      Primary sources, White said, are “100 percent irrefutable evidence — letters, diaries, pension applications, photographs, newspaper accounts, county commission records and other evidence that give primary insight” that blacks were in the Confederate Army.

      For example, White found a Texas historical marker in Wise County that states Randolph Vesey was a respected Negro citizen and homeowner who served during the Civil War as body servant and voluntary battle aid to General W.L. Cabel of the Confederate Army.

      “If the Texas Historical Commission, the leading authority in preserving our history recognized the fact that there were black Texans who participated and served in the Confederate Army, then why can’t we as a society?” White said.

      I’m a little surprised at this, because White himself has (and flaunts) an affiliation with the THC, as a fellowship recipient. I’ve worked with the THC for more than 20 years, and I hold both the agency and many of its employees, past and present, in high regard. They’re good folks, and committed to public history. But the idea that the-THC-said-so-and-that-settles-it is just preposterous. Someone doing original research, as a graduate student must, should bring more critical thinking skills to the task. As I said at the end of the post, any damn fool can read the text off a roadside marker and pretend that’s research.

  11. BorderRuffian said, on April 18, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    …from Randolph Vesey marker-
    “During war years 1861-1865, some 30,000 to 50,000 negroes-free and slaves- aided Confederate Armies. They served with the Nitre and Mining Bureau and Departments of Medicine, Engineers, Quartermaster General, Ordnance and Commissary General. They built Fortifications on Coasts from Brownsville, Texas, to Norfolk, Virginia, and at Inland Points. Many were Army Teamsters, Wheelwrights, Blacksmiths, Butchers, Shoemakers, Cooks and Nurses. Texas and other States later provided land grants and pensions for many.
    (1965)”

    That’s about right.

    And several thousands are on the rolls of the Confederate army. You just have to know how to find them.

  12. Neil Hamilton said, on April 18, 2013 at 11:45 pm

    BorderRuffian,

    “During war years 1861-1865, some 30,000 to 50,000 negroes-free and slaves-aided the Confederate armies.”

    Not “served as soldiers” but “aided Confederate Armies.”

    I guess being told to ‘dig there,’ ‘haul here’ and ‘stack that over there,’ can count as “aided” but how many of the “30,000 to 50,000″ were forced, told, conscripted, etc., to provide that aid?

    The seemingly frantic desperation by heritage organizations of today to somehow equate forced or slave labor into a “Black Confederate” label just comes across as that, desperate or a deep, dark fear that slavery is going to have to be actually faced front and center.

    It is about time, don’t you think?

    Sincerely,
    Neil

    • Andy Hall said, on April 19, 2013 at 10:46 am

      I think the important takeaway from this thread is that if you point out that the historical record from the 1860s contradicts the stories being told more than a century later, you are trying to “discredit and disrespect black Confederates.”

  13. terry6400 said, on April 19, 2013 at 8:00 am

    How do you think white/free Confederates ended up in the Confederate Army? They were conscripted from the white population. When a white/free person is conscripted into the Confederate Army, does that mean he is not a Confederate Soldier, because he was forced. No frantic desperation here, just plain facts Neil.

    • John said, on April 19, 2013 at 12:09 pm

      “How do you think white/free Confederates ended up in the Confederate Army?” Roughly 80% volunteered. What do you think the percentage of volunteers amongst slaves was to the Confederate cause?

  14. BorderRuffian said, on April 19, 2013 at 11:07 am

    “The thing that’s notable about it is that (1) it’s undoubtedly one of the earliest of its type, (2) it’s offered explicitly as a corrective to the narrative presented in Glory, and (3) it so fully expresses the modern talking points that define the push to relabel men who used to be called (as in Kelly’s case) “a faithful Negro slave,” into something far more palatable for modern audiences.”

    Two sets of rules.

    During the Civil War, many in the North didn’t count the USCT as ‘real soldiers’ but laborers or auxiliaries (and without equal pay). And that same thought prevailed for decades. They were even denied admittance in veteran organizations after the war.

    So how are they presented to “modern audiences?”

    • Kevin Levin said, on April 20, 2013 at 4:48 am

      You said: ” They were even denied admittance in veteran organizations after the war.” This is why few people take you seriously. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Just pick up Barbara Gannon’s award-winning book, The Won Cause.

      • BorderRuffian said, on April 22, 2013 at 9:01 am

        You’re right. There were black members in the GAR…in segregated posts. But some places denied them even having a segregated post.

        That’s interesting – The GAR had segregated posts but Confederate veteran organizations allowed black members in their camps. Of course you and AH would say they were “pets” or “mascots” or some such demeaning term. That’s how y’all have been trained to think…or at least that’s the line you think have to spin.

        • kevlvn said, on April 22, 2013 at 1:09 pm

          Like I said, you need to read Barbara Gannon’s book. In fact, many of the posts were integrated and African Americans achieved notable positions within those camps. Please stop talking about this subject given that you apparently know very little. All you manage to do is dig a deeper hole for yourself.

          • BorderRuffian said, on April 22, 2013 at 6:49 pm

            The photographic evidence says something different. I did a random check of 20 group photos.
            Only four were integrated. Most were the 1 out of 50/100 category. One post had 4 black members out of 114. Just reflective of the times.

    • Mike Musick said, on April 20, 2013 at 3:31 pm

      The U.S. War Department and the U.S. army always classed the men formally enlisted into the U.S. Colored troops as soldiers, and issued them arms. The C.S. War Department and C.S. army, until March 1865, denied doing so for African Americans within their lines. Two sets of rules indeed.

      • terry6400 said, on April 21, 2013 at 7:57 am

        Wow, here we go again. Those awful, racist southern boys vs. the “holier than thou” northern boys. The Yanks saved us all from pure extension. How’s the present big government of Abraham Lincoln working out for you.

        Please don’t forget to mention who brought the first slave over from Africa. What flag was that flying over the slave ship. Let me help you remember. Yankees and the British brought the first African slave to America aboard a ship that was flying the American flag or the British flag.

        And tell us about the Piquet Indian slaves the Yanks bought and sold to the sugar plantations in the Caribbean, and please tell us how the Yanks cut the Piquet Indian slave’s toes off so they couldn’t run away.

        Oh, I forgot! The above can’t be true. It’s not recorded in the Official Record. Try telling that to the Piquet Indian slaves.

        • Andy Hall said, on April 21, 2013 at 10:02 am

          And I ask you again: What additional primary source material do you have on Primus Kelly or Randolph Vesey? Did I miss something?

        • Woodrowfan said, on April 21, 2013 at 10:49 am

          “What flag was flying over the (first) slave ship?”

          Portuguese.

        • Jimmy Dick said, on April 22, 2013 at 8:06 am

          The mere fact that you think the first African slaves came to the North American colonies on a ship flying the British or American flags indicates you have no sense of actual historical thinking rooted in fact. You’re just another example of people who use selective beliefs while ignoring historical facts.

          • Andy Hall said, on April 22, 2013 at 8:58 am

            It’s a hoary trope among folks like Terry that chattel bondage was a practice imposed on the South by unscrupulous Yankee merchants, and that the involvement of Americans in the slave trade generally does not have anything to do with Southerners.

          • terry6400 said, on April 22, 2013 at 10:25 am

            Okay Jimmy Dick suppose you tell us what flag was flying on the first slave ship? We won’t even bring into the debate at this point the enslaved Pequot Indians in Connecticut and New York. If you need reminded, Connecticut and New York are in the NORTH and not the SOUTH. I’ve never seen a Yankee address this point.

            I didn’t see any intelligent response from Jimmy Dick on the first slave ship, just sarcastic and immature replies. But that’s the usual response from the “holier than thou” crowd. Don’t bother to address my points, just attack the messenger or ignore valid points??

            Woodrowfan said the first slave ship was flying the Portuguese flag. Okay that’s fine, if true. My point is the first slave ship was NOT flying the Confederate flag as some on this blog would like to prove. Oh yea, Yankees spend considerable time trying to dispel the truth about slavery and Black Confederates, because to show even ONE Black Confederate blows Abraham Lincoln’s whole reason for invading the South out of the water, and proves Yankees have been wrong from the start.

            I know the fact that black folk had the slightest of anything to do with the Confederacy is deeply disconcerting to Yankees. Sort of disproves all the Lincoln lover’s excuses for defending a tyrant and making money off Yankee historical lies, paraded as fact.

            • Andy Hall said, on April 22, 2013 at 10:28 am

              “My point is the first slave ship was NOT flying the Confederate flag as some on this blog would like to prove.”

              I wonder who here ever suggested such a ridiculous thing.

              You’re unhappy with getting “just sarcastic and immature replies,” but keep in mind, Terry, that you started out here with insults and sarcasm. You’re not really in a position to demand better of others.

              And I’m still waiting for you explain (with sources) exactly what I got wrong on Kelly and Vesey.

              • terry6400 said, on April 22, 2013 at 11:16 am

                I read on another thread on this blog that “Black Union soldiers” were not invited to Gettysburg Reunions. What was the reason Black Union soldiers were refused an invite?

              • Andy Hall said, on April 22, 2013 at 11:34 am

                Stop trying to change the subject, Terry. Show me what I got wrong on Kelly and Vesey — with your sources.

              • terry6400 said, on April 22, 2013 at 11:55 am

                Sorry you have to do your own research. I’m sure you won’t have any trouble proving your point. The OR is full of your absolute proof on any given subject you bring up. If the OR and the figment of your imagination is not enough, then ignoring my points will do.

              • Andy Hall said, on April 22, 2013 at 12:00 pm

                Thanks for stopping by, Terry.

              • terry6400 said, on April 22, 2013 at 12:41 pm

                Maybe there is hope. I can give you irrefutable evidence on Kelly and Vesey right after you explain how you invented the term “body servant.” Where in the official record is the term?

              • Andy Hall said, on April 22, 2013 at 12:49 pm

                My name is Andy Hall, not Monty Hall, and this is not “Let’s Make a Deal.” It’s time for you to fish or cut bait, son. Post your “irrefutable evidence.”

              • terry6400 said, on April 22, 2013 at 1:01 pm

                My hope of you giving an intelligent response just died. My response on Kelly and Vesey absolutely hinges on your explanation of the term “body servant.” But I see you can’t do that, only a bunch of jokes and hot air.

              • Andy Hall said, on April 22, 2013 at 1:11 pm

                “Body servant” is used multiple times throughout the OR and the ORN. The first instance appears on p. 281 of Series I, Volume 3 of the OR. It was a common term, one that — you may not have noticed this — appears in the first sentence of Randolph Vesey’s historical marker. It also turns up in places like the old Confederate Veteran magazine, back in the day when it was written by actual old Confederates.

                Now, your “irrefutable evidence”?

              • terry6400 said, on April 22, 2013 at 2:58 pm

                Your evidence is no good. Historical markers are not evidence, and the Confederate Veteran magazine certainly is not evidence. Try again.

              • Andy Hall said, on April 22, 2013 at 3:02 pm

                Have a nice day, Terry.

              • terry6400 said, on April 22, 2013 at 3:15 pm

                I am lawyer Andy. I know proper evidence when I see it. All you have is hearsay evidence. Can’t prove a thing with hearsay evidence. Maybe you want to look up the meaning of “hearsay evidence?”

  15. Woodrowfan said, on April 21, 2013 at 10:47 am

    who the hell is this guy’s adviser? I wouldn’t have accepted this level of supposed research from one of my freshmen, let along a grad student!!!! Primary sources are “100 percent irrefutable evidence”??? Are you freaking kidding me?

  16. Jimmy Dick said, on April 22, 2013 at 6:27 pm

    If you’re a lawyer Terry my advice to anyone seeking legal help would be to avoid you at all costs. They would probably be better off with a kid in law school because so far you have done nothing but use nonfactual evidence, ignore actual facts, and then take off on a tangent away from the subject under discussion. All of which would be detrimental to your client’s cases.
    Since the United States did not come into existence until 1776 and slavery was already a well established fact in the colonies it is obvious to anyone that the first slaves were not brought here under the American flag. Furthermore the British flag was not available until after the union of England and Scotland in 1707. The first slaves in a British North American colony were in Jamestown around 1619 and were brought by a vessel under the Dutch flag. They were considered indentured servants though. The system of chattel slavery did not really develop until later in the 17th century. Please consult Edward Morgan’s American Slavery, American Freedom for an outstanding research effort in this subject. http://www.amazon.com/American-Slavery-Freedom-Edmund-Morgan/dp/039332494X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1366673190&sr=1-1&keywords=american+slavery%2C+american+freedom

    Your statement that USCT veterans were not invited to GAR reunions is a blatant lie typical of the Lost Cause crew. Research has shown that this is another deliberate attempt to infuse the Lost Cause myth into the American history. Please refer to Barbara Gannon’s The Won Cause: Black and White Comradeship in the Grand Army of the Repubic http://www.amazon.com/Won-Cause-Comradeship-Republic-America/dp/0807834521/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1366672748&sr=1-1&keywords=the+won+cause

    Furthermore you are only trying to move the conversation away from the original topic by referencing Pequots and slavery in the north. No one is refuting that it existed. You are following the exact pattern of the Heritage Instead of History crowd when facts are brought out that reveal their ignorance and they try to stir up a cloud to cover their failure to sustain an argument that uses actual facts.

    The Civil War was about slavery. You can bring up the Lost Cause lie all day long because it has been completely debunked as a deliberately fabricated myth and one that is falling to the wayside as people discover the truth for themselves.

    • Andy Hall said, on April 22, 2013 at 6:44 pm

      Let it go.

    • terry6400 said, on April 22, 2013 at 7:38 pm

      Jimmy Dick said, “Your statement that USCT veterans were not invited to GAR reunions is a blatant lie typical of the Lost Cause crew.”

      Sorry Jim, I didn’t make that statement. The statement comes from a Yankee who writes regularly on this blog. Search for it on this blog. You will find it, but not under my name.

      So, did the Confederate flag ever in the course of human existence fly over a slave ship? NO.

      But thank you for attempting to address my points. That’s more than I can say about most of this blog.

    • terry6400 said, on April 22, 2013 at 7:59 pm

      American Slavery, American Freedom

      This was a meticulously researched history of the economic and social conditions that facilitated the establishment of slavery in Virginia. Very well done. But if you are looking for a book about ‘American Slavery,’ this is not it. I was disappointed. I expected a broader book exploring the early decades of slavery throughout America, as the title suggests. But I reached page 355 here and realized unhappily that the end was approaching and no space had been devoted to slavery. Find the history of slavery elsewhere.

      • Jimmy Dick said, on April 23, 2013 at 10:00 am

        I guess that would depend on how you define American slavery. The book is outstanding in that it explains how and why slavery came to exist and then flourish in Virginia despite the fact that slavery contradicted the very principles put forth in the American Revolution. The fact that so many blacks fought on the side of the Americans during the Revolution is often forgotten and certainly was downplayed for many years because that clashed with the later development after 1800 that blacks were an inferior race and could not fight for their freedom. Of course that was a myth in itself because whites feared black slave uprisings more than just about anything which sort of contradicted the myth.
        I don’t know what research into slavery you are wanting, but it has been written by many historians. You are not going to find such a major work condensed on any blog, just bits and pieces of it.

        As for a confederate flag flying over a slave ship I don’t have any specific references, but I would venture a guess that there were some in the early years of the war. I’m sure some others would have the specifics on that. The importation of slaves to the South was a much debated topic before the war and during the writing of the confederate constitution. Until the US Navy got its blockade up and working confederate shipping made it through easily. There obviously was not a confederate navy that was going to intercept any shipping going to the ports of the South. Hopefully someone will put something up about that. It would be interesting to know.

        • Andy Hall said, on April 23, 2013 at 10:41 am

          The stuff about “no Confederate flag flew over a slave ship” is disingenuous, part of a tendency to disassociate the Confederacy of 1861-65 from any bad acts done under the aegis of the United States, ever. The American flag that flew over slavers prior to 1861 represented Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina and Mississippi as much as it did Massachusetts, New York, or Connecticut. Northern merchants did have a long and deep involvement in the slave trade but — duh! — that’s because they dominated every other their hand in it, it’s fundamentally wrong to view New England’s involvement as one that Southerners disdained. One of the most infamous of American slavers, Wanderer, sailed from New York but was owned and the voyage organized by South Carolinians and Georgians.


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