Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

“When we arm the slaves, we abandon slavery.”

Posted in African Americans, Memory by Andy Hall on June 30, 2011

In the winter of 1864-65, as the war ground down to its dénouement, the proposal to enlist slaves as Confederate soldiers became an increasingly heated matter of public discussion. While proposals to do so had popped up from time to time throughout the war, it wasn’t until the last winter of the conflict that they attracted serious attention by public officials, and the the ensuing debate was rancorous. Robert E. Lee himself reluctantly concluded that the enlistment of slaves as soldiers was an essential move, and endorsed a plan that would reward men who enlisted under it with their freedom. The Confederate Congress finally approved a plan for the enlistment of slaves — though without emancipation in return for their service — in the middle of March 1865, less than three weeks before the evacuation of Richmond. Too little, too late.

Georgia Governor Joseph E. Brown (right, 1821-94) was one of several high-ranking public officials who went on record to oppose any such measure, while it was still being debated in Richmond. In an address to both houses of the Georgia Assembly on February 15, 1865, Brown vehemently rejected both the notion that slaves could be made soldiers, and that the institution of slavery could survive the the resulting upheaval of social and racial order. Brown’s address was printed in the Athens, Georgia, Southern Watchman on March 1, 1865 (requires DjVu plug-in):

Arming the Slaves

The [Jefferson Davis] administration, by its unfortunate policy, having wasted our strength and reduced our armies, and being unable to get free men into the field as conscripts, and unwilling to accept them in organizations with officers of their own choice, will, it is believed, soon resort to the policy of filling them up by the conscription of slaves.

I am satisfied that we may profitably use slave labor, so far as it can be spared from agriculture, to do menial service in connection with the army, and thereby enable more free white men to take up arms; but I am quite sure that any attempt to arm slaves will be a great error. If we expect to continue the war successfully, we are obliged to have the labor of most of them in the production of provisions.

But if this difficulty were surmounted, we cannot rely on them as soldiers, They are now quietly serving us at home, because they do not wish to go into the army, and they fear, if they leave us, the enemy will put them there. If we compel them to take up arms, their whole feeling and conduct will change, and they will leave us by the thousands. A single proclamation by President Lincoln – that all who will desert us after they are forced into service, and go over to him, shall have their freedom, be taken out of the army, and be permitted to go into the country in his possession, and receive wages for their labor – would disband them by brigades. Whatever may be our opinion of their normal condition or their true interest, we can not expect them if they remain with us, to perform deeds of heroic valor when they are fighting to continue the enslavement of their wives and children. It is not reasonable for us to demand it of them, and we have little cause to expect the blessing of Heaven upon our effort if we compel them to perform such a task.

If we are right, and Providence designed them for slavery, He did not intend that they should be a military people. Whenever we establish the fact that they are a military race, we destroy our whole theory that they are unfit to be free.

But it is said we should give them their freedom in case of their fidelity to our cause in the field; in other words, that we should give up slavery, as well as our personal liberty and State sovereignty, for independence, and should set all our slaves free if they will aid us to achieve it. If we are ready to give up slavery, I am satisfied we can make it the consideration for a better trade than to give it for the uncertain aid which they might afford us in the military field. When we arm the slaves, we abandon slavery. We can never again govern them as slaves, and make the institution profitable to ourselves or to them, after tens of thousands of them have been taught the use of arms, and spent years in the indolent indulgences of camp life.

Brown’s argument that “whenever we establish the fact that they are a military race, we destroy our whole theory that they are unfit to be free,” mirrors the position of his fellow Georgian, Howell Cobb, who had famously written the previous month to the Confederate Secretary of War, James Seddon. “If slaves make good soldiers,” Cobb warned, “our whole theory of slavery is wrong — but they won’t make soldiers.

Brown then went on to reject the “monstrous doctrine” that the Confederate government had the authority to conscript slaves and emancipate them in return for their service, because to do so violated the fundamental right to property of the slaveholders. Such an act would constitute a “taking” of property that violated the most basic principles of the both national and state constitutions:

It can never be admitted by the State that the Confederate Government has any power directly or indirectly to abolish slavery. The provision in the Constitution which by implication authorizes the Confederate Government to take private property for public use only, authorizes the use of the property during the existence of the emergency which justified the taking., To illustrate: In time of war it may be necessary for the Government to take from a citizen a business house to hold commissary stores., This it may do (if a suitable one cannot be had by contract) on payment to the owner a just compensation for the use of the house. But the taking cannot change the title of the land, and vest it in the government. Whenever the emergency has passed, the Government can no longer legally hold the house, but is bound to return it to the owner. So the Government may impress slaves to do the labor of servants, as to fortify a city, if it cannot obtain them by contract, and it is bound to pay the owner just hire for the time it uses them. But the impressment can vest no title to the slaves in the Government for a longer period than the emergency requires the labor. It has not a shadow of right to impress and pay for a slave and set him free. The moment if ceases to need the labor the use reverts to the owner who has the title. If we admit the right of the Government to impress and pay for slaves to free them, we concede its power to abolish slavery, and change our domestic institutions at its pleasure, and to tax us to raise money for that purpose. I am not aware of the advocacy of such a monstrous doctrine in the old Congress by any one of the radical class of abolitionists. It certainly never found an advocate in any Southern statesman.

No slave can ever be liberated by the Confederate government without the consent of the States. No such consent can ever be given by this State without a previous alteration in her Constitution. And no such alteration can be made without the consent of her people.

It’s useful to remember the context of Brown’s address. Brown was intimately tied into the Confederate government at all levels; having held office since 1857, he was the longest-serving governor in the Confederacy. He spoke to the General Assembly in Macon, because the state government had evacuated its usual seat of Milledgeville in advance of Sherman’s army. While Sherman bypassed Macon, he’d left Milledgevillein ruins, cut a sixty-mile-wide swathe through Georgia to Savannah, and even now was marching north into South Carolina. And yet, even in the death throes of the Confederacy, Brown simply could not fathom the enlistment of African American slaves as Confederate soldiers.

Real Confederates didn’t know about black Confederates.
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Peter Phelps Was Not a “Negro in Grey”

Posted in African Americans, Memory by Andy Hall on May 15, 2011

Update, May 19.

After I posted this essay George Purvis, the author of the Negroes in Gray website, contacted the TSL again, asking for clarification on Peter Phelps. This was their reply, which he has also posted to the website:

In consulting with colleagues, it was discovered that the list of soldiers and widows believed to be African-American used to answer your previous question had been revised with the deletion of the name Peter Phelps and the addition of two other names.

We agree with your research that Peter Phelps is White. The additional names on the revised list are:

William A. Green Rejected of Burleson County
Turner Armstrong 38653 of Franklin County

We apologize for the incorrect information.

So we can call the case of Peter Phelps closed, I guess. For my part, I don’t think the TSL staff has anything to apologize for in this case; what they’d sent originally was an informal list, compiled by their staff over a period of time. It is what it is. It’s up to the rest of us to be careful and diligent consumers of historical information.

Recently one of the more outspoken online advocates for black Confederate soldiers (BCS) posted a link to a site that purports to list African Americans who, in one way or another, were part of the Confederate military effort during the Civil War. This person, who dismisses ideas like historical context, analysis and interpretation as “opinion” and “biased agenda,” insists that he’s only interested in “facts,” and has compiled this website in that vein. No interpretation, no discussion, no larger context. Just “facts.”

So I went to the Negroes in Grey website and, clicking on the menu at upper left, selected “The States, The People.” A fly-out menu lists several states, including Texas, so I clicked there. Immediately I was presented a transcript of a letter (presumably to the site’s owner) from the staff of the Texas State Library, explaining that they have no comprehensive means of searching for African Americans in their files. They did, however, explain that the staff there had, over a period of years,  compiled a list of sixteen applications in which either the applicant or his widow was believed by the staff to be African American, and included in the letter their names, counties and pension numbers. One that jumped out at me right away was Peter Phelps of Galveston County (No. 07720). Being a native of Galveston County myself, I determined to find out more about this guy. Who was Peter Phelps, and was he really a “Negro in Grey?”

Well, no. It turns out that Peter Phelps was a white man who married a mixed-race woman after the war, and it takes about two minutes with readily-available, online records to determine that. So what’s up with this “Negro in Grey” business?

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120 Years of Black Confederates

Posted in African Americans, Memory by Andy Hall on March 22, 2011

The existence of black Confederate soldiers has been asserted — and flatly refuted — longer than I’d imagined. From the St. Louis Republic, August 16, 1891:

On the much disputed question as to whether the South ever enlisted negro [sic.] soldiers, General Shelby writes to a friend denying that it was ever done. He himself, he says, solicited General Kirby Smith to allow him to enlist 10,000 negroes and move into Kansas, but General Smith’s reply was, “No; we will win or go to the grave before we enlist the negro.” “I thought it was a mistake,” says General Shelby, “in our leaders not placing blacks in the field, nor have I changed my opinion.”

I’ve said it before: real Confederates didn’t know about black Confederates.

____________________
Image: Joseph O. Shelby, via the Mid-Missouri Civil War Roundtable.

“You think I’m making this stuff up?” Um, yes, I do.

Posted in African Americans, Memory by Andy Hall on March 15, 2011

There’s been a vigorous discussion over at Kevin’s regarding the scholarship of Edward Smith, an Assistant Professor of Anthropology who’s frequently cited as “the foremost authority in America on black Confederates and the participation of blacks for the Southern side in the War Between the States.” But apart from a 1989 presentation to the Civil War Society, an article in Civil War Magazine that same year (which apparently draws heavily on the dubious Steiner account of Frederick), and several presentations since then, Smith has not, as far as I can tell, published anything scholarly on the matter.

While poking around the web today, I came across this quote, included in the transcript of a 1998 Washington City Paper article:

Carved in stone [sic.] – plain as day – is a black Confederate in uniform marching alongside his comrades-in-arms. According to Smith, it is a clue to a secret history. “When you look at that [Confederate memorial at Arlington], and you see this black guy in uniform, that’s undeniable,” he says. “And the sculptor, Moses Ezekiel, a Confederate veteran, he knew what those units looked like, and therefore, to not include that black soldier in that statue, he would have created a lie.”

A native Virginian and graduate of Virginia Military Institute, Ezekiel fought at the Battle of New Market, where several black Confederate soldiers saw action. (A recent re-enactment at the Shenandoah Valley battlefield featured one black man in gray.) Smith says it’s often difficult to convince people that blacks fought for the South; and it’s even harder explaining that the creator of a graven image of a black Rebel was himself a Jewish Rebel. “[American University] is a very Jewish campus,” he says. “I tell my Jewish colleagues that there were over 10,000 Jews in the Confederacy. I say, ‘Who the hell do you think put the monument over there in Arlington Cemetery? His name was Moses Ezekiel – you can’t get any more goddam Jewish than that. You think I’m making this stuff up?”

You don’t really want an answer to that last question, do you?

But he doesn’t stop with the figure on the monument; Smith goes on to claim in the piece that tens of thousands of African Americans fought as combatants in Confederate ranks. Using Steiner’s figure of 3,000 black men he claims to have seen, “Smith says that if you take this figure and extrapolate it to the rest of the Southern army, his estimate of 50,000 is conservative.”

Historians specializing in the African American experience in the Civil War challenged Smith’s claims:

[Ervin] Jordan readily admits that he hasn’t uncovered tens of thousands of black Confederates in wartime Virginia – in fact, he’s found barely a fraction of that. And many of those weren’t the black-power Rebs making the rounds at re-enactments today; they had to hide their race to get their horse and pistol. Often, they were light-skinned blacks who passed – usually with a knowing wink – as whites to gain their place in a regiment. (In one unit, a black volunteer was even mockingly mustered as an “honorary white” soldier.)

Asa Gordon, then head of the Washington, D.C.-based Douglass Institute of Government and now Secretary General of the Sons and Daughters of United States Colored Troops, was more blunt in the 1998 article: “Ed knows that a lot of what he’s saying is garbage, but he is able to separate himself from the pack of true black scholars.”

This post is not intended as a slam on Smith personally. He’s clearly a compelling educator, and one of his students took time at Kevin’s to speak highly of him. But I do want to point out that there are real, and serious, limitations to his work on BCS as it’s generally cited. Smith seems to be a self-taught cultural anthropologist of sorts, specializing in the African American experience. This is a valuable and important skill, and his work undoubtedly becomes more valuable to the Anthro Department at AU with every passing year. I’ve met folks like Smith who without much formal training are genuine treasures to their universities, valued for their experience, their connections to the community, and the institutional memory they carry.

But lookit — Smith’s undoubted experience and longevity in cultural anthro doesn’t get him any closer to being able to look critically at the historical, documentary record on African Americans in the Confederacy in 1861-65 than any other layperson. Formal, academic training in history isn’t just sitting in class and learning a bunch of obscure historical facts. More than anything else, practicing history involves looking closely at the original documents — diaries, newspaper accounts, memoirs, photographs, and so on — and asking hard questions that go beyond the actual words on the page. It involves making decisions what sources, what witnesses, are reliable and which are questionable. It involves looking at the likely intentions and audience of the author. It involves looking for corroborating sources. Most of all, it involves knowing the limitations of the sources themselves, and imposing a constant check on oneself against reading too much into any single source.

And you certainly don’t take an account like Steiner’s, which is questionable to begin with, and extrapolate that out into tens of thousands of black men in the Confederate ranks across the South.

It doesn’t take a faculty appointment at a university or an advanced degree to write history well, but it does take a systematic and critical approach to the work, and to the source material. What I’ve seen so far of Smith’s is largely lacking in that regard. Those who cite Smith as “the foremost authority in America on black Confederates” seem not to understand these limitations in his work. (For that matter, they don’t know enough to get Smith’s actual title right.) Instead they see Smith’s affiliation with American University, and latch onto that as an imprimatur of his work on BCS. (Something similar goes on with university economists Walter Williams and Thomas DiLorenzo, both deemed intellectual heavyweights of modern Lost Cause historical narrative, neither of whom have published peer-reviewed, scholarly works on the subject.)

As I’ve said many times, we all stand or fall on the quality of the work we do, regardless of professional affiliation, formal educational attainment, or title. What I’ve seen of Smith’s work, and the claims based upon it, don’t really measure up.

__________________

Richard Quarls and the Dead Man’s Pension

Posted in African Americans, Genealogy, Memory by Andy Hall on February 12, 2011

Kevin recently highlighted a story done by a local news station in Florida on Richard Quarls, in honor of Black History Month. Quarls is one of the better-known “black Confederate soldiers,” and in 2003 had a Confederate headstone placed over his grave by the local SCV and UDC groups.

In watching the video it occurred to me that, as presented, there are two narratives being told in the segment about Richard Quarls. One, as told by his great-granddaughter, Mary Crockett, is that of a slave who accompanied his master’s son to war. Ms. Crockett’s account, passed through her family, is clear about his status and role in the war, recounting that “when the master’s son got shot, and fell, [Quarls] picked up the gun, started firing the gun, and defending him while he laid on the ground.” The son is identified here as H. Middleton Quarles, who was killed in fighting at Maryland Gap, Maryland on September 13, 1862. It may have been in that action that Richard Quarls picked up Private Quarles’ rifle. There’s no reason to doubt Ms. Crockett’s account of her great-grandfather’s experience although, as always, family reminiscences are invariably subject to the vagaries of oral traditions passed from one generation to the next.

The second narrative is that overlaid by the SCV, which “discovered” Quarls’ military service and sponsored the headstone and memorial service. This second narrative is largely reflected in the dialogue of the news report, which is sprinkled with dramatic-sounding but vague phrases that blur the distinction between soldier and servant, slave and free. We are cautioned that “historians disagree about their numbers and how they served,” but also assured that “he may have been a servant and rifleman.” It’s suggested that he may have fought in thirty-three battles, and the viewer is told that at the end of the war Quarls was “honorably discharged.” It’s an impressive story to a general audience, but the historian immediately notices that there are very, very few specific facts presented that can be cross-checked against primary sources.

As noted in the video clip, the key element in identifying Quarls’ supposed service as a soldier is his pension record from the State of Florida (10MB PDF). The pitfalls of working with Confederate pension records have been discussed in detail elsewhere, and generally speaking, are less than fully-reliable in determining an individual’s status in 1861-65. They are particularly problematic on the case of Richard Quarls, and actually raise more questions about his wartime service than they answer.

Quarls applied for a pension in Pinellas County, Florida on July 10, 1916. On the first page of the application, he claims that he enlisted in Company K, 7th South Carolina Infantry, at Camp Butler, South Carolina, sometime in 1861. He gives his name upon enlistment as Richard Quarls. He claims to have been discharged in 1865 “near Richmond” Virginia, in 1865, on account of “Lee’s surrender.” The inference is that Quarls served almost the entire war with the 7th South Carolina Infantry. Quarl’s service claims were attested to by two witnesses, T. B. and O. W. Lanier. Both testified to have known Quarls during the war, affirmed his membership in the unit, and that they witnessed his full service as described in the application. These basic elements of his record during the war, claimed on the initial application, appear to have been accepted without question by the SCV, and form the wartime history of Richard Quarls that is now repeated as historic fact, his story being picked up by even non-Civil War authors, including Ann Coulter. (Coulter says Quarls’ grave was unmarked before the installation of the SCV’s stone, which is not true.) In fact, those self-same pension records cast serious doubt on much of what is “known” about Richard Quarls’ service during the Civil War.

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Jubilo! on the Appeal of Black Confederates to African Americans

Posted in African Americans, Genealogy, Memory by Andy Hall on February 3, 2011

A new blog came online a few weeks back, that I want to highlight because of some very smart writing by a blogger going by the handle lunchcountersitin. Jubilo! The Century of Emancipation deals with much more than the Civil War, but as the central event in American history during the nineteenth century, that conflict gets particular attention. Here’s what strikes me as an insightful read on the phenomenon of modern-day African Americans embracing Southron Heritage™ groups’ designation of their ancestors as Confederate soldiers, willingly fighting for the Confederate cause:

We’ve seen this before: black families filled with honor at the recognition given to their enslaved ancestors, for the reason that those ancestors somehow fought for what was a pro-slavery regime. The sense of conflict inherent in that is hardly mentioned. I got to thinking: how is it that so many black families ignore these details of their ancestors’ lives, status, and circumstances? Why is it that they are not addressing a key part of the story? After a little bit of thought, the answer was obvious. Black folks are like everyone else: they want to feel that their ancestors were heroes.

Simply put, there is no honor or glory in acknowledging that a long deceased relative was near a battlefield solely to do menial work as act of submission and service to a slave master. People would much rather believe that their ancestors were called to fight – which would be a recognition of their manhood, of their worthiness to do battle, and of their willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice.

But here’s the rub: if these slaves were in fact recognized for their manhood and worthiness – then why were they slaves in the first place? The reality is, black men were seen as degraded, to use a common term of the era, and subservient. Loyalty, not the capacity for courage, was most valued in a slave. After all, a bondsman who was intrepid enough to flee for his freedom – and perhaps fight for the Union – was of no use to a slavemaster on the battlefield.

But people of today want to see their ancestors through their own eyes, and they want to see those ancestors as brave and courageous. This focus on “bravery not slavery” dovetails perfectly with the “heritage not hate” narrative of groups like the Sons of Confederates Veterans. By maintaining an unspoken rule to avoid the unspeakable – the horrors of slavery and the contradiction of a slave fighting for a slave nation – both sides get to honor their ancestors without pondering the issues this “service” raises.

Obviously this is generalizing, and as such can’t really be ascribed to this or that specific descendant. People were complicated in 1865, and they’re complicated in 2011. But on a human level, it makes a lot of sense that this is at least part of the equation.

An Update on the “Last Confederate Reunion”

Posted in African Americans, Memory by Andy Hall on January 23, 2011

A couple of months ago I did a post on a 1944 event in Montgomery, Alabama that was billed as the “Last Confederate Reunion.” In late 2009, the blog Confederate Digest had posted the image above, under the triumphant headline “Black Confederate, Dr. R. A. Gwynne, among the last Confederate Veterans of Alabama.” As I posted in November, it’s a dubious claim. A long, contemporary account of the reunion in the Alabama Historical Quarterly (Vol. 06, No. 01, Spring Issue 1944) mostly ignores Gwynne’s presence relative to the seven white attendees, but also mentions that he was 90 years old at the time. If that were true, he could not have been more than 11 at the end of the war — an child even by 19th century standards. Confederate Digest apparently overlooked this detail, in its intent to establish what one commenter referred to as “the indisputable fact that thousands of blacks, both slave and free, willingly served in the Confederate armed forces, defending their homeland against a brutal, invading northern army.”

I couldn’t find much more about R. A. Gwynne at the time, but last week I reposted my November piece at The Atlantic, and in response got a lot of very interesting and helpful comments. One regular commenter there, Alabama_Girl, noted that Guinn was a common name in north-central Alabama, and asked if I’d tried alternate spellings for the name. I hadn’t, but having now done so, I think we may know considerably more about Gwynne’s personal history. It also casts further doubt on Gwynne serving in any military capacity, given that he may in fact have been even younger at the time than previously suggested. He likely had not seen his tenth birthday by the time the war ended.

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“Mr. Holland of Grimes”

Posted in African Americans, Media, Memory by Andy Hall on January 11, 2011

Update, October 15, 2011: In the comments, Lynna Kay Shuffield provides an update on the death of Holland’s first wife, Samuella, and two of their children in October 1865. This profile has been updated to reflect that new information, as indicated in blue text — thanks!

If you type James Kemp Holland’s name into a search engine, you’ll quickly discover that he “became the highest ranking black, rising to the rank of Colonel and served on the staff of Governor Pendleton Murrah of Texas.”  This story has been picked up a number of places, including on H. K. Edgerton’s SouthernHeritage411 website.

Except that Colonel Holland wasn’t black, or of mixed race. James Kemp Holland is a case study of how well-intentioned but lax research can go very, very wrong.

James Kemp Holland (left, in later life) was born in 1822 in Tennessee. His family emigrated to the Republic of Texas in 1842 and settled in east Texas, what is now Panola County. In fact, family tradition holds that James Kemp Holland’s father, Spearman Holland, named Panola County, using a Native American word of cotton. The extended Holland family were planters, with large holdings in land and slaves.

Spearman Holland (1802-1872) was heavily involved in local and state politics. He was serving in the Texas Legislature when the Mexican War  began, and returned to East Texas from Austin with orders from the governor to raise a raise a company of mounted rangers. James Kemp Holland, at 24, was deemed too young to command the company, so his uncle Bird Holland was appointed captain. James Kemp Holland was subsequently elected lieutenant “by acclamation.”

At the opening of the Battle of Monterrey, Holland’s company was assigned to accompany a battery of the U.S. 3rd Artillery, commanded by Captain Braxton Bragg, positioned opposite the city’s main gate. When the Mexicans fell back, the Texans moved into the city proper where the fighting became close and heated:

Captain Bird Holland, having become disabled, it was here that Lieutenant Holland won his spurs when he made his dash into the city, gallantly leading the Second battalion of the Second Texas Mounted Volunteers under a galling fire from the Old Moor Fort and all the guns along the city’s fortification. Upon dismounting and scaling the walls of the city, the Seventeenth Rangers were again thrown with Captain Bragg on one of the main thoroughfares. And now the Battle of House-tops began, and from every roof and cross street came leaden hail.

The rangers were driven within, where they fought through the houses and walls. Later upon the house-tops the fight went bravely on, the Mexican soldiers disputing every inch of ground.

While this was going on, Bragg was sweeping the streets, and General Ampudia, who was present with the flower of the army, was driven pell mell towards the main plaza, where they intended making a last stand, but with a “little more grape” from Captain Bragg the white flag soon went up.

During the house to house and hand to hand conflict. Lieutenant Holland saw that across the street Texas Rangers were firing from the lower door and windows at the retreating Mexicans down the street, and Mexican soldiers on the top of the parapetted roofs of the same houses, were firing back at the Texans, neither knowing of the proximity of the other!


House-to-house fighting during the Battle of Monterrey. Library of Congress.

Lieutenant Holland’s uncle, U.S. Commissary Captain Kemp S. Holland, later died in camp before the Battle of Buena Vista, and Lieutenant Holland was assigned to bring his body back to Texas for burial. This appears to be the end of James Kemp Holland’s military experience until sometime during the Civil War.

James Kemp Holland soon followed his father into politics, serving in the Texas House of Representatives in the Third Legislature (November 1849 to December 1850). He was appointed U.S. Marshal for Eastern Texas in 1851, but successfully ran for state senator and served in the Fifth Legislature (November 1853 to February 1854). Sometime after that he relocated to Grimes County, northwest of Houston. He returned to the Texas House in late 1861, where he served alongside his father, who was referred to in the House Journal as “Mr. Holland of Panola,” while James Kemp Holland was known as “Mr. Holland of Grimes.”


James Kemp Holland in the 1850 U.S. Census for Panola County. His occupation is listed as “Representative.”


In early 1854 James Kemp Holland married Samuella Andrews in Houston. At this time James Kemp Holland was thirty-two, and Samuella about eighteen. By the time of the 1860 census, James Kemp and Samuella Holland had three children — Bettie, age 6, Lilly, age 4, and a son, J. D. A. Holland, age 2.


Holland’s property (lower left) just before the Civil War, located just northeast of present-day Navasota, along the Brazos River. The county seat, Anderson, appears at upper right. Texas General Land Office.


At the time of the 1860 census, Holland was a wealthy planter along the western border of Grimes County, just northeast of present-day Navasota. The census that year valued his land holdings at $15,000, and his personal property at $25,000. Holland does not appear in that year’s slave schedules, although $25,000 in that time and place would usually indicate property in slaves.


Holland in the 1860 U.S. Census for Grimes County.


During the early part of the Civil War, James Kemp Holland served in the Texas House of Representatives. He reportedly declined a nomination to the Texas Secession Convention, but was elected to serve in the the Ninth Legislature, November 1861 to March 1863. In 1863 he was appointed aide-de-camp to Governor Pendleton Murrah (left). A letter survives from the spring of 1864 in which the governor, writing to the Confederate general commanding the District of Texas, introduces Colonel Holland and asks that he not be interfered with in his travels around the state:

Executive Department
Austin 13th April 1864

Maj Genl
J. B. Magruder
Sir:

Col. J. K. Holland is aid de camp to the executive of Texas appointed and commissioned by authority of her Laws — I need his services and [ask] that he may not be annoyed in his movements — you will do me a favor by endorsing this statement [and issuing] an order — that he shall not be interfered with by any military officers & that his commission shall be respected by those under your command. He is a planter of Grimes County.

I have the honor to be
Your Obt Svt,
P. Murrah


Governor Murrah’s letter of introduction for Col. Holland. Footnote.com


Based on the letter, it seems likely that Colonel Holland served at the governor’s liaison for military affairs around the state. Murrah was not in good health — he died in Mexico of tuberculosis shortly after the end of the war — and may not have traveled as much as a healthier man might be able to.


Early mention of Holland’s title of “colonel,” Texas State Gazette, April 4, 1854.


It’s not clear what sort of formal commission Holland held as colonel, apart from Governor Murrah’s assertion that it was “by authority of her Laws.” He almost certainly didn’t “rise” to the rank of colonel in any conventional sense; he undoubtedly was appointed at that rank. It’s also worth mentioning that, while his only previous known military experience was as a very junior officer in the Mexican War, he was already being addressed as “Colonel James K. Holland” a full decade before Murrah’s letter, when the Texas State Gazette used the title in announcing his marriage to Samuella Andrews. It was a tradition of sorts in Texas and across the South in the 19th century to address prominent men with a military background — almost any military background — by an inflated military title. It was such a common practice that it was even joked about, as when one old Hood’s Brigade veteran composed a ditty,

It’s General That and Colonel This
And Captain So and So.
There’s not a private in the list
No matter where you go.

After the war, James Kemp Holland returned Grimes County. There, Holland soon suffered great personal tragedy, the deaths of his wife Samuella and two of their young children John D. A. Holland, age 7, and Nannie Hicks Holland, age 5. The Houston Telegraph carried the following obituary on October 18, 1865:

DIED – At Farmingdale, Grimes county, on the 2nd October, John D. A., and Nannie Hicks, only son and youngest daughter of Col J. K. and Samuella Holland. They died almost at the same moment of Congestion, and on the 5th instant, Mrs. Samuella Holland, after forty-one days of suffering – disease, Gastro Interetis.

“Leaves have their time to fall,
And flowers to wither in the night-wind’s breath;
But all – thou hast all
Seasons for thine own! O, Death!”

The fairest picture of happiness on earth, “the only bliss that has survived the fall,” is an unbroken family household, where love and peace and harmony reign. Such was this domestic circle until the angle Death came and bore away one half of its number to their heavenly home.

Mrs. Holland was the daughter of Col L. D. and Eugenia Andrews, of this city, and one of the loveliest daughters of Texas; as pure and excellent in character, as she was fair and beautiful in person. She was a true woman, having all those feminine qualities which call forth admiration and affection from all classes. Although possessing intellectual culture, and those accomplishments which adorn society, the pomp and pleasure of life had no adornments for her. Her only happiness was in her home, where she was enshrined the idol of an adoring husband – the guide and companion of her children, and all that was perfect in the eyes of her faithful and devoted servants.

She had long been a conscientious Christian, and when our Heavenly Father called her she was ready, and the stream of her life passed away calmly and peacefully into the great ocean of eternity.

“So beautiful, she well might grace,
The bowers where angles dwell;
And waft their fragrance to His throne
Who “doeth all things well.”

Though he had served as an aide to Confederate Governor Murrah — and his uncle Bird Holland had been killed in action leading his Confederate regiment during the war — James Kemp Holland appears to have been committed to the smooth reunification of North and South, and a supporter of President Andrew Johnson’s relatively lenient Reconstruction policies. Along with Andrew Jackson Hamilton (left), a prewar U.S. Representative from Texas and the state’s first military governor under Reconstruction, Holland was a delegate representing Texas at the National Union Convention (also known as the Southern Loyalist Convention) in Philadelphia in August 1866.

Around 1867 he married Annie W. Jefferson, and together they had four children — daughters Ella, Louise, and Jessie, and one son, Earnest. In the 1870 U.S. Census, Holland’s property was valued at $1,800, and his personal property at $1,100. Unusually, his daughters from his first marriage, Betty and Lilly, ages 13 and 12 respectively, are each listed as holding $9,000 in real estate. Presumably this was being held in trust for them by their father.


The Holland family in the 1870 U.S. Census.


By 1880, Holland and his family had moved one county over, to Washington County, where they’d settled at Chappel Hill. It was a large household; in addition to Annie and four children, Annie’s mother and the mother’s sister were living with James Kemp Holland, along with another middle-aged widow, Susan Pierce, of unknown relationship to the family.


Holland and his family, residing in Chappel Hill, Washington County, in the 1880 U.S. Census.


In his later years, James Kemp Holland worked as a real estate agent in Austin, both on his own and with partners. He died after a carriage accident in 1898 in Tehuacana, Texas, east of Waco in Limestone County.

Obviously the foregoing is not a full-length biography of James Kemp Holland, nor does it represent exhaustive research incorporating all possible sources. But nowhere in the primary source materials available did I find anything that indicated James Kemp Holland was black, or of mixed race.

There are four available census rolls for Holland, spanning 1850 to 1880. (The 1890 U.S. Census was destroyed in a fire.) Of those four, none designate him black or “mulatto.” The 1850 censuses uses a tick mark ( – ) that continues uninterrupted for page after page of the enumeration, apparently as a sort of “ditto;” the 1860 census carries no notation for anyone for several pages; the 1870 and 1880 censuses explicitly designate each member of the Holland household as white.

None of the mentions I found of James Kemp Holland in a variety of sources published during his lifetime or soon after his death carried any suggestion that he was of mixed race or black. I saw no instance of “colored” or “mulatto” or “Negro” appended to his name in newspaper articles, directories, or official documents like the Texas House Journal, compiled and printed at a time when such notations were almost universal. There’s no mention of it in any biographical sketch I’ve seen, such as that published in the print edition of the Handbook of Texas.

Nor, frankly, is it especially plausible that a black or mixed-race man could hold a series of high elected and appointed offices in a state as virulently white supremacist as antebellum Texas. Free persons of color were an extreme rarity in Texas. Their presence was actually outlawed in the republic at the time the Hollands immigrated to Texas, and they were prohibited from owning land; there was a famous case in which a free black who had aided the Texas Revolution required — literally — an act of Congress to retain title to the land grant he’d been awarded for his services. Even after statehood, laws restricting the activities and rights of free persons of color were among the most repressive in the South. The free population of black and mixed-race persons in antebellum Texas was vanishingly small, and shrinking: 397 in 1850, and just 355 a decade later. (There were more than ten times that number of free colored persons in 1860 in Charleston County, South Carolina, alone.) During that same period, the slave population exploded, from 58,161 to 182,566, an increase of more than 200%. The free black population of Panola (1850) and Grimes (1860) Counties, where James Kemp Holland lived at the time of those censuses, were 2 and 1, respectively.

In short, the only place I find even a suggestion that James Kemp Holland was black or of mixed race is online, when he’s identified as a “black Confederate.” It is neither evidenced in primary sources, nor plausible in the context of the time and place.


Where did the notion come from that James Kemp Holland was black, or of mixed race? I’m not certain, but there are two possible sources I’ve found that may be the source of confusion.

The first is this webpage on the early history of the black community in Panola County. The page — and several others that repeat the same information — goes into considerable detail on the Holland family, including James Kemp Holland, because they were among the first large-scale planters in the area and their bondsmen formed the initial black community there, Holland Quarters. It doesn’t make the claim that James Kemp Holland was black, or of mixed race, but the page is such a poorly-organized mishmash of history, genealogy and commentary that it’s easy to be confused. A casual read of the page could easily lead one to believe that James Kemp Holland was himself a man of color.

The second possible source is the famous Handbook of Texas, the standard, quick-reference guide to the region’s history. Both the online and final print versions of the Handbook include biographies of Bird Holland that mention that he fathered three sons by a slave woman, one of whom was named James. It seems possible that this James Holland was confused for his first cousin, James Kemp Holland, leading one to believe that the latter was a man of mixed race.

Using either of these resources, it would be easy to get the impression that James Kemp Holland was black, or of mixed race. But — and this is important — it’s equally easy to correct. Even a little digging in readily-available, online sources would cast doubt on that notion of James Kemp Holland’s race. But as so often happens with men identified as “black Confederates,” it would seem that little other digging was done to actually establish much at all about his life or career.

It’s all very sloppy, and very misleading. It doesn’t have to be this way, and shouldn’t. A little due diligence, a little more digging, would have completely avoided this misrepresentation.

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James Kemp Holland portrait from the Texas House Journal of the Ninth Legislature, First Called Session. Pendleton Murrah portrait from the Texas State Preservation Board.

Thomas Tobe and the Limits of Confederate Pension Records

Posted in African Americans, Genealogy, Memory by Andy Hall on January 2, 2011

Note: This post has been updated since it originally went online, to reflect Tobe’s service at a Confederate military hospital. Major changes from the original are marked in blue.

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Corey Meyer, who blogs at The Blood of My Kindred, has been taking a closer look at pension records of individuals who have been claimed to be African Americans who served as soldiers in the Confederate Army. I think this is the right approach, for two reasons. First, it’s a rational way to cut through the routine (and unproductive) back-and-forth shouting of, “no, you’re wrong!”, to get at the actual evidence in specific cases. Second, this sort of methodical, “micro” approach to the evidence is much more likely to identify and confirm the existence of actual, verifiable African Americans who may have served as soldiers. Establishing a half-dozen solid, ironclad examples of such men that can be fully documented in contemporary records will do a better service to Civil War historiography that a thousand unidentified, undated photos of old black men at Confederate veterans’ reunions — let alone the outright frauds that occasionally turn up. It’s hard to find the proverbial needle in the haystack when someone’s throwing fistfuls of straw at you.

Recently, Corey took up the case of one Thomas Tobe (c. 1839 – 1922), a free African American man from Newberry County, South Carolina, who reportedly went to war with Company G of the 7th South Carolina Cavalry, Holcombe’s Legion. Tobe has been identified as a soldier based, it seems, entirely on the content of a 1919 South Carolina pension application where the local board ruled that Tobe had served as a soldier, and includes the notation that Tobe “was a free Negro who volunteered in this company and served to the end of war.” While the claim here is specific, the document (like all Confederate pension records) remains problematic, for reasons I’ll get to shortly.

Before getting into Thomas Tobe’s case in more detail, it’s important to look at Civil War pensions generally and remember how they were handled. This will be familiar ground to some readers, but it bears repeating, because it underscores why Confederate pension applications are not especially reliable sources for determining a man’s status in 1861-65.

Pensions for Union soldiers was handled by a central office within the federal government, where each claimant’s service was checked against official records compiled by the War Department. It was a centralized operation, with objective standards of service verification, with relatively little opportunity for personal influence i determining whether a man’s application was approved.

The situation was very different in the South, where pensions were set up by the individual states. Some states allowed pensions for black servants and other non-combatants, while others did not. Pensions were set authorized at different times, and so on. Generally speaking, each county or district was set up with its own pension board to evaluate and decide local cases. Because Confederate service records were somewhat fragmentary, and were not readily available to the local boards in any case, pensions were generally awarded based on the affidavit of witnesses to the man’s claimed service. Ideally these witnesses were other soldiers who had served in the same unit as the applicant, but often they were not. It was a system inherently weak on verification, capable of being manipulated for both good and ill purposes, with local political appointees issuing state pensions based on the affidavits of men who may or may not have actual first-hand knowledge of the applicants’ claims. Confederate pension records, absent corroborating documentation, cannot by themselves be considered definitive proof of the enlistment status of any individual veteran, white or black.

I should add that the basic primer to understanding the process for awarding Confederate pensions — and their limitations — remains James G. Hollandsworth, Jr.’s manuscript, “Looking for Bob: Black Confederate Pensioners After the Civil War,” in the Journal of Mississippi History.


Thomas Tobe’s name has been cited before as a “black Confederate” in several places, including in the comments section over at Kevin’s place. In every case I can find, the claim directs back to these same pension documents without reference to any other evidence or, for that matter, providing any other information about Tobe at all. Tobe applied for a pension in 1919, under that year’s South Carolina Confederate Pension Act of 1919. Earlier South Carolina pensions had been issued primarily to men disabled by the war, or widows of men who died in Confederate service. The 1919 program included all veterans and widows over the age of sixty who had married veterans before 1890. But it did not include African Americans who had served as cooks, servants or in other non-combatant support roles; those men did not become eligible for pensions until 1923. Note that when one runs the search of South Carolina pensions as Ms. DeWitt suggests, the applications are listed in chronological order; Tobe’s name and 1919 application appear at the head of the list, with the next-earliest that of Wash Stenhouse, dated 1923.

I have been unable to find any contemporary (i.e., generated in 1861-65) military records for Thomas Tobe in the usual places, including the NPS Soldiers & Sailors Database or in the service record files via Footnote. Edit: However, as commenter BorderRuffian notes below, he does appear employed as a nurse on the roster of General Hospital No. 1 at Columbia, South Carolina for July and August 1864, having been attached to the hospital on June 30 of that year. Under “remarks,” the he entry carries the notation of “conscript Negro.” (There are also single-entry mentions of a black man named “Tobe” employed as a laborer in June 1863 at Meridian, Mississippi, and someone with the surname “Tobbe,” raced unknown, on the rolls of Co. C, 17th Regiment of South Carolina Volunteers. It’s not clear whether either of these refer to the Thomas Tobe discussed here; Tobe was a common 19th century nickname for Thomas.)

The term “nurse” here may encompass a wide range of duties. Bell Irvin Wiley, in Southern Negroes, 1861-1865, discusses the role of African Americans in Confederate hospitals during the war:

Slaves and free Negroes were employed as hospital attendants, ambulance drivers, and stretcher bearers. Their duties in the hospitals were the cleaning of wards, cooking, serving, washing, and, sometimes, attending the patients. In some hospitals all this work was done by convalescent soldiers. As the need f men became more acute in the later part of the war, Negroes were used more extensively, that the white men, convalescents included, might be available for fighting.

Wiley goes on to note that in 1864, the year Tobe is carried on the roster of the military hospital at Columbia, black hospital workers (or their masters, in the case of slaves) were authorized $400 annually in compensation.

The hospital roster also contradicts the assertion on Tobe’s pension claim that he served continuously with Holcombe’s Legion from 1861 through the end of the war.

The other factor that must be taken into account, of course, is that most all of the tens of thousands of African American men, slave and free, who were involved in one capacity or another with the Confederate Army served in non-combatant roles, as personal servants, cooks, teamsters, laborers, and so on. This is true for vast majority of men now publicly identified as “black Confederates,” as well, for whom detailed documentation exists. Based on the General Hospital No. 1 roster, I believe this is likely true for Thomas Tobe as well. Indeed, he may have also gone along with the 7th South Carolina as a civilian worker, in any number of roles. Although corroboration is lacking, I can easily see that happening. If this were the case — and it’s a speculative scenario — it would neatly explain both his absence from the regiment’s military roster and his claim, 55 years later, to have served with that regiment.

There are documented cases where African American men used different pension forms at different times to describe their wartime roles. The famous Holt Collier, for example, applied for a servant’s pension in Mississippi in 1906, and again in 1916, before applying as a soldier in 1924 and 1928. That, combined with the wide discretion given to local political appointees in determining who would qualify for a pension, it should be considered at least a possibility that the board in his case did not exercise particular rigor in his case to verify the claim made in the old man’s application. So it’s possible that Tobe, perhaps with the encouragement of someone with influence on the local pension board, encouraged him to apply for a pension. Having served as a nurse, and perhaps with other units as a civilian laborer or conscript, it’s easy to see how he and the pension board might both view him as being entitled to the meagre support it provided, whether he was technically eligible or not.

So was Thomas Tobe an honest-to-goodness Confederate soldier? The vocabulary here is important. I believe very much in keeping definitions as narrow as possible; otherwise terms get tossed around loosely to the point at which they have no real meaning. There’s a real tendency to conflate terms in this area of research so that historically-important distinctions between military and civilian personnel are blurred and confused. To me, the  definition of “soldier” that matters in this discussion is that used at the time: carried on the muster rolls, with military rank and recognized as such by his peers. And while in-the-ranks Confederate solders were sometimes detailed off from their units to work in hospitals, there’s no indication that that’s the case here. By those lights, then, and based on this evidence, I’d argue that the evidence does not fully confirm Thomas Tobe’s claim as a Confederate soldier, but clearly did serve as a nurse in a military hospital, most likely as a civilian but under military orders. Confederate service? Yes. As a soldier? I’m dubious, but open to further research findings.

As Kevin often points out, the lives of alleged “black Confederates” rarely get any attention at all apart from their supposed status as Confederate soldiers; those who cite them typically don’t dig much further beyond the one document that, to them, makes their chosen point. So while I retain some skepticism about whether Thomas Tobe was recognized as a soldier in the 7th South Carolina Cavalry during the war, I would like to share what else I have found out about him.

I was able to trace Thomas Tobe through most of the U.S. Censuses from 1850 to 1920. I could not find him in the 1860 Census, and the 1890 Census was destroyed in a fire, but he shows up in the others. The pension record gives his birth date as 1835, but various censuses indicate a birth date as late as 1839. His gravesite gives a birthdate of February 6, 1833, but I’m more inclined to trust the the early censuses, including the 1850 census, that reflect a birthdate of around 1839. It appears that, apart from the war years, he spent his entire life in central South Carolina, in Newberry and Lexington Counties, just west of Columbia.

In 1850 Tobe is lasted as being age 11, the son of William and Mary Tobe of Hellers (now Hellers Creek?), Newberry County, ages 50 and 35 respectively. William Tobe is listed as a farmer. Thomas has three siblings — Mary (15), Young W. (5) and Lucy (3). Thomas Tobe is described here as “Mulatto,” while in all following censuses he’s described as “Black.”

In 1870 Thomas Tobe is listed as a farm laborer in Newberry County, his age given as 31 He is married to Elizabeth, age 25, and they have four children residing with them — Delia (12), Thomas Jr. (9), William (7), John ( 4), and Samuel (1). Also living with them is a black farm laborer, George Wadsworth, age 23. Other records indicate Elizabeth’s maiden name was Wadsworth.

In 1880, Thomas is still in Hellers, now giving his age as 44. Elizabeth — giving her name as Betty — gave her age again as 25. Living with them are their children Thomas (17), William(15), John(14), Samuel (13), Garibaldi (12), Julius (10), Ebenezer (9), Hayes (8), and Florence (6). In that year’s agricultural census, Tobe is a renter on a 64-acre farm.

In 1900, Tobe is still in Hellers, giving his age as 60. He provides his birth date as July 1839. Elizabeth, given as Bettie, gives her age as 55, with a birth date of January 1845. They indicate they’ve been married 35 years. Living with them are two grandsons, their names listed as Lon (12) and Kite (10). He is still renting a farmstead.

In 1910, Thomas and Elizabeth Tobe are still in Hellers, giving their ages as 75 and 68, respectively. Living with them is a grandson, Thomas, age 21. The elder Tobe now owns his farmstead, with a mortgage. Elizabeth reports that she is the mother of 17 children, 10 of whom are still living. (It’s not clear how many of their children died young, and were not noted by the census, but at least one died as an adult during Thomas and Elizabeth’s lifetimes — Delia in 1915, of unknown causes — and their sons Julius (1898) and Hayes (1904) were critically injured in violent encounters; it’s not clear if either son survived.

In 1920, Thomas and Elizabeth Tobe are living in Broad River, Lexington County, with their ages given as 84 and 73 respectively. Although the two of them comprise a single household, the next household in the census is their son John, age 52, and his family, so it appears the elder Tobes either lived next door, or perhaps in an apartment adjacent to John.

Thomas Tobe died on August 1, 1922, and Elizabeth followed on March 29, 1923. Both are reportedly buried in the cemetery at Fairview Baptist Church, near Newberry.

Taken together, these decennial snapshots suggest a man whose life was stable but very linear. He and Elizabeth never learned to read or write, but were married for at least 55 years and raised a large family. He was, in his last years, able to purchase his own farm. It’s possible that, apart from his travels during the war, Thomas Tobe did not travel much beyond the region of central South Carolina where he grew up.

Thomas Tobe’s case is a fascinating one. It warrants further research, both to further illuminate Tobe’s specific circumstances and, more broadly, to illustrate the complexities of the role the African Americans played in the Confederate military effort. While there’s still no separate documentation to confirm Tobe’s service in the 7th South Carolina Cavalry, a little digging (in this case by commenter BorderRuffian) does reveal Tobe’s service as a nurse at a military hospital, and perhaps may even hint that he went with them into the field as a civilian laborer with the Seventh. It’s a complex story, one that doesn’t fit easily into simple interpretations of the conflict.

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Missing the Forest for the Trees

Posted in African Americans, Memory by Andy Hall on December 12, 2010

While going through microfilm looking for something else, I came across this editorial in the Galveston Weekly News, published on September 3, 1862 — several months after the Confederacy’s first Conscription Act, and shortly before passage of the second.

Conscripting Slaves. — The Telegraph of this city [Houston] is advocating the policy of conscripting slaves, to be employed in throwing up entrenchments and performing the other duties of soldiers. We think there are some very serious objections to such a policy. We do not propose to enter upon the discussion of the subject, but would here simply remark that by adopting such a policy we would seem to be following the example of the enemy, and they would not fail to justify the course they are now pursuing in filling up their armies with negro [sic.] recruits, by referring to the fact that we make conscripts of our slaves in order to strengthen our armies against them. The fact of our not putting arms in the hands of slaves, would not deprive their argument of its force, so long as the slaves are employed to the usual duties of soldiers, so that the 100,000 of them the Telegraph proposes to raise, will have the same effect as increasing our military force by just that number of white conscripts. We fear the argument would, at least, be sufficient with foreign nations, to justify the Federals in employing negroes in their armies, in the way they are now doing.

We also think the policy proposed would be seriously objectionable on the ground of its taking the slave out of his proper position, and the only position he can safely occupy in a slave country. We are moreover of the opinion that we have white men enough to achieve our independence without conscripting slaves to help us. And we further believe that our slaves can be much more profitably employed in agricultural, mechanical and manufacturing pursuits, under the supervision f white men. In these pursuits, their labor, if properly directed, will add more military strength to the country, by keeping our armies properly supplied, than by conscripting them.

My emphasis. Note that the editorial here objects to the formal enlistment of slaves even in non-combatant roles — “the fact of our not putting arms in the hands of slaves, would not deprive [the Federals’] argument of its force.” In the back-and-forth about this or that bit of “evidence” for the widespread enlistment of large numbers of African Americans as soldiers in the Confederate Army — much of which is either fundamentally misunderstood, self-contradictory, willfully misrepresented or flat-out fabricated — it’s easy to miss the forest for the trees. The very idea of organizing slaves into military formations, under arms, was antithetical to the legal, social and racial fabric that defined the Confederacy and that put the Southern states on the path to secession. There were dissenting voices, to be sure, particularly as the war dragged on and the Confederacy’s military position became increasing perilous. But even in the closing weeks of the war, the very notion of enlisting slaves into combat service remained deeply, fundamentally offensive to many whose devotion to the Confederacy was without question. “Use all the negroes you can get,” Howell Cobb advised the Confederate Secretary of War in January 1865, “for all the purposes for which you need them, but don’t arm them. The day you make soldiers of them is the beginning of the end of the revolution.”

One sometimes hears, when skeptics point out the dearth of contemporary primary sources from the Confederate side that describe African Americans serving in the ranks, under arms, recognized as soldiers by their officers and their peers, that the practice was so commonplace, so unremarkable, that it simply wasn’t commented upon. It’s suggested that the Confederate Army was racially integrated to such a degree no one thought to mention it. Such a claim reflects a deep ignorance — or deep dishonesty — about the most basic reality the Confederate States: it was a nation succinctly, accurately and unabashedly described in the Weekly News‘ editorial as “a slave country.”