Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Research a Mile Wide, and an Inch Deep

Posted in African Americans, Memory by Andy Hall on December 28, 2011

The deeply shallow “research” to prove the existence of black Confederates continues apace. This image, from the Alabama Department of Archives and History, is of men from the 15th Alabama Infantry attending a statewide Confederate veterans reunion in Montgomery, in November 1902. The 15th Alabama, many will recall, is the regiment that made repeated attempts to dislodge the Union flank on Little Round Top on the second day at Gettysburg, facing the famous 20th Maine Infantry. I believe the former commander of the 15th Alabama, William C. Oates, is the first man at left in the front row in the image, directly above the C in “C.S.A.”

The image has become a point of discussion online recently, particularly in reference to the dark-skinned man in the second-to-last row, third from the end on the right. The discussion seems to center around whether the man is African American, of mixed race, or perhaps is a white man with very dark, tanned skin. Whether he’s actually African American or not is critical, because the beginning and end of the question is whether or not a black man attended a Confederate reunion. That fact, in and of itself, is apparently supposed to tell us all we need to know about African Americans and the Confederacy.

Of course, it doesn’t.

Warning: The following includes historical quotes that use offensive language and themes.

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