Confederate Black Troops statue proposed


Responding to the charge that Confederate monuments, flag displays, public school names, streets names, and more are obviously racist because they only honor white Southern men, South Carolina legislators have proposed a monument to the (fictional) black Confederates. Of course, these legislators do not acknowledge that the people they propose to honor have no more reality than unicorns. The headline for another news account of this proposal says Newspaper review of records show no black armed Confederates.

Here are two more accounts, with details, from South Carolina news sources: This from Fox Carolina, Monument sought to recognize blacks who served Confederacy, from October, 2017. This from WIS, Channel 10, in Columbia, SC, 2 Upstate lawmakers call for monument honoring African-American Confederate soldiers at State House, also from October. This last one has illustrations:

African American soldiers in the Civil War (FOX Carolina/ October 11, 2017)

African American soldiers in the Civil War (FOX Carolina/ October 11, 2017)

WIS-TV cited the lawmakers’ press release:

“Explaining the War Between the States and the events leading up to it is much more complex than can be explained by a few paragraphs in a history book,” Burns said in a news release. “This monument can help educate current and future generations of a little-known — but important — part of South Carolina history. These African-Americans, like many of their Caucasian contemporaries, stepped up to defend their home state during a tumultuous time in our country’s history. Their service has largely been overlooked or forgotten. Rep. Chumley and I want to remedy this oversight.”
Chumley added that biblical commandments inspired the proposed legislation.
“The Bible says to honor our fathers and mothers,” Chumley stated. “In that same vein, we can honor South Carolinians who showed more than 150 years ago that they loved their state as much then as Sandlappers of all persuasions do today.”

The article continues citing a statement by the South Carolina Secessionist Party (?!?!?!?! Really, it does. I kid you not!)

The stories of the service of Black Confederates is largely untold throughout the nation, and their service is discredited by those with an agenda to remove any trace of the Confederacy. These types of people often say that many Black Confederates served because they were forced to. While that may be true in some cases, their service is no less honorable and commendable than those who have been drafted and forced to serve in other American conflicts, including the thousands of immigrants forced into service by Abraham Lincoln during the War Between the States.

Modern neo-Confederates and Lost Cause thinkers go to great lengths to (falsely) assert that their desire to honor their white Confederate ancestors has nothing to do with race or racism. “You can’t change history,” they say to those who wish to remove the South’s many monuments to slave holders and traitors. In fact, these Confederate monument advocates and their predecessors work hard to change history, in the sense of what we think, write, and say about the past. For more than 150 years, they have largely succeeded in their quest. “These monuments have nothing to do with racism or slavery. They only honor the bravery of our ancestors.”

in the heady days leading up to the Southern attacks on federal military posts throughout the South and to secession, when those ancestors believed that their cause was just and that their victory was certain, Southern whites were not embarrassed to say that slavery, white slave-owning society, security of property rights in black slaves, and white supremacy were the reasons they would secede from the United States. I’ve written about this elsewhere on our blog.

Lost Cause thinkers, Dunning school historians, and others in the decades after the Civil War and in the shock of their terrible defeat rewrote history. In their telling, the cause of the War was an abstract difference of opinion between honorable white men about the nature of freedom and of states’ rights. Black people had nothing to do with it. As northern whites grew tired of the struggle for black civil rights after the end of Reconstruction, these Southern whites turned to terrorism and murder to disenfranchise blacks, to impose a system of social and legal segregation, and to build monuments to the victory of white supremacy throughout the South (and in the North too).

In their desire to absolve themselves of the charge of racism, some of the defenders of displays of the Confederate battle flag, or the Confederate national flag, or the many Southern monuments (falsely) assert that black men served in the rebel armies. Many of the speakers who defended the Tampa Confederate monument before the Hillsborough County Commission stated that the rebel armies were manned by people of many national ancestries including blacks. Some of these speakers displayed photographs of black men in Confederate uniforms. I wrote about this here.

Modern professional historians strongly support the fact that the Southern armies had no enlisted black soldiers, slave or free. The thought of arming slaves horrified right-thinking white Southerners. I wrote about the Cleburne Memorial, a memorandum prepared in 1864 by Confederate General Cleburne in which Cleburne proposed recruiting slaves into Confederate Armies in return for the promise of freedom. Here, from Wikiquotes are two statements by Howell Cobb.

Howell Cobb

You cannot make soldiers of slaves, nor slaves of soldiers… The day you make soldiers of them is the beginning of the end.

Thomas Howell Cobb (7 September 1815 – 9 October 1868) was a Georgian politician during the 19th century. A southern Democrat who supported slavery and owned slaves himself, he was the Governor of Georgia in the early 1850s and later became a member of the Confederacy during the American Civil War.


  • The proposition to make soldiers of our slaves is the most pernicious idea that has been suggested since the war began. It is to me a source of deep mortification and regret to see the name of that good and great man and soldier, General R. E. Lee, given as authority for such a policy. My first hour of despondency will be the one in which that policy shall be adopted. You cannot make soldiers of slaves, nor slaves of soldiers. The moment you resort to negro soldiers your white soldiers will be lost to you; and one secret of the favor with which the proposition is received in portions of the army is the hope that when negroes go into the Army they will be permitted to retire. It is simply a proposition to fight the balance of the war with negro troops. You can’t keep white and black troops together, and you can’t trust negroes by themselves. It is difficult to get negroes enough for the purpose indicated in the President’s message, much less enough for an Army. Use all the negroes you can get, 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.
    • Howell Cobb. “Letter to James A. Seddon”, in: Encyclopædia Britannica] (1911), Hugh Chisholm, editor, 11th ed., Cambridge University Press.
  • If slaves make good soldiers our whole theory of slavery is wrong. But they won’t make soldiers. As a class they are wanting in every qualification of a soldier. Better by far to yield to the demands of England and France and abolish slavery and thereby purchase their aid, than resort to this policy, which leads as certainly to ruin and subjugation as it is adopted; you want more soldiers, and hence the proposition to take negroes into the Army. Before resorting to it, at least try every reasonable mode of getting white soldiers. I do not entertain a doubt that you can, by the volunteering policy, get more men into the service than you can arm. I have more fears about arms than about men, For Heaven’s sake, try it before you fill with gloom and despondency the hearts of many of our truest and most devoted men, by resort to the suicidal policy of arming our slaves.
    • Howell Cobb. “Letter to James A. Seddon”, in: Encyclopædia Britannica] (1911), Hugh Chisholm, editor, 11th ed., Cambridge University Press.
    • Quote regarding suggestions that the Confederates turn their slaves into soldiers. Also quoted as ‘You cannot make soldiers of slaves, or slaves of soldiers. The day you make a soldier of them is the beginning of the end of the Revolution. And if slaves seem good soldiers, then our whole theory of slavery is wrong’.

The first citation, from a January 1865 letter to the Confederate Secretary of War, dates from the last months of the war. Cobb wrote it to oppose desperate proposals before the Confederate Congress to form black military units. The Confederates enlisted a few companies of black men, but the war ended before any of them saw service. Here’s a good essay about Cobb’s ideas: ‘IF SLAVES WILL MAKE GOOD SOLDIERS OUR WHOLE THEORY OF SLAVERY IS WRONG’.

There are some ironies that this proposal is before the legislature in South Carolina. From this summary table of the U. S. Census of 1860, South Carolina’s 700,000 residents included 300,000 whites and 400,000 blacks. The population was about 57% black. Yet monuments to the 43% minority who fought the United States government to keep the right to own black human beings speak of their South Carolina heritage, as if they represented the South Carolina of 1860.

Modern historians, while insisting that there were no black Confederate soldiers, acknowledge that there were black slaves who accompanied Confederate armies. Some, such as the black man in the second photograph above were body servants to the Confederate officer masters. Thousands of others served as laborers, drovers, cooks, and other support personnel. Yet the South Carolina legislators assert that these slaves were serving the cause of South Carolina’s rebellion in favor of slavery. Well, I suppose that they were “serving.” But that’s a peculiar use of that word.


Plan for Confederate ‘black troops’ statue baffles historian

Fox News Reported on Proposed Monument to Black South Carolina Confederates

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