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Blacks Who Fought For The Confederacy

Updated on August 11, 2015

My conversation with a white guy named Scott about Blacks who fought for the Confederacy

Me: Hello Scott

I read your excellent article “Black Confederates in the Civil War” and found it rather enlightening and enjoyable…but I couldn’t decide if you were implying that because some Blacks fought for the “Confederate States Of America” that their plight as slaves wasn’t so bad or they wouldn’t have fought for them in the war or that somehow that made the CSA’s fight against the United States more just.

You quote a couple of historians on why some Blacks fought for CSA, but this one caught my eye: “Another black historian, Roland Young, says he is not surprised that blacks fought. He explains that “…some, if not most, Black southerners would support their country” and that by doing so they were “demonstrating it’s possible to hate the system of slavery and love one’s country.”

If this explanation is true…I don’t know if they should be praised or pitied. Some of them had probably been so conditioned to being subservient, in addition to the South being their home, that I can see how some of them may have felt some sense of misguided loyalty to a country that treated them as menial, childlike, less than human and deprived them of their rights as human beings and citizens.

General Lee

The fact that General Lee wanted to enlist Blacks as soldiers in the CSA’s armies seems to be used as a positive event to soften the picture of what life was like for Blacks in the South and to soften the picture of those who deprived Blacks of their rights and fought a war to maintain them in that unjust social system.

True, when Lee and others got desperate they tried to enlist Blacks because they needed more men…but if they had enough white recruits…I doubt if they would have enlisted Blacks as other than cooks, servants or manual labors.

Ditto for the litany of bad experiences you say that Blacks suffered at the hand of Northern troops and others after the war. There were racists in the North and the South…so the way they acted doesn’t surprise me and it doesn’t relive the racists in the South of responsibility for the chronic mistreatment they daily inflicted on Blacks.

White Supremacists With The Confederate Flag

White Supremacy

You see the real psychological and moral issue was White Supremacy, which was afflicting large numbers of Whites in the US and in most European countries. White Supremacy and Blacks’ innate inferiority were the twin doctrines used by racist scientists and intellectuals, as justification for enslaving Blacks for economic gain and to feed their inflated ideas of themselves as superior beings.

Good People Fighting For The Confederacy

Of course there were good people, Black and White, fighting for the Confederate States of America, just as there were fighting for the Hitler and the Nazis…but that doesn’t mean they weren’t misguided or that their cause was just.

My Response To Scott's Response To My Response

Me: Hello again Scott

That was quite a response!

You made so many good points!

But I do want comment on a couple of points you made

Scott: “but I also praise the southern slaveholders that voluntarily liberated their slaves or did so on condition of their loyal service.”

Me: They should be criticized for enslaving them in the first place as well.

Scott “So while the big controversy centered on slavery, the local incidents affected people in other ways.”

Me: Slavery went hand in hand with White supremacy and economic gain for those business and individuals engaged in trading slaves. Even whites who couldn’t afford to have slaves or didn’t believe in enslaving Blacks were affected by the psychology of White supremacy and saw Blacks as subhuman.

Frank Blair

Missouri for the White man

Scott “Missouri for the White man". Frank Blair, one of the men crediting saving Missouri for the union was the main promoter of this. He campaigned for Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln played along with this while he was in the midwest, at the same time speaking higher ideals against slavery to the residents of New England.”

Me: Lincoln was one of those who didn’t believe in slavery but was a White supremacist. In one of his speeches he said although he was against slavery he didn’t want people to misconstrue that to mean he thought “a Black man was equal to a White man”. So yes I’m aware complex issues are involved here

Slaveholders Voluntarily Liberated Slaves

Scott: “It must be remembered that collectively, slaveholders voluntarily liberated more slaves than any pre-Civil War abolitionists ever did. This is another point ignored by the history books.”

Me:They should have liberated more because they probably enslaved more

White Supremacist With The Confederate And Nazi Flags

The Confederacy And Nazi Germany

Scott: “So I reject comparison of the Confederacy with Nazi Germany. The Confederates did not want to purge blacks from their society or exterminate them.”

Me: They were alike because they both were White Supremacists. The reason the Confederates stated didn’t want to exterminate Blacks, was because they were too economically valuable…the economy of the south ran on the backs of Black slave labor.

Actually slavery was for the benefit of the rich white plantation owners. If not for that fact, they would have tried to exterminate Blacks, just as they tried to do to the Indians, whom they had no use for and whose land they desired. And many Indians tribes were exterminated.

The rich plantation owners and their political allies, used "States Rights" as a rallying cry, to get poor whites to fight, to protect their property and wealth. The Civil war was fought to protect the right of the rich plantation owners to continue their participation in the lucrative slave trading business.

Colored Troops Fighting For Their Native State

Scott “Even some of the U.S. Colored Troops expressed they would have rather have fought for their native state than for the north, but because of no guarantees of freedom they could not.”

Me: And that’s the real issue here…freedom.

Of course they felt some loyalty toward their state of birth…but obviously not enough to make them risk being re-enslaved to fight for their home state.

White Supremacy, viewing Blacks as subhuman, slavery, “states rights” and the deprivation of Blacks rights and freedoms, are all part and parcel of the same problem. As you so astutely pointed out, this is a complex issue. So it’s not just about slavery…because African slavery was driven by the psychology of White Supremacy and economic gain.

Fading Into White

Scott: “By fading into white, thousands if not millions of whites are unknowingly descendents of slaves.”

Me:This is true! And thousands and probably millions of Blacks are unknowingly the descendants of White slave holders.

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Thanks vveasey

Black Confederates The Forgotten Men In Gray


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    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      All through history slaves have fought for their masters. It seems more amazing that so few fought for the South. I think of Roman, Greek and Egyptian slaves and I do not even know what color they were. Then again Spartacus was a shining reason not to use slaves.

      Clearly it took MLKjr to de-institutionalize Lincoln's skewed attitude and bigotry. (what a bizarro world)

    • Levertis Steele profile image

      Levertis Steele 3 years ago from Southern Clime

      Seriously, that common sense works on both sides. A country is a "house." A sensible person would do whatever he must to protect his dwelling regardless of race.

    • Levertis Steele profile image

      Levertis Steele 3 years ago from Southern Clime

      I am confused! Why would anyone give chattel guns! Imagine horses, hogs, and bulls stampeding a battlefield and shooting men. It is amazing how some will use common sense when desperation sets in.