Sunday, October 07, 2007

A Rather Unique SCV Member

Here's a rather fascinating article about a black man who is a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Apparently his grandfather - whom he knew - was a slave who went to war with the sons of his owner. Eventually the grandfather became a soldier himself, fighting under (of all people) General Nathan Bedford Forrest. He would serve out the war as a chaplain, conducting services for soldiers on both sides of the war. When he died in 1934, a Confederate flag draped his coffin.

It's a fascinating story that leaves me with a ton of questions I'd like to ask this guy. Starting with this: wasn't it illegal for black men to fight in the Confederate army? How did he get away with fighting for the South? Especially under the notoriously racist Forrest?

Anyway, black Confederate soldiers deserve more study. What were their motivations? How did they get around the rules? Did they confuse the crap out of Union soldiers? And what effect did they have overall?


Matthew B. Novak said...

Perhaps it was just a lot of friendly fire?

Michael said...

Interesting article.

I remember reading that, in 1861 when the Union and Confederate gov'ts called for militia volunteers, Louisiana's oldest militia organization, the Battalion of Free Men of Color, volunteered for the Confederacy.

They were turned down.

Barzelay said...

Some of your questions highlight the current view of the Civil War as being about a lot more than slavery. Support for slavery may have been as much about money as about race. And an average Southern soldier might have been persuaded to join the cause for "freedom," "independence," and "protecting our way of life," however little those vague ideas had to do with the leaders' reasons for conducting the war. Just look at the war we're currently in.

For the black Confederate soldiers, I'm sure it was the same. They weren't rallying around slavery. They were rallying around "protecting our families," "serving our masters well," fighting against
"those damn Yanks," etc.