According to that getting increasingly debunked myth, anywhere from 10,000 to 100,000 free and enslaved Southern blacks served voluntarily, loyally, consistently and as fully fledged combatants in the South. The lie is so pervasive that it found its way into Virginia elementary school textbooks.
The lie is also used by Southern ‘Lost Cause’ history revisionists to promote the even bigger lie that Southern Blacks supported the Confederacy. Yeah, right. If thousands of Blacks served in the Confederate armies, wouldn’t the CSA not only have used that for propaganda purposes to counter what the North was telling the world, but photographic evidence of these Black Confederate units in combat or dead on various battlefields during the war prove it?
Umm hmm. And don’t even try Confederate apologists to use the Louisiana Native Guards as an ‘example’ of Black Confederate troops. The only fighting they did was on the side of the Union.
But we have plenty of examples and documentation of the 175 African American units and 200,000 men that fought for the Union in the United States Colored Troops such as the 54th Massachusetts Regiment depicted in the movie Glory.
There isn’t any on the Confederate side because CSA President Jefferson Davis repeatedly rejected the idea when one of his generals suggested they emancipate and arm slaves at the start of the war. They even made it national policy that only white men could become Confederate soldiers.
And Confederate defenders, the CSA leaders blow up your myth for me. According to historians, John Beauchamp Jones, a high-level assistant to the CSA secretary of war confirmed as much in his diary. “This is utterly untrue,” he wrote. “We have no armed slaves to fight for us.”
When Confederate Secretary of War James Seddon was asked to double check that assertion, he confirmed that “No slaves have been employed by the Government except as cooks or nurses in hospitals and for labor.”
In the wake of mass numbers of Black men from the North and South enlisting in the USCT after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued by Lincoln, the Black troops idea was proposed by CSA Major General Patrick Cleburne in 1863 and shot down by Davis once again.
Only when the handwriting was on the wall in 1865 and the CSA was weeks from being defeated did they relent, but it was too late.
It’s ludicrous to believe that a government founded on the proposition that Black people were inferior to whites and was fighting an armed rebellion against the federal government to continue enslaving them would employ them in combat roles that they claimed in their ideology we were not capable of assuming. It’s also the height of idiocy to believe that the Confederate traitors would give Blacks the tools to throw off the yoke of slavery by arming them.
So no, the myth of the Black Confederate soldier is about as accurate as the BS the revisionists peddled that the South seceded over tariffs.