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Black Soldiers
in the Confederate Army

by Murray Montgomery
Murray Montgomery
It seems that throughout the years, any mention of black soldiers in the American Civil War has nearly always placed those men in the blue uniform of the United States Army.

There is, however, information available in books and on the Internet today that questions those old theories. Fact is, there is a lot of new material being written about black men who fought for the South.

Not only did they fight, these soldiers distinguished themselves on the battlefield. I think itís safe to say that this information is not common knowledge. I doubt that any of this is recorded in high school or college level history books.

Iíll have to admit that I was of the opinion that all black soldiers served in the Union army and indeed most did. But after becoming aware of this information about his role in the Confederate army, I have had to sort of rethink my position on this matter.

The black man served his country, with honor, against hostile Indians on the frontier after the Civil War. We have all heard of the famous Buffalo Soldiers and the job they did fighting Indians and protecting settlers. But what about those black Confederate soldiers?

It was my assumption that if a black man fought for the South, he must have been forced to perform that role and most likely at gunpoint. While this may have happened, existing information explains that some of these soldiers were free men and chose to fight for what they considered to be their country.

Whereas the South was where he was born and raised itís not surprising that the black man would fight to defend his home and family. Some data indicates that he even considered the Union army to be his enemy.

A group of people currently maintain a site on the Internet known as Terrell's Texas Cavalry (34th Regiment, CSA). This unit fought in the Civil War and consisted of both white and black soldiers. An excerpt from their unit history gives this information: "Unit rosters showed the 34th to be of multiracial makeup including White, Black, Brown and Red Confederates. Company A had 25 Hispanic troopers and two Blacks; Company C had 28 Hispanics and five Blacks; Company D was commanded by Capt. Jose Rodriguez and had a Black 3rd Sergeant, James Washington."

The 34th Texas fought in many engagements during the war and like many other confederate units Terrell's Texas Cavalry never surrendered.

Additional material from this web site quotes author Ervin L. Jordan, Jr. as saying: "Tennessee in June 1861 became the first in the South to legislate the use of free black soldiers. The governor was authorized to enroll those between the ages of fifteen and fifty, to be paid $18 a month and the same rations and clothing as white soldiers; the black men appeared in two black regiments in Memphis by September....Ē

The documentation and many historical references that are available on the Terrell's Texas Cavalry web site is very impressive and shows that extensive research has been done on the subject of black participation in the Confederate army.

I think the most interesting information is from a fact sheet provided by Mr. Scott Williams. He quotes Terri Williams, a black journalist for the Suffolk Virginia Pilot newspaper.

In the article Williams writes: "I've had to re-examine my feelings toward the Confederate flag. It started when I read a newspaper article about an elderly black man whose ancestor worked with the Confederate forces. The man spoke with pride about his family member's contribution to the cause, was photographed with the Confederate flag draped over his lap, that's why I now have no definite stand on just what the flag symbolizes, because it no longer is their history, or my history, but our history."

From 1861 to 1865 our ancestors were involved in a great conflict. More people died in the Civil War than any other war in our history. Many men, black and white ó fought, were wounded, and died for a cause they believed in.

I feel that we have an obligation to those people ó black, white, and all the others ó to record their history as accurately as possible, regardless of which flag they chose to serve.

Although mankind should never tolerate the enslavement of any human being, we do need to make sure the truth about our history is told, even if it isnít politically correct by todayís standards.
© Murray Montgomery
Lone Star Diary October 18, 2005 Column

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