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Old March 19th, 2012, 06:08 PM   #1

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Slaves and Black Southerners 1861-1865

The plight of African-American slaves, particularly those languishing on Southern plantations, in the years leading up to the Civil War is fairly well known. However, once the War begins they seem to lose the spotlight of the War their plight (indirectly or otherwise) caused.

Most books make mention of United States Colored Troops, such as the famous 54th Massachusetts Colored Infantry, and some also speak of the smaller number of blacks who fought for the South. But what was the experience of the Civil War like for those who remained in servitude? Many thousands ran away - the 'contrabands' who did the Union Army's dirty work. Were there any slave revolts, or acts of vengeful brutality targeting slave-owners or their families?

Were slaves ever utilized by the Confederate Army for non-combatant purposes? How common was it for slave-owners to bring sevants with them on campaign?

Please note that I am specifically asking about slaves in the Confederate states.
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Old March 19th, 2012, 06:19 PM   #2
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As union troops move deeper into the South Slaves like you said migrated toward them. With so many southern men fighting for the south there was little to keep them in place.
The overseers, militia, posses etc were now largely fighting for the South.

Slaves were used for non combat rolls the Southern Army hospital outside of Richmond which was considered the best for either side was largely staffed by blacks . One things people forget is that slave owners pre-war would frequently hire out their slaves to do work for the local governments so it was not a new experience.

I don't recall hearing or reading of to many slave revolts like Nat Turner since now slaves had an option and a chance at freedom there where probably more inclined to think about the future.

While the 54th is justly remembered it was not composed of ex-slaves as the otherwise excellent movie Glory implies . Most were free blacks living in Massachusetts at the time. Runaway slaves of course did serve in the Union Army I believe Black troops made up twenty percent of union troops at the height of the war.
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Old March 19th, 2012, 06:31 PM   #3

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Originally Posted by cincinnatus View Post
... I believe Black troops made up twenty percent of union troops at the height of the war.
Seems the number is much lower...

For the Union side at least, the historical record is fairly definitive and clear: we know that about 9-12% of the Union Army was filled by black troops, depending on if one goes with the figure of 180,000 or 200,000 black Union troops serving. Black Union soldiers participated in at least 41 major battles and roughly 450 smaller actions. 37,000 black Union soldiers died in the Civil War. Though early black troops were not aggressively deployed as bearers of arms, it is the case that by the middle of the war, at least, more and more black Union troops were entrusted to carry arms and to perform in combat action.
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Old March 19th, 2012, 06:58 PM   #4

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An excerpt from: "Personal Record of the 13th Tennessee Regiment, Infantry, by it's Old Commander"
Brigadier General Alfred J. Vaughan

Faithful Colored Servants.

The survivors of the Thirteenth Regiment, like the writer,
remember most gratefully the faithful body servants who
followed us during the dark and bloody period. I have
endeavored to collect the names of these colored men-
slaves then, but freemen at the end -and add them here to
this roster, believing as I do that their personal loyalty and
faithful service entitle them to " honorable mention."

Roach Howard, Company E. Jack Mathes, Company B.

Berry Moore, Company E. Orange Donelson, Company II.

Joe Farrow, Company C. Jack Farabee, Company H.

Baltimore Tuggle, Company C. Arthur Ecklin, Company H.

Ike Mullins, Company H. Young Thurman, Fourth Term. Kegt.

Dick Tuggle, Company C. Henry Morgan, Company C.

Dave Thompson, Company H. Jack Dyer, Company E.

Booker Hart, Company I. Daniel Harwell, Company E.

Durell Bailey, Company B. Josh Burnett, Company B.

Granville Cash, Company B. Miles Mewborn, Company B.

Ike Jamison, Company C. Rufus Purdy, Company I.

Alf Ellis, Company C. Daniel Jones, Company L.

Kelsey Mebane, Company B. Ben Parham, Company L.

Romeo Parham, Company G. Royal Winston, Company G.

Sam Falls, Company G. Frank Chrisman, Company G.

Mull Harrison, Company C. Mat Elam, Company C.

Ike Payne, Company C.

In at least two instances proof was given by the slave of
heroic devotion to his master. Lieutenant Thurman was
shot at Atlanta, and his body servant, Young, taking charge
of him, through all sorts of hardships and deprivations,
faithfully nursed him until he died. Young then dug a
grave with his own hands, buried his young master, and,
making his way across two States, came back to Shelby
county, where the stricken father and mother heard the
pitiful story from his lips of how their boy had passed
away. They told Young that they wanted their boy buried
at their old home; so the negro, with a wagon and team,
made his way back to the unmarked grave he had dug and
brought the body all the way through a thousand difficul
ties and dangers to the old master and mistress. I do not
know that this negro is now living, but I mention his deed
that those of this generation may know something of a
faithfulness strong enough and great enough to command
the admiration of all the world.

Another : At Belmont one of the negroes, whose name
I deeply regret having lost, while the battle was yet rag
ing, seeing his young master fall, went into the storm of
shot and shell and brought the body safely back into our
lines. In Edwards beautiful story of "The Valley of the
Shadder" a similar episode is told so eloquently, so ten
derly told that it is difficult to read it without tears. The
Thirteenth Regiment saw the actual occurrence at Bel
mont, so can bear witness for the negro to those who
might think Mr. Edwards was speaking from his fancy
rather than from actual facts.
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Old March 19th, 2012, 07:45 PM   #5

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I'll have to dig around and find it, but Mary Chestnut, remarking in her journal about the pitiful state of affairs in the defense of Atlanta, tells of Confederate officials commandeering the male slaves of the household and herding them off to build defensive works.
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