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We're there any negro troops fighting on the side of the CSA?

Did blacks fight for the Confederacy?  If either one of us knew that we would be millionaires.  

In recent years we know there were official companies of blacks at the beginning of the war who quickly changed sides and at the end of the war who fought at Appomattox.

I have been unable to find the post of the blacks surprising Confederate troops in the way they handled themselves.

John Beauchamp Jones, a high-level assistant to the secretary of war, scoffed at rumors that the Confederacy had units made up of slaves.  "This is utterly untrue," he wrote in his diary.  "We have no armed slaves to fight for us.”  Asked to double-check, Confederate Secretary of War James Seddon confirmed, "No slaves have been employed by the Government except as cooks or nurses in hospitals and for labor."  

Then you have.

Black Confederates paroled at Appomattox

Quartermaster Department of 3rd Corps (Ordinance Train.)

16 slaves (names unknown)
18th Georgia Battalion
Joe Parkman Company A
George Waddell Company A
Henry Williams Company B
Louis Gardeen Company A
James Polk Company B
Scipio Africanus Company B
William Read Company C
John Lery Company A   Quartermaster Department Gary’s Cavalry Brigade
James Barabsha Guard
Thomas Bowen Teamster
Burress Bowen Teamster
John Bowen Teamster
Jack Caldwell Teamster
Donaldsonville Artillery, Company B
H. Blum Cook
L. Leport Servant
Jno. Mamply Servant
Jno. Semple Servant
Bob ( Slave of Davod Bridges)
Jim (Slave of T. M. Dittrick)
Solomon Wright Blacksmith

This is the description found in Virginia textbooks I will point out the teacher who brought it to light has now changed her mind and feels blacks fought for the Confederacy.  

“Dr. Lewis Steiner  in his role as chief inspector of the U.S. Sanitary Commission, where he states in part "Wednesday, September 10--At four o'clock this morning the rebel army began to move from our town, Jackson's force taking the advance.  The movement continued until eight o'clock P.M., occupying sixteen hours.  The most liberal calculations could not give them more than 64,000 men. Over 3,000 negroes must be included in this number.  These were clad in all kinds of uniforms, not only in cast-off or captured United States uniforms, but in coats with Southern buttons, State buttons, etc.  These were shabby, but not shabbier or seedier than those worn by white men in rebel ranks.  Most of the negroes had arms, rifles, muskets, sabers, bowie-knives, dirks, etc.  They were supplied, in many instances, with knapsacks, haversacks, canteens, etc., and were manifestly an integral portion of the Southern Confederacy Army.  They were seen riding on horses and mules, driving wagons, riding on caissons, in ambulances, with the staff of Generals, and promiscuously mixed up with all the rebel horde.  (Report of Lewis H. Steiner, New York: Anson D. F. Randolph, 1862, pp. 10-11).  It was not and never has been considered an official report.

Steiner's credibility is questionable at the very least based on a number of glaring inconsistencies in his report, in addition to those persons who were behind the formation and funding of the Sanitary Commission.  The organizers of the Commission such as Frederick Law Olmstead, Mary Livermore, et al, were abolitionists and a portion of their funding were abolitionist donations from persons such as Rev. Henry Ward Beecher and William Lloyd Garrison.  It would not be an untruth to claim that abolitionists or those persons with like sympathies were prevalent in the Sanitary Commission.  These same abolitionists were bringing increasing pressure on the Lincoln Administration to enlist free blacks in the Union army.  If one reads Steiner's report, you can't help to see it as nothing more than a piece of propaganda, written to possibly prod the North into enlisting black soldiers and to portray the South as a bunch of imbeciles.  In Steiner's Report of Lewis H. Steiner, M.D., Maryland, Sept 1862, on pg. 10, he wrote the following:

"At four o'clock this morning the rebel army began to move from our town, Jackson's force taking the advance.  The movement continued until eight o'clock P.M., occupying sixteen hours.  The most liberal calculations could not give them more than 64,000 men. Over 3,000 negroes must be included in this number. These were clad in all kinds of uniforms, not only in cast-off or captured United States uniforms, but in coats with Southern buttons, State buttons, etc.  These were shabby, but not shabbier or seedier than those worn by white men in the rebel ranks.  Most of the negroes had arms, rifles, muskets, sabers, bowie-knives, dirks, etc.  They were supplied, in many instances, with knapsacks, haversacks, canteens, etc., and were manifestly an integral portion of the Southern Confederacy Army."

So we have "over 3,000 negroes" that are in Confederate uniforms and armed and "supplied, in many instances, with knapsacks, haversacks, canteens" yet later on in his report, Steiner describes the regiments of white Confederates marching thru Frederick as men "mostly without knapsacks; some few carried blankets, and a tooth-brush was occasionally seen pendant from the button-hole of a private soldier.”  Now what is wrong with this picture? Negro Confederate soldiers with better equipment than their white counterparts? Steiner, by writing of the armed black Confederates in his report, IMHO, is attempting to shame the Union for not arming the blacks in the North because the rest of his report portrays the Confederate troops as stupid, filthy and braggarts.  Whether one agrees that an agenda on Steiner's part is present, the fact is that there is no other corroborating evidence from any source showing that there were armed black Confederate soldiers at Antietam; not one letter from a Southern soldier or a resident of Frederick mentions anything about them.  No mention is made of dead or wounded black soldiers following the battle, no black POW's.  A reasonable person would expect that if over 3,000 armed black Confederates went into battle, at least there would be more than 1 eyewitness to it.  Not only is there no corroborating letters or documentation from the one hundred thousand plus Southern and Union soldiers, in addition to the many hundreds of civilians who witnessed the Confederates march thru their towns and villages reroute to Antietam, why is there not one mention of armed black Confederate soldiers in the SHSP volume about Sharpsburg?

National Archives, Record Group 109, M-251, file of A. I. Peeler, Company I, 5th Florida Infantry; M-275, Records of General and Staff Officers and Nonregimental Enlisted Men, file of Capt. C. L. Moore. Charles Kelley Barrow, J. H. Segars, and R. B. Rosenberg, 'Forgotten Confederates: An Anthology about Black Southerners' Journal of Confederate History Series, vol. 14 (Atlanta: Southern Heritage Press, 1996), in the 'Hawkinsville Georgia Dispatch,' Feb. 5, 1885.
In September 1863, during the battle of Chickamauga, the 4th Tennessee Cavalry had a black servant named Daniel McLemore, servant to the Colonel of the regiment; organize a group of servants into a company of between 40-50 men.  They were at first ordered to guard the horses of the soldiers, but sitting out of the fighting long enough; they asked a Captain Briggs if they could participate in the fighting.  

Cpt Briggs recalled that "After trying to dissuade them from this, I gave in and led them up to the line of battle in which was just preparing to assault Gen. Thomas's position. Thinking they would be of service in caring for the wounded, I held them close up the line, but when the advance was ordered the negro company became enthused as well as their masters, and filled a portion of the line of advance as well as any company of the regiment. While they had no guidon or muster roll, the burial after the battle of four of their number and the care of seven wounded at the hospital, told the tale of how well they fought."

-Cpt Briggs, 4th TN Cavalry

MAY 10, 1862.] HARPER'S WEEKLY. 291

(Previous Page)"Meanwhile those measures are sure to be taken, and they will cut the fangs of these gentry at the same time. TELLING SECRETS. THE letter of Yulee, which was printed in facsimile in the Harper of last week, is one document of a secret history of rebellion which will doubtless be unearthed as our arms advance and we occupy the rebellious section. The Nashville Union is already upon the scent. It appears that the editor of the Louisville Courier was last July an active but secret agent of the conspiracy. With every disclosure of this kind the national deliverance will appear only the more marvelous. It will be an interesting inquiry for the historian how far the plot had ripened in the city of New York in the good old days of Gustavus W. Smith, and Lovell, the Jacques of that redoubtable Robert Macaire. However, as General Gustavus, unlike General Floyd, only stole himself away, we ought not to complain. The definite secret organization of the conspiracy was doubtless complete as to a few leaders. Of course much must have depended upon the developments of popular sympathy which could not be previously calculated. That Jefferson Davis's knowledge of the whole military distribution and sympathy of the country, gained from his occupancy of the War Department, was of the greatest service to him is evident. That his residence for two summers in Maine gave him an opportunity, which he used, to inform himself practically of Northern sentiment is of course unquestionable; and that a vast mass of correspondence and documentary evidence awaits the historian is beyond doubt. Yet, in case of an absolute and sudden reverse, much of this material will be destroyed. Senator Harris, in his speech upon the confiscation bill, said that few people are aware how difficult it would be to convict Davis of treason. Where is he to be tried? Who are the witnesses? He and his confederates are men shrewd enough to remove all dangers which they can foresee, and a trial for treason must be rather conspicuous among them just now. The seized telegrams of last May also will be a quarry for the patient delver. How extremely shaky in their shoes certain gentlemen must have felt on the morning of that announcement! Here were people who had been playing with fire and suddenly the house blazed up! Here were people who had insisted that "the South" (which had filled and controlled every nook and cranny of the Government for years) was "oppressed," and was more than half justified in taking "redress" by arms. How much of all this sympathy was to appear in their telegrams must have greatly exercised these worthy gentlemen. They have the consolation of knowing that History will not be ignorant of the facts, but will duly record the names of all who substantially and morally favored a treason which is destitute of a solitary plausible pretense. FOR US OR AGAINST US? THE correspondent of the New York Herald, in one of its late numbers, reports that the rebels had a regiment of mounted negroes, armed with sabres, at Manassas, and that some five hundred Union prisoners taken at Bull Run were escorted to their filthy prison by a regiment of black men. There is little doubt also, that the fortifications at Manassas and those at Yorktown were the work of the slaves. The same paper reports that "the rebels dug up the remains of our soldiers, and made spurs of their jawbones, cutting up their skeletons into every conceivable form, and sending the trinkets home to their friends." There is plenty of authentic confirmation of these barbarities. Will some one now say why, if slaves are to be armed at all, they should be armed against our friends instead of our enemies? And is it not clear that the "atrocities" which it was supposed the slaves, if freed, would instantly fall to committing, are already perpetrated by the rebels? There is no recorded San Domingo "horror" more horrible than this last story. At least twenty thousand slaves have been liberated by the necessities of the war. Will any friend of the rebels, so fearful of the ungovernable passions of emancipated slaves, please to mention the master whose jawbone they have cut into spurs or whose skull they have made into a drinking-cup? A NEW LITERATURE. THE great rebellion will produce a literature. For a long time the most exciting and interesting books published will be the histories, annals, memoirs, biographies, journals, and disquisitions growing out of the war. There is a literature of the English rebellion, which was Macaulay's strong point; and a literature of the French Revolution, in which Theirs is profoundly versed; and in like manner new names and fames will be made by the works that will be inspired by this enormous war. The material is not only copious, but a thoughtful care preserves..."

Recently there was a controversy over the Chandler Brothers the revisionist apparently missing his own point when arguing that Silas on his own was moving freely back and forth from our lines to a yankee prison camp to visit Andrew.  If on his own why then did he regularly enter a “free” State and return to a life of servitude? I read the recent post on the death of Wash Herron on Jan 18 (no year) which stated he was a cook and a forager; first a while back one of our officers asked why was it when the yankees had a musician or cook he was a soldier but when serving with our troops he was a slave?  I don’t believe there were 20 or 30 thousand Black Confederates but I do feel there were many who could have run but did not!  Why?  Mr. Herron was a forager rather than explain that function he was on his own, and clearly could have ran off;  if so many slaves were running off why not Herron or Chandler?

What is strange these same revisionist love discussing the blacks in the Revolutionary War and at the same time their biggest argument about Black Confederates is the law against their serving.  The “Federal Militia Act-1792” stated enlistment was held to “free able bodied ‘white’ male citizens” which was ignored by units in both the north and South who continued enlisting blacks. Note that meant indentured whites and these in debt were exempt.

Silas was considered a servant by the other men and blacks in the unit, he was very much an equal, displaying just as much hatred for the Yankees as anyone in the whole unit!
- Andrew Martin Chandler, 1912

One of the most famous accounts of a close master/body servant relationship was of Andrew Martin Chandler and his servant Silas. Chandler, 15 years old at the time, joined the confederate service and was put in Company F of the 44th Mississippi Infantry. His 17 year old formal slave accompanied him as he always had done.
Silas Chandler just received his free papers just before the war began but chose to stay with his friend and followed him off to war. After the Battle of Shiloh, Chandler was thrown in a Union prison in Ohio. Silas ran various errands back and forth from the Chandler homestead back in Palo Alto, Mississippi to the prison, seeing to Chandler's essentials. The boy was soon released and the two were very excited to rejoin their outfit.

During the fighting at Chickamauga, Andrew Chandler suffered a great wound to the leg which the surgeons were ready to amputate off. But Silas pulled out a gold coin that the boys were saving to buy some whiskey. Bribing the doctors to let Chandler go, he then carried the injured boy on his back to the nearest train. They rode all the way to Atlanta in a box car. Once there, the hospital doctors saved the boy's leg and life.

Soon after, they returned to home to Palo Alto, where they continued their friendship until their deaths. Chandler gave Silas land to build a church for the black community and saw that his friend got his confederate veteran pension in 1878.

His grave was adorned with a Confederate Cross of Honor that was placed there in 1994. Shortly after that, the great-grandsons of Silas and Andrew met. Traveling from Washington DC, Bobbie Chandler introduced himself to Andrew Chandler Battaile who still lives in Mississippi. They both maintain a long distance friendship that was rooted over a hundred years ago.

Silas Chandler has recently become a celebrated black confederate having his story recognized by the media. The picture of him and Andrew Chandler is the best well know photograph of a master and his body servant and is one of the only photos of it's kind to hang in a museum.

I did this so you could make up your own mind.  Myself I believed they did though not in units or the numbers some claim.  Many of these people who hate the South think Southroners push the argument to prove the war was not over slavery.  A stupid argument most of us believe that anyway.

Things were different then sand blacks and light held a different perspective of the war and each other.  If this is confusing or you want to discuss please feel free to let me know.

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Gary Adams


If it has to do with the War of Northern Aggression, I have usually been able to answer them all.


Assisted editor Southorn Reenactor, consultant with several books and magazines.

Army of Northern Virginia

Assisted editor Southron Reenactor, consultant with several books and magazines to include Coles.

I have three degrees, sadly not in History.

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