This article is my primary source. It is written by John Stauffer, a Harvard Graduate who studies the roles of African Americans in the Confederacy. He highlights how, even now, 70 percent of Southerners believe that the Civil War was not as much about the slavery issue as it was about state's rights. This is despite the 50 percent of historians who believe that the Civil War was about the slavery issue more than anything else. Stauffer explained how the number of African Americans who took up arms for the Confederacy was 3,000 to 5,000 people. However, the number of slaves who were laborers for the Confederacy was 20,000 to 50,000. To me, this is eye opening because, the Confederates had no problem with letting their slaves do the grunt work for them, but it took years for them to agree to let slaves fight alongside them. Even though these numbers represent less than one percent of the Confederate population, it is still used as an argument that Confederates use to defend the South's views on slavery, because they feel that if African Americans would fight with them for slavery, it had to be at least somewhat just. However, Stauffer argues that many slaves may have been forced into slavery or fighting as a way to get out of destitution. In fact, Stauffer follows the life of John Parker, an African American soldier who was forced to build barricades and fire cannons at Union Soldiers. Parker said that all the while, he "worried about dying, prayed for a Union Victory, and dreamed of escaping to the other side." Stauffer used this example to conclude that "Masters put guns to the heads of slaves, to make them shoot Yankees." The African Americans who were freed for their service faced re-enslavement elsewhere, so they "were making displays of loyalty that were really just about self-preservation." I think this can be used to represent the issue of black Confederates as a whole because what could have easily been mistaken for loyalty or, in some people's opinion, Stockholm Syndrome, could have actually just been African American's way of surviving and biding their time until they could get away from the South and gain freedom in the North.
This article is also my primary source. This article, like the others, highlights how the Confederates spent years debating whether to allow African Americans to fight alongside them, however, it also examines how the African Americans were affected by this decision and how Robert E. Lee took part in allowing African Americans to fight. after Lee says that African American soldiers are "Not only expedient, but necessary", The Confederate government allowed African Americans to fight. However, this allowance that many Confederates thought was the most honorable and brave action any man could commit, may have been more of a death sentence or an irrefutable invitation to their own misery. Many African Americans were impressed into the Confederate Army, without any real promise of freedom for their work in the Army. In fact, it could be argued that some African Americans were treated worse during their time in the Confederate lines than they were with their masters at home. Some were forced to serve under white officers in segregated lines, where they were used and abused by the officers and often singled out and targeted by other Confederate soldiers. Others were stuck performing mundane tasks or acting as teamsters. However, Those who fought, fought with courage and strength and were unflagging in their attempts to help the Confederacy. In fact, their actions were said to change the opinions of many Confederates who fought alongside them, regarding their ability to fight with white men.
This Article sites specific examples of African American Confederates and why their history is so unclear. National Park Service Historian, Ed Bearrs says, "During my research, I came several instances where black men stated that they were soldiers, but you can plainly see where 'soldier' is crossed out and 'body servant' was inserted or 'teamster' on pension applications." However, another historian said that he isn't surprised that some African Americans wanted to fight. "...some, if not most, Black southerners would support their country, demonstrating it’s possible to hate the system of slavery and love one’s country.” For instance, an African American Confederate, when captured by Union soldiers and bribed to desert said, “Sir, you want me to desert, and I ain’t no deserter. Down South, deserters disgrace their families and I am never going to do that.” So, while most African Americans were forced to fight, and were often treated badly when they did so, other African Americans felt loyal to their master and felt that it would be disloyal to betray them. In fact, as shown in the picture above, many African American soldiers were at war for the sole purpose of serving their master, and to bring their bodies home to be properly buried if they died.
This article shows how Confederate leaders argued for years about whether to allow African Americans to fight alongside the Confederate soldiers. However, in 1865, the Confederates were facing defeat, so they knew they had to set aside their pride to decide what was best for the good of the country. Since arming slaves was essentially setting them free, many people argued against letting African Americans fight. Some asked, "What did we go to war for, if not to protect our property?" Others argued that "If slaves would make good soldiers, our whole theory on slavery is wrong." However, Robert E. Lee knew that African American soldiers might be the Confederacy's only hope, which is why he said, "We must decide whether slavery shall be extinguished by our enemies and the slaves be used against us, or use them ourselves." Thus, a Bill was passed that allowed African Americans to fight, however it did not allow them to be free if they survived. Even though over a thousand African Americans were enlisted, however, the Confederacy didn't stand a chance against the 200,000 Union soldiers.
This article explains how black soldiers could never really serve in the confederate army. They weren't even considered a full person, not to mention the Confederates couldn't give a slave a weapon and expect them to fight for the confederate cause willingly and enthusiastically, and then return to being someone's property. In fact, Robert Toombs said, "The worst calamity that could befall us would be to gain our independence by the valor of our own slaves instead of our own... The day that the army of Virginia allows a negro regiment to enter their lines as soldiers, they will be degraded, ruined, and disgraced." With this attitude, I'd imagine that no negro would want to fight for a cause in which they don't earn any respect. In fact, after the Emancipation Proclamation, many African Americans in the South rose up against their owners and began to revolt. However, many slaves still stayed loyal to their owners, or were forced to serve behind the lines as cooks, manual laborers, or teamsters. Some even went to war with their owners as an aide.