BLACK CONFEDERATE HERITAGE
This fact sheet is prepared by the Sons of Confederate Veterans Education Committee for distribution to professors, teachers, librarians, principals, ethnic leaders, members of the press, and others interested in promoting an understanding of Black contributions to United States history. The SCV hopes this information will enrich the celebration of Black History Month during February. This sheet may be freely copied and distributed without permission or notice; if republished in part or whole, please credit the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
"There are at the present moment, many colored men in the Confederate Army doing duty...as real soldiers, having muskets on their shoulders and bullets in their pockets...." Frederick Douglas, former slave & abolitionist (Fall, 1861)
How many? Easily tens of thousands of blacks served the Confederacy as laborers, teamsters, cooks and even as soldiers. Some estimates indicate 25% of free blacks and 15% of slaves actively supported the South during the war.
Why? Blacks served the South because it was their home, and because they hoped for the reward of patriotism; for these reasons they fought in every war through Korea, even though it meant defending a segregated United States.
Emancipation? President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation did not free a single slave. Issued at a time when the Confederacy seemed to be winning the war, Lincoln hoped to transform a disagreement over secession into a crusade against slavery, thus preventing Great Britain (and France) from intervening on the side of the South. The proclamation allowed slavery to continue in the North as well as in Tennessee and large parts of Louisiana and Virginia. It applied only to Confederate-held slaves, which Lincoln had no authority over, but not to slaves under Federal control.
Lincoln's Views? "I am not in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office...." 9/15/1858 campaign speech "I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery...." 3/4/1861 First Inaugural Address "I am a little uneasy about the abolishment of slavery in this District [of Columbia]...." 3/24/1862 letter to Horace Greeley "If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it...." 8/22/1862 letter to Horace Greeley, New York Tribune editor.