The Confederate Debate About Arming the Slaves

Here’s historian John Coski, then of the Museum of the Confederacy and now of the American Civil War Museum, giving an excellent presentation on the confederate proposal to arm slaves. Toward the end of the presentation he gives an excellent rundown of the black confederate myth.

The video’s description tells us, “In February 1865 Southern statesmen, soldiers, and civilians were engaged in the last stages of a months-long public debate over a proposal to enlist enslaved and free African-American men ‘to perform military service.’ The Confederate Congress approved the legislation in March and the Army began enlisting African-American soldiers in the weeks before Appomattox. Using manuscripts and printed items from the Museum’s library collections, the Museum’s Historian John Coski explored the debate over enlisting African-American soldiers and its significance for modern debates about ‘Black Confederates.’ ”



  1. bob carey · · Reply

    As you know one of the building blocks of the “Lost Cause” myth is that the slaves were content in their servitude. If this is so then why utilize emancipation as a recruiting incentive to join the Confederate armies?
    Perhaps one of the neo-confederate people who read your blog would care to respond to this inquiry.
    Keep up the good work.

    1. Just another of the many examples of the cognitive dissonance required to be a confederate then and a neoconfederate now.

  2. Jimmy Dick · · Reply

    It is always interesting to hear the lost causers yammer on and on about black confederates and then confront them with the primary sources involved with actually arming blacks. If there were so many black confederates, then why did this extremely heated debate occur in the first place?

    So much evidence and none of it showing armed black confederates until the end of the war and even then they didn’t have arms. Their interpretation involves ignoring the facts in favor of the fiction.

    1. And then there’s their fumbling of what they think is evidence. A prime example is the supposed “regiment of black cooks” one neoconfederate claimed to have found, which turned out to be Cook’s Regiment of white soldiers.

  3. Bob Nelson · · Reply

    Good presentation. Always enjoy hearing John. Is he the fellow who described the notion of black Confederates as “all nonsense?” Anybody remember?

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