The Era


On September 1, 2011, Harvard Professor John Stauffer voiced his professional opinion about Black Confederates in the Harvard Gazette.   He stated, "Though no one knows for sure, the number of slaves who fought and labored for the South was modest. Blacks who shouldered arms for the Confederacy numbered more than 3,000 but fewer than 10,000 among the hundreds of thousands of whites who served, Black laborers for the cause numbered from 20,000 to 50,000."

The Era as Illustrated By Film Writer & Director Ronald F. Maxwell

Movie Title: Gods and Generals (2003)

Note: In the above movie trailer, American Actor Frankie Faison portrays
Jim Lewis, who was the body servant and cook for General Stonewall Jackson.

Innocent Victim of Pre-Civil War Conflict (1859)

Free Person of Color, Hayward Shepherd Killed

During Abolitionist Attempt to Start an Armed Slave Revolt


Memorial:  In Remembrance of Heywood Shepherd (a.k.a Shepard Hayward)

Location:  Harpers Ferry, (West) Virginia, USA

Photograph Source and Inscription:

Description: In memory of Heywood Shepherd, this memorial was erected on October 10, 1931 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Sons of Confederate Veterans.  Pundits dismiss the fact that the 1859 John Brown Raid at Harper's Ferry (West Virginia, USA) resulted in the death of Heywood Shepherd; rather, pundits spawn controversy about who erected the memorial.  Today, we turn our hearts and minds to the victim, Heywood Shepherd, who during the raid retreated to his post as a porter at the Harpers Ferry railroad station and was undisputedly shot in the lower back by one of the abolitionist.  True liberty enables a man to choose whom he will support even during a time of peril.

Reports from Union Officials (1861-1865)

In order to understand the era, read reports from Union Officials about blacks who served/served with the Confederate States Army and Navy.  Listed in the table below in the "volume" column are the primary sources from the "The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of Union and Confederate Armies."

Special Thanks to Cornell University Library 

Year Volume Union Official Excerpt
August 1861 Series I, Volume IV Colonel John W. Phelps (1st Vermont Infantry) They--the enemy-talked of having 9,000 men. They had twenty pieces of artillery, among which was the Richmond Howitzer Battery, manned by negroes.
May 1862 Series I, Volume XIV Colonel Benjamin C. Christ (50th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers) There were six companies of mounted riflemen, besides infantry, among which were a considerable number of colored men."
July 1862 Series I, Volume XVI Lieutenant Colonel John G. Parkhurst (9th Michigan Infantry) There were also quite a number of negroes attached to the Texas and Georgia troops, who were armed and equipped, and took part in the several engagements with my forces during the day.
July 1862 Series III, Volume II Richard Yates, Governor of Illinois Excerpt from a Letter to President Abraham Lincoln: "They [CSA] arm negroes and merciless savages in their behalf. Mr. Lincoln, the crisis demands greater efforts and sterner measures."
Sept. 1862 Series I, Volume XV Major Frederick Frye (9th Regiment Connecticut Volunteers) Pickets were thrown out that night, and Captain Hennessy, Company E, of the Ninth Connecticut, having been sent out with his company, captured a colored rebel scout, well mounted, who had been sent out to watch our movements."
Sept. 1862 Series I, Volume XIII Major General Samuel R. Curtis (2nd Iowa Infantry) We are not likely to use one negro where the rebels have used a thousand.  When I left Arkansas they were still enrolling negroes to fortify the rebellion.
Oct. 1862 Series I, Volume XIX, Part I-Reports Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Wheeler Downey (3rd Maryland Infantry, Potomac Home Brigade) Question by the Judge Advocate.:  Do you know of any individual of the enemy having been killed or wounded during the siege of Harpers Ferry?

Answer. I have strong reasons to believe that there was a negro killed, who had wounded 2 or 3 of my men. I know that an officer took deliberate aim at him, and he fell over. He was one of the skirmishers of the enemy, and wounded 3 of my men. I know there must have been some of the enemy killed.

Question. How do you know the negro was killed?

Answer. The officer saw him fall.
Jan. 1863 Series I, Volume XVII Brigadier General D. Stuart (U.S. Army 4th Brigade and Second Division) It had to be prosecuted under the fire of the enemy's sharpshooters, protected as well as the men might be by our skirmishers on the bank, who were ordered to keep up so vigorous a fire that the enemy should not dare to lift their heads above their rifle-pits; but the enemy, and especially their armed negroes, did dare to rise and fire, and did serious execution upon our men.
June 1863 Series II, Volume VI Lieutenant-Colonel William H Ludlow (Agent for Exchange of Prisoners / 73rd New York Volunteer Infantry) And more recently the Confederate legislature of Tennessee have passed an act forcing into their military service (I quote literally) all male free persons of color between the ages of fifteen and fifty, or such number as may be necessary, who may be sound in body and capable of actual service; and they further enacted that in the event a sufficient number of free persons of color to meet the wants of the State shall not tender their services, then the Governor is empowered through the sheriff's of different counties to impress such persons until the required number is obtained.
September 1863 Series III, Volume III Thomas H. Hicks (United States Senator, Maryland) Excerpt from a Letter to President Abraham Lincoln: "I do and have believed that we ought to use the colored people, after the rebels commenced to use them against us."
Aug. 1864 Series I, Volume XXXV, Part I, Reports, Correspondence, etc. Brigadier General Alexander Asboth (U.S. Army, District of  West Florida) We pursued them closely for 7 miles, and captured 4 privates of Goldsby's company and 3 colored men, mounted and armed, with 7 horses and 5 mules with equipments, and 20 Austrian rifles
Nov. 1864 Series I, Volume XLI, Part IV, Correspondence, Etc. Captain P. L. Powers (47th Missouri Infantry, Company H) We have turned up eleven bushwhackers to dry and one rebel negro.
April 1865 Series I, Volume XLIX, Part II Major A. M. Jackson (10th U. S. Colored Heavy Artillery) The rebels are recruiting negro troops at Enterprise, Mississippi, and the negroes are all enrolled in the State.

Slave Narrative (1936-1938)

Federal Writers' Project

Richard Mack, Slave Narratives: Volume 14, Part 3, Pages 151-153

"I loved dem days, I loved dem people. We lived better..." "I had thousands of dollars in Confederate money when the War broke up. If we had won I would be rich."
"The time Capt. Wade Hampton was stumping I followed him all over the State; I led 500 head ... led 500 negroes through the county; I was Captain of them; I rode 'Nellie Ponsa' and wore my red jacket and cap and boots; I had a sword too..."
Note:  Red jacket and caps during the American Civil  War were worn by the artillery units.  The picture to the right shows the jacket and cap that Richard Mack would have worn as he led 500 African-Americans through the county.

Photo Courtesy of

21st Century Perspective


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