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"The American Negro in war" Topic

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03 Oct 2011 3:10 a.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

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GarrisonMiniatures Inactive Member02 Oct 2011 3:50 p.m. PST

Some time ago there was a thread about American Negroes and whether they ever/how often took part in battles. While replying to another thread, I looked up a couple of things in Project Gutenberg and found this:



Thought it might be of interest.


forwardmarchstudios02 Oct 2011 6:09 p.m. PST

Just had some time to skim it. Wow, very interesting. I'll have to go back over it later on when I have some time. Has Project Gutenberg changed their general layouts? I like this much more than the crappy PDF versions you normally see on there. They make buying the book seem that much more desirable.

The sections on the siege of Vicksburg, which I randomly went to, were very interesting.

Personal logo Murphy Sponsoring Member of TMP02 Oct 2011 6:41 p.m. PST

Oh lord…lets not start the "Black Confederates" thing again…

vojvoda Inactive Member02 Oct 2011 7:10 p.m. PST

There was a PBS show on the AWI that spent a whole hour on that. Very interesting at the time and many have never heard of that. Guess because all 57 of the guys who signed that one document in Pa were political elite that is all history remembers. (OH AND I AM NOT TALKING ABOUT THE CONTRACT TO MOVE HCON wink

James Mattes

Bottom Dollar Inactive Member02 Oct 2011 10:52 p.m. PST

"Black Southernor"

Difficulty is the "vested" majority have turned secularized multi-culturalism into a profession of faith which equals zero culture for all… including the elites.

GarrisonMiniatures Inactive Member02 Oct 2011 11:17 p.m. PST

No interest in starting anything again – it's an American thing and I'm British, so I don't have that particular baggage.

What I am interested in is bringing to everyones attention a primary resource that would seem to be both interesting and potentially valuable to those in this community with an interest in the ACW.

Bottom Dollar Inactive Member02 Oct 2011 11:50 p.m. PST

You don't have an interest in that baggage b/c British financiers and slaveholders weren't interested in exporting African slaves to Great Britain.

Bottom Dollar Inactive Member03 Oct 2011 12:02 a.m. PST

The what may have been's of 1776 and 1812 were erased by the 1830's, and for independent modern America, the what may have been got erased when Abe Lincoln got shot.

FusilierDan Supporting Member of TMP03 Oct 2011 5:16 a.m. PST

Thanks for the link. This book was a hassle for me to get through inter library loan.

interesting book but I always have a jaded look at the actual historical facts of this style of book. Much like the "Gallant Sons of Erin" histories of the Irish Brigade. Perhaps it's a style from that time period.

Of course the Perrys have caused me to have more Afro-American troops in my AWI armies than was probably accurate.

Pan Marek Supporting Member of TMP03 Oct 2011 6:52 a.m. PST

Funny how a good deed can end up being lambasted.

RudyNelson03 Oct 2011 9:22 a.m. PST

back in 1981, I presented a paper to a race relations military school. The topic was the African-American in the service of the US Army.

A lot of good information on the subject out there.

Billy Yank Inactive Member03 Oct 2011 2:32 p.m. PST

Another good contemporary source for the USCT is "The Negro in the American Rebellion: His Heroism and his Fidelity" by William Wells Brown. You can get the full text on Google Books.


Billy Yank

Cincinnatus Inactive Member03 Oct 2011 4:47 p.m. PST

Didn't seem to be any reference to "Black confederates" that I could see but a LOT of detailed information on the subject of black men serving in various capacities in the wars mentioned. Definitely an interesting resource and from what I could see, not really biased towards or against the subject matter, just focused on it.

Personal logo Murphy Sponsoring Member of TMP03 Oct 2011 10:01 p.m. PST

Rob; not lambasting you or accusing you. While it does sound interesting I am still trying to get over "failure of reality" shock when debating "Black Confederates" with someone on this site, and the definition of "What qualifies as Primary Valid Documented Reference Sources"….

I'm going to have a beer instead…

GarrisonMiniatures Inactive Member03 Oct 2011 11:15 p.m. PST

Everyone has their own definitioins of just about everything. The beer idea sounds good, but it's 7.30am in the UK and us retired folk have to go out to work (new definition of 'retired': working I did 22.5 hours a week teaching, retired I'm currently up to 25).

Cincinnatus Inactive Member04 Oct 2011 7:29 p.m. PST

Garrison that is such a cop out. Some phrases to keep in mind:

"It's 5 o'clock somewhere"

"How can you drink all day if you don't start with breakfast?"

vojvoda Inactive Member04 Oct 2011 10:57 p.m. PST

Vodka is the breakfast of champions! There are many of African-American descent who have served in the US military since the AWI. Their service was over looked until Vietnam. Many served in all the wars before but got little credit. The Buffalo Soldier were the first I ever learned about and that was in 1976 when I was stationed at Ft Huachuca Az. I was 18 at the time. The contributions of those that served in the AWI are just now being told. Those that served at the Alamo are well documented. Those in the Civil War on both sides are just recently (since the 1980s) being chronicled. Those in WWII, Korea and beyond are the stuff of legend. There are those from the 70s to now who are part of a greater story. I had the honour of serving at HQ VII corps who's commander, Julius W. Becton, Jr. was at the time the highest ranking Black American in the U.S. Military. He was a hoot, his deputy commander was George Patton, son of the WWII General. I know about five African American wargamers. One was at time head of Historicon and President of HMGS. Colour and ethnicity is just that, who you are not what you are.
James Mattes

tirofijoisback Inactive Member09 Oct 2011 1:03 p.m. PST

Black Americans (both slaves and freemen) fought in the French and Indian War. At least two of the former (Jock Linn and Caesar Nero Paul) were captured by French allied Indians at Fort William Henry in August 1757 and at least one of the latter (Thomas Henry) was present at Fort Edward that summer.

These details are taken from a new book on FWH out this month.


tirofijoisback Inactive Member09 Oct 2011 1:08 p.m. PST

Also, the first ever black American officer (as far as I know) was Oliver Law. He commanded the Abraham Lincoln Battalion in the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War. He was killed in action at the Battle of Brunete on 10 July 1937.

GNREP8 Inactive Member07 Dec 2011 3:34 p.m. PST

As a Brit I have to say that for all the problems I am aware of, in terms of opportunity etc the USA is streets ahead of the UK in the progress of black people in the military and govt i think the famour cliche was that Colin Powell was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, whilst his brother, who came to the UK, was a bus conductor.

number4 Inactive Member23 Dec 2011 11:36 p.m. PST

Oliver Law was not even close to being first.

First Black Officer promoted in the field was Stephen Swails of Cooperstown, Mass in 1864.

First Black Officer to graduate from West Point Academy was Henry Flipper in 1877.

Benjamin Oliver Davis, Sr. enlisted as a private soldier, but passed officer training and was made second lieutenant in 1901. He went on to become America's first black General

Supercilius Maximus Supporting Member of TMP27 Dec 2011 12:35 p.m. PST

I think the first black Americans to be commissioned were probably those who commanded the black Loyalist cavalry unit based in the South during 1780-81. I believe it was evacuated to the West Indies and merged with other black units in that region.

There were officers of mixed race in the Royal Navy and the Army during the late 18th and early 19th centuries; invariably they were the sons of white officers.

<<As a Brit I have to say that for all the problems I am aware of, in terms of opportunity etc the USA is streets ahead of the UK in the progress of black people in the military and govt i think the famour cliche was that Colin Powell was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, whilst his brother, who came to the UK, was a bus conductor.>>

As a Brit I'm afraid you've been the victim of self-loathing propaganda Powell doesn't have a brother, and has no relatives in the UK. His father is, or was, British by dint of having been born in Jamaica and having Scottihsh ancestry (indeed, Colin Powell's Scottish armorial bearings were only permissible because of his father's nationality).

Without denying the impact of discrimination, there are other complex social and cultural reasons why there are few black (by which I assume you mean Afro-Caribbean) people at high levels in British political or military circles not least the fact that their over-representation in high-profile industries such as sport and music, and London gives the impression that they are more numerous than they really are (barely 1.5% of the UK population in 2000, but 12% of the London population). Many of those whose ancestry lies outside the Caribbean and West Africa have only arrived in the past decade.

Whilst there were small black communities historically in Bristol and Liverpool, there was never one large enough to produce/elect an MP until the arrival of large numbers of West Indians in the late 1950s. There were black MPs by 1987 and cabinet ministers 10 years later, which was not too bad for an immigrant community in Europe at that time (the first Asian/Indian MPs were elected in the 1890s and there were three by 1900). Whilst it's true there are very few/no black senior officers in HM Armed Forces, this is in large part due to the lack of applicants, the paucity of black middle class families in the UK, and the attitudes of many families (especially Africans) towards military organisations. When my best friend from uni went to Sandhurst in the mid-80s, there were three black UK-born cadets in his intake. All three had either white adoptive parents, or a white father/step-father (met them all at the passing out parade); two of the three fathers were ex-soldiers ex-rankers, not officers. Significant? Dunno. Could have influenced their initial decision to apply; could have influenced the Academy's decision to accept them.

If you'd been around in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, you could have found several successful black entrepreneurs usually ex-slaves from North America in London; there was a TV documentary a few years back on one who escaped after the AWI, became a prize fighter and ended up owning the Regency equivalent of a "fitness centre" for high soceity. Such men do appear to have been well thought of and well treated in general (though not by all). The first recorded black voter was in 1780; the chap also wrote for a newspaper.

If anyone is interested in this subject, this blog is worth spending a little time on; I've linked directly to the section on "immigrants":-


Supercilius Maximus Supporting Member of TMP27 Dec 2011 12:56 p.m. PST

Benjamin Quarles: "The Negro in the American Revolution" is an interesting, if slightly dated (1961), book well worth reading.

Until a few years ago, there was also a fascinating on-line article about "Black Hessians" some 150+ signed up as musicians, pioneers, officers' servants, and musketeers; quite a lot of them went back to Germany and settled into Hessian society.

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