Wearing the gray suit : black enlistment and the Confederate military
This thesis examines the role and place of slaves and free black Southerners in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War 1861-1865. Much has been written on the use of slaves and free blacks as a conscript labour force for the Confederacy during the war, but there has been little serious examination of their role within the South's military infrastructure. I argue that black Southerners participated for varied reasons and situations throughout the war as an earlier version of twentieth century military support staff Their role in the regiments of the Confederacy provided them with the title of soldier. It was this role which was defined in Confederate legislative policy, supported through military regulations and verified in company muster and pay sheets. In the post war period these same sources of documentation were utilised by Southern legislators, white veterans, and eventually black 'army veterans,' within the former Confederate states, to establish, Confederate veterans pension benefit. Although there is sufficient evidence to demonstrate that, depending upon the circumstance, some blacks Southerners actually fought for the Confederacy, overall these occurrences were rare. I argue that up until March 1865, instances of black Southerners in combat situations had more to do with the confusion and 'fog of battle,' then a concerted effort by the military high command to place blacks in the ranks as actual combatants. This idea is further supported in the stories written by white veterans, who, in publications like the Confederate Veteran, spoke of such "occurrences" with pride, while at the same time tempered them with concern for the safety of their property. Overall the research addresses the issues surrounding the role and place of black Southerners within the Confederate Army, and the reasoning behind their involvement in the war effort.