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Searching for Black ConfederatesThe Civil War's Most Persistent Myth$
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Kevin M. Levin

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781469653266

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469653266.001.0001

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Camp Slaves on the Battlefield

Camp Slaves on the Battlefield

(p.37) Chapter Two Camp Slaves on the Battlefield
Searching for Black Confederates

Kevin M. Levin

University of North Carolina Press

Confederates often wrote of loyal, hardworking, and brave slaves in their diaries and journals. The loyal slave narrative became a central part of the Lost Cause narrative. There are reports of camp slaves entering battle alongside their enslavers; however, having Black men on the battlefield challenged southern ideas of white masculinity and honor. Camp slaves were present on battlefields to transport the wounded and guard supplies, not to fight. Frederick Douglass stated that the south was enlisting Black men to pressure the Lincoln administration to recruit black men. His claims could have been rooted in his use of battlefield reports of armed black Confederates for propaganda purposes. Some free Black communities offered their services to stay in the good graces of whites but were not accepted into the Confederate army. Black people in New Orleans formed the Native Guard in an attempt to protect their property and social rank by demonstrating their loyalty to the Confederacy. Although the story of the Native Guard is often cited as evidence of loyal black soldiers, the unit was never considered a part of the Confederate army. As the war continued and the army became more desperate, serious consideration was given toward recruiting Black men.

Keywords:   Lost Cause, Battlefield, Camp Slave, Native Guard, Loyal slave narrative

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