Black History Month
their appeals. This ordeal ended when a regiment was marched off to fire a volley at the chimney, eventually putting a bullet through the sniper's head.
Serving in a military capacity wasn't the only way blacks could prove their loyalty to the Confederacy. Black patriotism took many forms, "some were sincerely patriotic, others were alarmed individuals acting on self-preservation and economic interest". There are other prominent cases of black patriotism among slaves and free men. Many of these people saw their cause as protecting their homes. "Despite the hardships of slavery loyal blacks made financial and material contributions to the Confederacy". In Alabama some slaves brought 60 dollars worth of watermelons to Montgomery to be donated to the soldiers of that state. A South Carolina slave was impelled to donate all the money here had saved, which ended up being 5 dollars. Some slaves used their talents to raise money for the Confederacy. The Confederate Ethiopian Serenaders were one such group. They were a collection of slave singers "who turned over profits from some of their shows to the Confederate cause". By doing this, these slaves hoped the restrictions they lived under I the institution of slavery would be loosened. It became a custom for slaves to demonstrate their loyalty by holding balls and concerts to raise money for the aiding of Southern soldiers and their families.
The motivation of black Confederates was to protect their homeland with a faith of what the future could be. By 1860 there were 500,000 free blacks in the United States, the vast majority in the South. Slaves knew freedom was attainable from the sight of free blacks in their communities. They knew some has been freed through manumission, while others purchased their freedom by working side jobs. Blacks Confederates and African Americans had to position themselves in case the South won the ear. They had to prove they were patriots in the anticipation their future would be better. From this risk of their display of unequivocal patriotism they hoped to be rewarded. Most black Confederates were not given an opportunity to serve in the front line as soldiers. But they did what they could as loyal civilians.
Why would blacks support, and possibly want to fight for, the Confederacy? One is money. The pay rate for the laborers was greater than that of the white soldier's pay rate. The black laborers were paid 30 dollars a month while the Confederate soldiers made only 11 dollars. By volunteering their service to the South these blacks earned enough money for themselves and their families back home. Blacks, both free and slave, were able to make more money by
trading whiskey, food, horses and other possessions they might steal through their foraging missions. There is a story of a servant who was captured by the Yankees, stole two horses, and got back to his Confederate line. When he got back he sold one horse for fifty dollars and kept the other one for himself.
"The quest for freedom also played a great role in black Confederate decisions". With good service to the master or to the Southern cause, there was the hope of being manumitted after the war. Slaves also knew the army life offered them a chance for adventure and an opportunity to get away from the drudgery of plantation work. Like many of the white men who volunteered and fought in the war because of strong regional pride, the local attachment blacks felt prompted them to come to the aide of the Confederacy.
Blacks placed their lives in danger for a country and its cause; a cause which many Americans would not expect blacks to support. Slaves and free blacks joined for different reasons. The Louisiana free blacks stated in a letter written to the New Orleans' Daily Delta: "The free colored population love their home, their property, their own slaves and recognize no other country than Louisiana, and are ready to shed their blood for her defense. They have no sympathy for Abolitionism; no love for the North, but they have plenty for Louisiana."
To better comprehend these people we should understand that most people do things for immediate reasons and not abstract ones. Instead of revolts among the blacks, slave and free, as predicted by some, many became possessed of a fervor -originating in fear-which was stimulated by an enthusiasm of the white population. "The gaily decked cities; the flags, bunting and streamers of all colors; the mounted cavalry; the artillery trains with brazen cannons drawn by sturdy steeds; followed by regiments of infantry in brilliant uniforms, with burnished muskets, glittering bayonets and beautiful plumes; all these scenes greatly interested and delighted the Negro, and it was filling the cup of many with ecstasy to the brim, to be allowed to connect themselves, even in the most menial way, with the demonstrations". Blacks saw first hand what was going on. They knew they had an opportunity to better themselves, which was all many of them really wanted. When the war broke out everybody thought it was going to be over quickly. Slaves and free blacks knew this too, which is why many of them displayed an enthusiasm that was gone by 1863, when the South began to lose the war.
Celebrate Black History Month!