Black History Month Includes Confederates

The Dickson Herald, Dickson TN - Jan 28, 2004

Tuesday, Feb. 10

Black History Month includes Confederates

Daris Merriweather will give a presentation on Black Tennesseans in the Confederate Army at the Feb. 10 meeting of Captain E.D. Baxter Camp 2034 Sons of Confederate Veterans in Fairview. Merriweather, of Nashville, has been researching the subject for several years and feels the black Confederate soldiers are among the most neglected in the celebration of Black History Month. The meeting is 7 p.m. in Room 3 of the Fairview Recreation Center. The public is invited to attend. For more information, call 615-799-0916 or email

The Dickson Herald, Dickson TN - Feb 18, 2004

Merriweather speaks to local SCV Camp
By Teri Burton

Why did so many slave and free black men fight on the Confederate side of the Civil War? What was the turning point for the black Confederate soldiers in the Civil War and how did the Conscription Act of 1862 affect the slaves and the free men in the time period?

According to Daris Merriweather, not much is widely known about the African-American role on the Confederate side, although much is revealed about the black men who fought for the Union to the north.

Merriweather was the guest speaker at the February meeting of the Capt. E.D. Baxter Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans Tuesday evening in celebration of Black History Month.

In addition, Merriweather said, not many people are aware that free black men also had slaves of their own.

A longtime researcher and collector of slave objects, Merriweather said he is a descendent of slaves and has garnered more items than he can catalogue. He said he plans to eventually publish a book on his research.

“I’ve been doing this for 16 years,” he said. “The book is 16 years in the making. You’ve got to really dig for this stuff. Lord knows how many diaries I’ve read.”

Merriweather displayed a number of slave items at the meeting, including leg and field shackles, original newspaper clippings, photographs, tobacco pipes, letters and several other recorded documents from the Civil War era. Some of the documents were copies of actual enlistment papers for blacks who joined the Confederate Army, either voluntarily or by force.

“They’re probably the most neglected segment of black history,” said Dennis Lampley, commander for the Capt. E.D. Baxter Camp. “The blacks that fought on the Union side have had a lot of publicity, like movies made about them. We, as Sons of Confederate Veterans, our charge is to honor our Confederate ancestors and that includes the Cherokee, Chocktaw, Hispanics, Jews, blacks, everybody.”

Merriweather said there were a number of reasons why some African Americans joined the Confederate Army, including economic reasons.

“Did they want the same lifestyle to remain?” he said. “Was it because his mother told him to go and protect his master? Or was he standing behind his country? Those are some of the reasons.”

He went on to explain that each black soldier received $8 per month in Confederate duty pay and a one-year clothing allowance. Servants in the “mess” each received “one ration.”

The Confederate black soldiers could achieve the rank of captain, while the Union’s black soldiers could only attain the rank of sergeant, he said.

Merriweather said all of the books written on black soldiers in the Civil War focus on what the black troops in the North did, but not what the troops in the South did. His research, he said, goes back to pre-war slavery and leads into the Civil War.

“None of the books tell you that blacks owned slaves,” he said. “Blacks owned slaves, slaves owned slaves, it’s amazing. The books don’t teach you that.”

Formerly an antique collector, Merriweather said he was led to delve into the issue of slavery and Confederate black soldiers when another antique collector told him he should start a black antique collection.

“I said, ‘What is black antique? and she said, ‘Well, black people owned stuff like black dolls and this and that and I thought, ‘I haven’t seen that in any books,’ because all the books were written up North. So I started to collect just odds and ends.”

A woman who lived near Merriweather was a former slave and when she passed away he decided to start collecting items of slavery.

“I found a ton of stuff,” he said. “I own a sign from a slave company. The shackles that I brought here are rare, very rare, especially the field shackle.”

Besides writing a book, Merriweather said he eventually plans to open a museum when he retires.

“The more I find, the more I want to find,” he said.

Originally published Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Images provided by Camp Members

Daris Merriweather spoke at the February 10th Meeting of the SCV Camp 2034 about Black Soldiers in the Confederate Army.

There were many interesting pictures, photographs and publications for the audience to examine. Many of them were the original publications.
Daris had stacks of information from which he selected several articles and stories to give the audience information on the role of black men in the Confederate Army.
There collection of artifacts for the audience it examine. The artifacts included several types of shackles, one set actually used in the battle of Nashville and some clay pipes.



Copyright © - SCV Camp 2034
All Rights Reserved
Last Updated
Site Designed and Maintained by WebmasterBob