Tuesday, Feb. 10
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
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.
Ive been doing this for 16 years, he said. The
book is 16 years in the making. Youve got to really dig
for this stuff. Lord knows how many diaries Ive 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.
Theyre 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 Unions 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, its
amazing. The books dont 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
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 havent 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.
Wednesday, February 18, 2004