"Confederate Negro" is a term that was used in North Carolina and other southern states to refer to blacks who made significant contributions to the Confederacy during the Civil War. Some slaves served in noncombatant roles, such as nurses in government hospitals, supply wagon and ambulance drivers, and cooks. They also helped to construct fortifications around cities and strategic military sites such as rivers and railroads. At times slaves carried news from home and delivered supplies and food to their masters on the battlefield, or they brought home the wounded and dead.
As Confederate military fortunes continued to fall, more and more southern whites began to contemplate changes in the slave system, including sending black men—the last source of troops—to fight. In the waning months of 1864 and early 1865, whites debated in the press, the pulpit, and political forums the wisdom of using black soldiers, and Gen. Robert E. Lee announced his plan for arming and freeing the slaves. Yet the Confederate Congress delayed. On 13 Mar. 1865 the southern lawmakers finally authorized President Jefferson Davis to recruit up to 300,000 black troops, but Lee's surrender at Appomattox on 9 April ended the war before they took to the field.
Caption Reads: " A Rebel Captian Forces Negroes to Load Cannon Under the Fire of Berdan's Sharp Shooters- as seen through a telescope from our lines, and sketched by Mr. Mead." Harper Weekly, May 10, 1862. Available from http://www.sonofthesouth.net/leefoundation/civil-war/1862/confederate-negro-soldier.htm (accessed May 18, 2012).
1 January 2006 | Williams, Wiley J.