Black Confederates: exploding America’s most persistent myth

This book review gives a summary of the book Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth, as well as providing some insights from the author on the topic. According to the review, the book is focused on debunking the idea that during the Civil War, black and white soldiers fought in the Confederate Army as equals. This is a narrative that is often put forward by those who believe that the Confederates fought not to preserve slavery but to uphold the concept of states’ rights. Defenders of this argument often point to photographs and statues showing African-American men wearing Confederate soldiers’ uniforms. However, the author of the book argues that these African-American men were actually slaves, who were forced by the thousands to work in the Confederate Army. And far from there being the equality envisioned by defenders of the Confederate cause, the author argues that these slaves were treated just as poorly in the army as they were on the plantations.

I think this article could be useful in an English language class in that it uses relatively uncomplicated language (appropriate, perhaps, to the Intermediate High level) to shed light on an issue related to the history of racism in the United States. The article (and perhaps portions of the book itself) could be used to spur discussion about America’s history of racism, and how that history has had lasting effects. The article actually points to the lasting effects of racism when it mentions that sometimes, former slaves would attend meetings of Confederate veterans, and white Southerners would point to the docility of these men as an example for other African-Americans to follow, rather than getting involved in what would later turn into the civil rights movement.

Jacob Adams

One Response to “Black Confederates: exploding America’s most persistent myth

  • Jacob,
    This looks like a super interesting resource. I really do not know much about this topic – and was always shocked by the “black confederate” argument. I appreciated this quote in the article:
    “So, if you don’t want to deal with racism today and white supremacy today, what you do is you embrace a historical narrative that minimises it in the past. What that does is sort of gives you cover and reinforces your own view of the present.”
    It’s almost like the black confederate narrative is a radicalism of a present-day “progress narratives” –> a blame narrative, a “well, there black people who do this too” (without understanding the historical truth that this book points out).
    I’m interested to read more on this topic and better educate myself on this. Thanks for sharing!

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