Black Confederates Primary Document 2 - Mobile Al 1865

jgoodguy

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Re: Mobile AL BCs
I do not accept alleged 'Black Confederates' without some documentation with unit designations, names, and ranks, because otherwise, we do not know if they were newspaper editors' imagination, combatants, labor corps, contractors or camp servants.
 

jgoodguy

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April 5, 1865 (From Spanish Fort) 1:30 PM (ORA, Vol. 49, Pt. 2, p. 1204)

General Randall L. Gibson to General Maury: “Have you any negro troops? I would be glad to get some.”

April 5, 1865 (From Spanish Fort) 3:00 PM (ORA, Vol. 49, Pt. 2, p. 1205)

General Randall L. Gibson to General Maury: “If I can’t get howitzers I will take mountain howitzers. I will make good soldiers of all the negroes you send me, provided I have axes and spades. I am economizing all ammunition and secure all the enemy gives. All’s well. Hope to see you tomorrow.” [NOTE – All the men of the garrison were working laboriously around the clock to strengthen the earthworks]

(ORA, Vol. 49, Pt. 1, p. 317)​


- The following day, 4/5/65, Gibson at Spanish Fort, specifically requested "negro troops" and in separate dispatch said he would make good soldiers of them. Note his specific choice of the words "troops" and "soldiers."
Look at the rest of it, though. "...provided I have axes and spades." His plan was to have them act as laborers.

In Virginia less than 1% of available Black Confederates were recruited so it's doubtful at that late stage of the war they could get hundreds of blacks who were willing to fight had they been freed. They could certainly have gotten hundreds of blacks who were enslaved to go where they were told. As to whether they would actually fight to keep themselves enslaved, that's another question. Mobile County, 1860 FMC Ages 15-50: 260 1% of 260 is 2 or 3--I find it hard to believe hundreds showed up.

It is reasonable to assume based on evidence that someone wanted to use African-Americans as soldiers at Spanish Fort. The issue is if their wants were realized. In Virginia it was wanted that thousands of African-Americans would become CSA soldiers. Less than 80 were recruited trained and sent to the lines. Using as a source Free African American Population in the US : 1790-1860 VA had 58,042 free blacks yet only 80 joined up. AL had 2,690 free blacks. Using that ratio 80 in 58,000, then 4 would have joined up in Alabama.

When Alabama turned up the heat on free blacks before Civil War says Mobile had 800 free blacks. Figure 1/3 are military age then that is 200 AAs of military age if we believe your assertion almost all of them joined up which I find unlikely to get a few hundred assuming few hundred was 200 or less. Early war years says Mobile had 29,258 28 percent slaves or 8,484 which getting several hundred to be laborers seems likely. It appears to me the source of the several hundred was slave laborers or a mixture of free African-Americans contractors and slave.
 

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34 colored prisoners are reported, not hundreds and there is no evidence of if they were camp servants or what.
 

jgoodguy

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Wanting does not mean getting.
The free back population of Mobile seems insufficient to support the several hundred descriptions.
No newspaper reports about the successful recruiting.
Prisoner reports do not detail what the blacks were.
Without the muster/roster roll information, names are not available to check other references.
Therefore the most likely explanation is slave labor
 
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