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Misinformation About the Confederacy Freeing Black Slaves

Misinformation About the Confederacy Freeing Black Slaves

Someone shared this on Facebook:

Not only had I never heard this before, it seemed suspicious.

Being something of a skeptic, I try to investigate all suspicious claims, because I don't want to be one of those people who shares misinformation as truth, nor do I want to rewrite history.

Thankfully, there's a source!

Yes, this page actually exists! I highly recommend you read it, because it does not, in fact, say what the picture does. In fact, I'm kind of embarrassed, they should not have provided a link at all.

Because since they provided the link, we're going to assume that they are citing it as valid, factual information. They wouldn't misrepresent the contents of that article that they cited, would they?

Oh yes, they would. This is my response.

I'm glad they provided the link in the pic, so we can read it.

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/confederacy-approves-black-soldiers

I'd suggest you read it. For instance, about all of the opposition to arming black slaves.

"One politician asked, “What did we go to war for, if not to protect our property?” Another suggested, “If slaves will make good soldiers, our whole theory of slavery is wrong.”

"Lee asked that the slaves be freed as a condition of fighting, but the bill that passed the Confederate Congress on March 13, 1865,did not stipulate freedom for those who served."

Well, that was embarrassing.

Also note the date. 1865. That's going to be important if someone wants to claim they are the first. Sure hope we don't run into an earlier instance of black--actually free--men fighting for the Union.

"The measure did nothing to stop the destruction of the Confederacy. Several thousand blacks were enlisted in the Rebel cause, but they could not begin to balance out the nearly 200,000 blacks who fought for the Union."

Note that 200,000 black soldiers were already fighting for the Union.

The US Navy accepted black soldiers as early as 1861.

"The Second Confiscation and Militia Act of July 17, 1862, was the first step toward the enlistment of African Americans in the Union Army. It did not explicitly invite blacks to join the fight, but it did authorize the president “to employ as many persons of African descent as he may deem necessary and proper for the suppression of this rebellion…in such manner as he may judge best for the public welfare.”

"Some blacks took this as their cue to begin forming infantry units of their own. African Americans from New Orleans formed three National Guard units: the First, Second and Third Louisiana Native Guard. (These became the 73rd, 74th and 75th United States Colored Infantry.) The First Kansas Colored Infantry (later the 79th United States Colored Infantry) fought in the October 1862 skirmish at Island Mound, Missouri. And the First South Carolina Infantry, African Descent (later the 33rd United States Colored Infantry) went on its first expedition in November 1862. These unofficial regiments were officially mustered into service in January 1863."

So we have the Union mustering troops as early as 1862 and 1863, which would explain why there were 200,000 of them to a 'few thousand' of the Confederate slave force--none of whom were guaranteed their freedom when the fighting stopped, because it wasn't actually part of the bill.

My source for the rest of this is the same as the one in the picture, just a different article: http://www.history.com/topics/american-civil-war/black-civil-war-soldiers

So the claim that the Confederate army was (1) the first and (2) freed their soldiers is wrong. And I think we can add, in the words of several politicians from the time that (3) the war was definitely revolving around—and directly motivated by—slavery. What was that again? "What did we go to war for, if not to protect our property?"

But my favorite part of that second article is this, from Jefferson Davis:

"Confederate President Jefferson Davis called the Emancipation Proclamation “the most execrable measure in the history of guilty man” and promised that black prisoners of war would be enslaved or executed on the spot. (Their white commanders would likewise be punished—even executed—for what the Confederates called “inciting servile insurrection.”) Threats of Union reprisal against Confederate prisoners forced Southern officials to treat black soldiers who had been free before the war somewhat better than they treated black soldiers who were former slaves—but in neither case was the treatment particularly good."

Honestly, why would you post this? Names withheld to protect the guilty, but come on! Before you make an emotional appeal, especially one that revises history, especially one in which the source quoted is saying the opposite of what is in the picture, why would you share it?

Why did you not read the source first?

Why did the person who made the image in the first place, when they were pasting in the URL to the picture, why did they not read the source first?

Or maybe they did, and they just knew that having the source would make it sound legitimate, and that no one would bother looking it up. In which case that's called misinformation.

And revisionist history.

UPDATE: Apparently this is actually a picture of Cherokee Indians, just for an additional bit of 'embarrassing wrong' in this meme.

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