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“There is
Some indescribable communion
Between a man and horse
Who’ve shared the roughest roads,
The longest hours,
The hardest battles;
A singleness of spirit, faith unflagging.”
Jack Knox, excerpt from The General’s Mount: a Poem on General Forrest’s Horse

When discussing the Civil War, the use of animals is often left out of the dialogue because let’s face it, without PETA around, no one really cared if a horse died here or there.  The Civil War was all about marching and mobility, and so horses played a critical role in the transportation of guns, supplies, and soldiers.  Horses were not the only animal utilized, mules and oxen also bared the brunt of the war.

Mules were the best tempered for the war scene and could walk through trails of wooded areas if needed.  They could carry heavy loads, most often with pieces of howitzers through mountainous and wooded terrain.[1] The use of mules to carry howitzers and other guns was a choice based on their fitness for the task, not due to any shortage of horses. The Manual for Mountain Artillery, adopted by the U.S. Army in 1851, stated that the mountain howitzer was ‘generally transported by mules.’ The superiority of mules in rough country outweighed their notorious contrariness under fire.[2]

Horses were the animal of choice but as the war raged on, especially in the South, many were in short supply.  The generals realized the importance of horses and demanded that they be taken care of in the fullest extent so they could go into battle with the utmost strength.  Robert E. Lee and Sherman both issued orders for specific care to be given to the horses under their command, to the extent that if anyone in charge of the horses neglected them, they would be punished.  As the war waged on, both sides would steal horses from no only other soldiers but from the towns they went through as well.

In spite of the care given to artillery horses, the animals still perished at an astounding rate. Many died of disease or were put to death because of exhaustion. Many more were killed alongside their battery mates in battle.[3]

Over an estimated 1.5 million Equines; horses & mules perished during the Civil War this page is dedicated to the memory of their service.[4]  Most horses did not die from one bullet wound, many were shot up seven or eight times. Horses played a major role in moving, supporting, and being a strong arm for both sides during the Civil War.

Civil War monument dedicated to all the horses lost


[1] James R. Chostner,  “America’s Civil War: Horses and Field Artillery,”  History Net, accessed July 3, 2012, http://www.historynet.com/americas-civil-war-horses-and-field-artillery.htm.

[2] Chostner, “America’s,” July 3, 2012.

[3] Chostner, “America’s,” July 3, 2012.

[4] Michael Luca, “Civil War Horse,” High Bridge Battelfield Museum, accessed July 3, 2012, http://highbridgebattlefieldmuseum.com/civil_war_horse.

The Civil War has brought about many controversial ideas; one idea is that if blacks were involved at all in the confederate army.  In all the books and discussions we have had in class, almost always there is a limited, almost nonexistent view of male African Americans and their participation in the Civil War.  Slavery was obviously a big part of the war and there are discussions about African American slaves and African American women but not a lot of details on black involvement in the fighting.  After doing some searching on the internet, I found some interesting things about black confederates, and some perturbed people claiming that they did not exist at all.  Despite all the evidence involved, there are those who claim black men were in no way part of the confederate army and try to defend it with all they can, truth or not.  Then there are those who have looked through many primary sources and found evidence of slaves being involved, but it may have not been on their own free will.

 A personal story of African American slaves involved in the war was John Parker and some others who fell into fighting at Bull Run.  Kate Masur who is a historian for Northwestern explains that all four men were slaves, ordered by their owners to fight for the Confederate cause. ‘We wish[ed] to our hearts that the Yankees would whip and we would have run over to their side but our officers would have shot us if we had made the attempt,’ Parker recalled.[1]  Does this story represent that masters forced their slaves to work in the Confederate army or was it their own will that they joined in the fighting?

 

There are other stories and evidence to prove that there were black confederates.  The battle at  Fort Pillow in Tennessee consisted of a garrison by one regiment of black troops, numbering 262, and a cavalry detachment of similar size, for a total of 557 men.[2]  Then the most infamous group, the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, in which the regiment consisted of all black men.  There is also another story about blacks participating in regiments here and there.  Do you think these blacks in the confederate army are valid or are they made up?

 On one hand there are people like Harvard professor John Stauffer who states that, “They say the Civil War was about states’ rights, and they wish to minimize the role of slavery in a vanished and romantic antebellum South.  But most historians of the past 50 years hold that the root cause of the Civil War was slavery. They bristle at the idea of black Confederates, which they say robs the war of its moral coin as the crucible of black emancipation.”[3]  Even though the amount of black’s fighting for the confederacy was low, it still shows that they were there and they were fighting.  Stauffer states that blacks who shouldered arms for the Confederacy numbered more than 3,000 but fewer than 10,000.[4]  On the other hand, many scholars believe that black confederates did not exist.  Fergus Bordewich, who wrote the fiction book The Root, is not alone in his position. Top-ranking scholars have repeatedly torpedoed the myth, including Bruce Levine, the renowned professor of African-American studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Edwin Bearss, historian emeritus at the National Park Service; and Henry Louis “Skip” Gates, editor-in-chief of The Root and chair of Harvard’s W.E.B. Du Bois Institute. Yet it persists.[5]  What do you think?  Are black confederates a myth or did they really exist?  If they did exist, why do you think they were involved?

A slave cartoon from Harpers Ferry, January 1863.

For more information about black Confederates:

54th Massachusetts:http://www.us-civilwar.com/54th.html

Confederate Law to authorize enlistment of slaves:http://www.history.umd.edu/Freedmen/csenlist.html

Myth of black confederates: http://www.theroot.com/views/myth-black-confederates-persists


[1] Kate Masur, “Slavery and Freedom at Bull Run,”  New York Times Opinion Pages, accessed June 28, 2012, http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/07/27/slavery-and-freedom-at-bull-run/.

[2] J Rickard,”Fort Pillow Massacre, 12 April 1864,”  History of War, accessed June 28, 2012,  http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_fort_pillow_1864.html

[3] John Stauffer, “Black Confederates,” Harvard Gazette, accessed June 28, 2012, http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2011/09/black-confederates/.

[4] John Stauffer, “Black Confederates, ”  Harvard Gazette, accessed June 28, 2012, http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2011/09/black-confederates/.

 [5] Lynette Holloway, “The Myth of Black Confederates Persists, 2011,”  The Root, accessed June 28, 2012,  http://www.theroot.com/views/myth-black-confederates-persists.

One of our books exclusively discusses the United Daughter of the Confederacy, and I got really intrigued and perplexed at the same time about this organization.  The book by Karen Cox, Dixies’s Daughters:  The United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Preservation of the Confederate Culture really opened my eyes into a world that I was totally unaware of.  For one, I could not believe that mainly one organization was responsible for the massive monument collection of Civil War veterans in the South.  Also, women were responsible for preserving the South.  Then, we read the book and it wasn’t as wonderful at it sounded.  I wanted to be optimistic and encouraged that women in the nineteenth century could be so strong and involved with the culture of the entire South.  However, after reading the book, my opinions have skewed due to Cox’s discussion of the hidden agendas that the Southern ladies of the UDC had.

So, my research began by first exploring the UDC website.  On the homepage, nothing really stands out except a woman with a medal around her neck.  Then you begin reading “Why I Am a Daughter of the Confederacy” by the current President-General, Mrs. Martha Van Schaick, for 2010-2012.  Some peculiar phrases stand out to me, especially after reading Cox’s book.  Mrs. Schaick states, “….I was born a Daughter of the Confederacy.  A part of my heritage was that I came into this world with the blood of a soldier in my veins.”[1]  A statement that is interesting to say the least.  Cox discusses how children were “born into the Confederacy” due to the mission of the UDC educating the children of the South.  This woman makes it sound like she didn’t even have a choice to belong to the UDC, over 150 years later; they are still doing the same thing.  If you keep reading there are more perturbed phrases such as comparing her obligation to perform to the Bible, her birthright, and of course the true history of the South, as in the Southern Constitution (not the US Constitution).  All of Mrs. Schaick’s speech draws questions about the UDC still to this day, like nothing has changed.

There are tabs on the right of the website where one can browse through various topics like Children of the Confederacy, Scholarships, Remembrance of 150 years Committee, different divisions around the nation, and programs and events.  None of these are really that off the wall other than the Children of the Confederacy.

The Children of the Confederacy is interesting in that children of today are still being educated and inducted before they even know how to talk.  The current President-General states that, “Together, we can use this sesquicentennial period in our history as a tool to learn and teach others the real truths of the War Between the States and honor the memory of our brave Confederate ancestors. As CofC members, we must never forget!” [2] Still the language of the past is resonating today in the youth of the South. 

How can we progress if this Lost Cause is always present and influencing the tomorrow generation with the ideals of yesterday?  It makes me wonder, because we discussed this in class on how to move forward but can’t if white supremacy and vindication still rule today.  I know it’s just the South, and only a limited part of the South, that probably still thinks the way the UDC did.  But, as an ever increasing mobile society, I can’t help but think the mentality will spread and keep hindering our society to get past segregation.

Here is some references relating to the UDC.

Caroline Meriwether Goodlett Library: open to members of UDC, nonmembers by appointment only

http://www.hqudc.org/index.html\

 Helen Walpole Brewer Library: contains microfilm copies of the National Archives Compiled Confederate Service Records and a limited number of regimental histories, family histories, pension records, and cemetery records.

http://www.hqudc.org/index.html

 UDC magazine:

http://www.hqudc.org/index.html


[1] United Daughters of the Confederacy, “Why I Am a Daughter of the Confederacy,” accessed June 21, 2012, http://www.hqudc.org/index.html.

[2] United Daughters of the Confederacy, “Children of the Confederacy,” accessed June 21, 2012, http://www.hqudc.org/CofC/index.html.