Once again, over at Facebook’s Southern Heritage Preservation Group, Royal Diadem (Ann DeWitt) has posted more information about the research she is doing on black confederates. As you can see from the image above she has begun to dive into the National Archives and Records Administration and their vast holdings of Union and Confederate documentation. In a post on this specific NARA file she posted this statement:
Research continues on the Black Confederates who were imprisoned atCampDouglas. The book “To Die inChicago” by George Levy, states “General Morgan [CSA] had ignored orders fromRichmondto report the presence of blacks in his [Confederate] army. As a result, many were captured on free soil in Confederate uniforms. The [Union] arm…y held black prisoners at Camp Douglas despite President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, which declared that slaves captured with Rebel forces would be ‘forever free’ . . . it seemed that these men were not considered slaves.”
In other words, men like Isaac Cox were considered soldiers by the Union Army at Camp Douglas. Isaac Cox’s Confederate Soldier Record is at the National Archives Catalog ID 586957 and microfilm M319.
She makes special note to explain that those blacks taken prisoner were not considered slaves and that meant they were take to be soldiers by the Union army. However if one looks at the words on the card it is quite clear how Isaac Cox was seen…it is written right on the card in the remarks section: Servant. How Ms. DeWitt or the other LCT’s over at SHPG decided he was a soldier despite the evidence sitting right in front of them is beyond me.
On the other hand, why Isaac was still held as a prisoner despite the fact of the Emancipation Proclamation is a more important thing to discuss. Why was Isaac still held as a prisoner? What can we infer from the NARA card? Not much…about as much as we can conclude that he was a soldier.
What might be the reason for Isaac’s listing as a prisoner instead of being freed under the provisions of the Emancipation Proclamation? Well, it is possible that when the information was taken of his capture he had not been release as a freedman yet. You will not that his date of capture is the 26th of July (The same day I write this) 1863 and the card is for the month of August. Could he have been released the next day? It’s possible, but with what is presented here by Ms. DeWitt it is impossible to know. Could Isaac have been loyal to his master and stayed with him instead of taking his freedom? Again, possible, but without more information about Isaac it is impossible to tell.
That then, is the rub, asLincolnwould say. For those of us who wrestle with the subject of black confederates it is not a matter of denying these men their rightful place in history…it is providing them their rightful place in history. Ms. DeWitt and people like Susan Frise Hathaway who runs Facebook’s Anti-Virginia Civil War Sesquicentennial site called Virginia War Between the States Sesquicentennial, and David Tatum’s “ATrueConfederate” can bitch and moan about me being a denier of black confederates as much as they like. But with information like what Ms. DeWitt is providing here and here it is an injustice to those blacks who did serve in some capacity during the war.