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The Arguments


Two Arguments combined---

Dr Walter Williams, an economics professor, made the statement in his book "More liberty means less government: our Founders knew this well" page 39, uses the figures of Pro. Edward C. Smith to support his statement that "
Between 60,000 and 93,000 Blacks served in the Confederate Army in "some capacity." Various other Confederate websites go a little bit further and report "of this 60,000 Black Confederates 13,000 "saw the elephant" meaning combat, without showing any sources for this figure.

1. http://www.aeispeakers.com/Williams-Walter.htm
2. http://www.american.edu/cas/faculty/esmith.cfm

SHAPE would suppose if the figure of 60,000 to 93,000 is within a reasonable range, then the 13,000 in combat could also be reasonable. One thing we, as reserachers, do know for certain, we have no exact figure for Whites who served in the Confederate army, therefore it is very unlikely we will ever know the exact number of Blacks who served. We will certainly never know how many actually "faced the elephant." We can be certain that if all blacks served in rear elements -- cooks, teamsters, etc. that when these rear areas were overran, or came under attack, it became every man for himself and these rear elements would have surely seen combat. Rear areas were often shelled, or flanked by cavalry thus exposing anyone to combat.

Most people argue the fact that Dr. Williams may be a brilliant mind in economics, but is not a trained historian, these are not even his figures. This is the whole argument for dismissing Dr. Williams. They say nothing about his education or that maybe he simply has an interest in the War for Southern Independence or his Black Heritage and perhaps has came to nearly the same conclusion as Dr. Smith. We are forced to acknowledge that those who present these arguments against Dr. Williams do not have the educational background or the reserach expierence to dismiss anyone.

It has always been SHAPE's belief that a trained historian is just that --trained. Most of these "trained" present the popular way of thinking and refuse to go against the grain in order to be accepted. That being said we have always believed that anyone with an open mind can read and make up their own mind about a given set of historical facts when these facts are presented in a clear and accurate manner. It is also inconceivable how these trained historianscan miss some of the most obvious facts relating to the service of Negros in the Confederate army. Could the reason for this 'overlooking" be lazy, maybe biased also???

The school board of Virginia approved a passage in an elementary book that "Our Virginia" by Joy Masoff that stated thousands of Blacks fought in Confederacy. including two battalions under Stonewall Jackson. Then because some professor protested the passage it was covered over. We here at SHAPE doubt the professers history knowledge. We also ask what are the sources used to arrive at the conclusion the statement is not accurate?

Proving or disproving "fought" would be almost impossible. Does fought mean served? Does served mean helped or aid or does it mean enrolled? Does enrolled mean that a person received pay or was paid for a service? At this point this is generally where the lines of the argument gets blurry and the hair splitting and "I am gonna out slick you" begins. The facts change from "in some capacity" to thousands of armed black soldiers or some other version of history to support their side of the argument.

This is the defination SHAPE subscribes to-----
THE PRIVATE SOLDIER.

In the fullest sense, any man in the military service who receives pay, whether sworn in or not, is a soldier, because he is subject to military law. Under this general head, laborers, teamsters, sutlers, chaplains, &c. are soldiers. In a more limited sense, a private soldier is a man enlisted in the military service to serve in the cavalry, artillery, or infantry. He is said to be enlisted when he has been examined, his duties of obedience explained to him, and after he has taken the prescribed oath.


General August Kautz's, USA,”Customs of Service, for Non-Commissioned Officers and Soldiers" (1864), page. 11



Quotes --

Fredrick Douglas made this quote in one of his speeches----

"It is now pretty well established, that there are at the present moment many colored men in the Confederate army doing duty not only as cooks, servants and laborers, but as real soldiers, having muskets on their shoulders, and bullets in their pockets, ready to shoot down loyal troops, and do all that soldiers may to destroy the Federal Government and build up that of the traitors and rebels.
There were such soldiers at Manassas, and they are probably there still. There is a Negro in the army as well as in the fence, and our Government is likely to find it out before the war comes to an end. That the Negroes are numerous in the rebel army, and do for that army its heaviest work, is beyond question. They have been the chief laborers upon those temporary defences in which the rebels have been able to mow down our men. Negroes helped to build the batteries at Charleston. They relieve their gentlemanly and military masters from the stiffening drudgery of the camp, and devote them to the nimble and dexterous use of arms. Rising above
vulgar prejudice, the slaveholding rebel accepts the aid of the black man as readily as that of any other. If a bad cause can do this, why should a good cause be less wisely conducted? We insist upon it, that one black regiment in such a war as this is, without being any more brave and orderly, would be worth to the Government more than two of any other; and that, while the Government continues to refuse the aid of colored men, thus alienating them from the national cause, and giving the rebels the advantage of them, it will not deserve better fortunes than it has thus far experienced.--Men in earnest don't fight with one hand, when they might fight with two, and a man drowning would not refuse to be saved even by a colored hand.

(Foner, Volume 3, pages 151-154)"
http://www.frederickdouglass.org/speeches/

Most people who deny there were black confederate soldiers use the argument this was only a propaganda speech in order to convince the government of the United States to raise black Union troops. That very well may be true. Now since these "deniers" are always crying "show the documentation" we would like to see some documentation proving this was Douglass's intention. Since this website is a work in progress, I may find reference to each and every instance that Douglas mentions however, at this time, We can only offer this documentation to support Douglass's claims---

"Report of Cot. John W. Phelps, First Vermont Infantry.
CAMP BUTLER,
Newport News, Va., August 11, 1861.
SIR: Scouts from this post represent the enemy as having retired. They came to New Market Bridge on Wednesday, and left the next day. They- the enemy- talked of having 9,000 men. They were recalled by dispatches from Richmond. They had twenty pieces of artillery, among which was the Richmond Howitzer Battery, manned by negroes. Their wagons numbered sixty. Such is the information which our scouts gained from the people living on the ground where the enemy encamped. Their numbers are probably overrated but with regard to their artillery, and its being manned in part by negroes, I think the report is probably correct. If they did have 9,000 men, and have thus withdrawn, without effecting any other object than the burning of Hampton, their retiring may be looked upon as nearly allied to a defeat for the barbarous fierceness of spirit which they have exhibited in the destruction of Hampton, one of the oldest towns of Virginia, and which connects her history with a glorious past, cannot fail to injure their cause. It is an act which must inevitably meet with disapproval in all parts of the country, unless, indeed, the sentiments of liberality and generosity which are naturally inculcated by our free institutions
have become wholly extinguished.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. W. PHELPS,
Colonel, Commanding."

The above report is included in a section of the O.R. titled "The Burning of Hampton". ( Federal Official Records, Series 1, Volume 4, p.569)
After the Union reports are the Confederate reports. The first Confederate reports of the section states. "...I have had the whole country scoured to Hampton, and to within half a mile of the enemys camp at Newport News, and some 150 negroes
brought up, the males to work on the fortifications and the rest delivered to their masters." The second and last report (by the same officer) states. "...I have called out a large force of negroes, at considerable expense to the Government, to complete the fortifications upon which our troops have been so laboriously working. The troops can no longer do this work, and I respectfully request that the Quartermaster-General be directed to furnish to the assistant quartermaster-general of this department, Captain Bloomfield, the funds necessary for the payment of the laborers without delay, as a great many of them are free negroes, who have families, who must starve if they are not paid, and to all I promised
prompt payment. There are, perhaps, 1,000 now at work on the Peninsula...

I am, general, very respectfully, &c.,
J. BANKIIEAD MAGRUDER,
Brigadier- General, Commanding.

Col. GEORGE DEAS, Adjutant-General C. S. Army."

Considering the Union report of the type of guns the Confederates had..."eight guns; one rifled gun, two 32-pounder howitzers, tow long 24s, and three smaller guns." It is very plausible that the "Richmond Howitzer Battery, manned by negroes" was supplemented by the negroes gathered in theimmediate area to help emplace, move or construct temporary earthworks usually done with such large weapons, normally used as siege guns.

(Information provided by David Upton)

It is also possible they could have been armed and used in combat if needed. (GP)

The unit history of the Richmond Howitzer proves to us that this unit was at Manassas. The 1st Company left Richmond on May 24 to join the Confederate army near Manassas Junction and would never again serve with the other two companies. The men were present but not engaged at a skirmish at Blackburn's Ford on July 17 and the First Battle of Manassas on July 21.

http://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/Richmond_Howitzers

In the book "Contributions to A history of the Richmond Howitzers" I can only find one passage that mentions Black Confederates of this unit who saw combat.
This passage is found page 212, " A few of our Negro cooks who were with our wagon train when it was captured by the enemy, escaped and returned to camp today."



Ed Bearss a National Parks Historian is reported to have said---
"Black Confederates, why haven’t we heard more about them? “I don’t want to call it a conspiracy to ignore the role of the Blacks, both above and below the Mason-Dixon Line, but it was definitely a tendency that began around 1910”

Mr. Bearss flat out denies ever making this statement, that is fine, his remarks are not needed to prove the service of blacks in the Confederate Army. Some even believe this is absolute proof that few, if any, Negros served in Confederate ranks. Mr. Bearss is simply saying he did not make that statement.




The Confederate policy regarding Black soldiers--

For most people who deny the role of Blacks in the Confederacy, the official policy of the Confederate government coupled with Mr. Bearss's denial of his comment is absolute proof the number of Black Confederates was minimal. The Confederate policy for all intents and purposes did not allow for black Confederate units. This policy was in existence until nearly the end of the war. Even though this policy was changed, it did not allow for the emancipation of Black Confederate soldiers. Among other things, racism, prejudice, this turned out to be a huge constitutional issue for the Confederate government.

From: Appletons' annual cyclopaedia and register of important events ..., Volume 4 pages 216 -218

In the House on Nov. 10th the subject of the employment of slaves in the armies was discussed. The views in opposition to the measure are expressed in the following remarks of Mr. Chambers, of Mississippi. The measure was debated chiefly in secret session:

On motion of Mr. Chambers, of Mississippi, the special order was called up, which was the consideration of his resolution and those by Messrs. Schaun and Foote, all relating to the employment of negroes in the army. Mr. Chambers' resolution is as follows:

Betolted, That the valor, constancy, and endurance of our citizen soldiers, assisted by the steady corperation of all classes of our population not in the field, will continue a sufficient guaranty of the rights of the States, and of the independence of the Confederate States.

The following is Mr. Schaun's resolution: Resolved, That in the judgment of this House no exigency now exists, nor is likely to occur in the military affairs in the Confederate States, to justify the placing of negro slaves in the army as soldiers in the field. The resolutions offered by Mr. Foote embrace a series of propositions. The propositions assert that a general levy of the slaves for soldiers is unwise; that their withdrawal from labor would be inexpedient so long as we can otherwise obtain as large an army as wo can maintain; that if the alternative be presented of subjugation or their employment in the ranks, the latter should be preferred; that for the uses to which they are now applied, their ownership by the Government, with prospective emancipation by the consent of the States, as the reward of faithful service, would be expedient; that the number so employed should be increased to forty thousand; concluding with a resolution affirming that it was necessary to have the antecedent consent and sanction of the States to any attempt at conferring emancipation by the Confederate authorities.

The Speaker explained that the House had decided to take up and consider all these resolutions at the same time, as they referred to the same subject. Yet the House could only vote upon one at a time. The first one in order was that of Mr. Chambers. When that was considered and disposed of, that of Mr. Schaun would come up, and so on, each taking their turn. So the resolution of Mr. Chambers
coming up for consideration, that gentleman proceeded to express his views in its support. He said that the resolution offered by him only declared an abiding confidence in our citizen soldiery to maintain our cause, and that they needed no other assistance than they were receiving from all other classes cf our population. In other words, his resolution declared that they did not need the assistance
of negro troops. When the President proposed to put forty thousand negroes in the field—when the member from Tennessee favored it—when the member from South Carolina said he had not made up his mind about it—the question could no longer be evaded. It must be met.The question had been raised at the end of a campaign the most successful that had ever been vouchsafed to the Confederate arms. If our army was prostrated and our people threatened with subjugation—but he did not until then—he could, understand how such a proposition could be made. But why is the country agitated by it now, when the military horizon is bright and encouraging to us?

[Mr. Chambers here read from that portion of the President's Message reviewing the operations of the armies east and west of the Mississippi, to show that the President himself had presented a most hopeful view of the military prospects of the South.]

Continuing, Mr. Chambers said the whole matter hinged upon the simple question, "Are we approximating exhaustion?" he would lay it down as an undeniablo fact, that our army was as large to-day, compared with that of the enemy, as at any time during the war. Taking both sides of the Mississippi, he believed the two armies held the same ratio as they did at the beginning of the campaign. It was said by some that our army was diminished by death, by disease,
and by desertions, but it had not suffered as much from these causes as the Yankee army. He confessed that desertions in our army wero great, but not half so great as in the Yankee army. There were thousands of men at home, from the non-execution of the laws, who should be in the army. The President had said in his Macon speech, that two-thirds of the array were absent. This was the subject that should demand the attention of Congress, rather than to be made the plea for employing negroes as soldiers in our armies. The authorities must be made to know, that when laws are passed by Congress they must be enforced and obeyed. Unless Congress correct the system of furlough and enforce the laws we will not be
able to drive back the enemy. There are 250,000 men at home subject to military duty under the present law, and he could prove it by the papers upon his desk, if it did not consume too much time. Yet gentlemen say we are sinking, and appeal to African troops to save us! They appeal to them to come and help us to secure our independence. The President appeals to the sympathy of tho negro. He held out to him the promise of a home. But the Yankee said he would give him a home and the right of property. The President can offer him no motive which the enemy cannot easily counteract by offering him a higher one. To our offer of freedom they would offer freedom and a home in the South after our subjugation, as well as exemption
from military service meanwhile.How did gentlemen propose to fight negro troops?

He hoped they did not propose to commingle them with our brave white soldiers. How would they fight them? Not by regiments; not by brigades; not by corps; but by companies. Place the negroes in the front; put a company here and a company there, and all mutual rivalry is lost by the interposition of this timid material, our line wavers and is swept away. Mr. Chambers said he was ashamed to debate the question. All nature cries out against it. The negro was ordained to slavery by the Almighty. Emancipation would be the destruction of our social and political system. God forbid that this Trojan horse should be introduced among us. It is not
denied that the negro will fight, but will he fight well enough to resist the Yankee armies? The negro cannot be made a good soldier. The law of his race is against it.

Of great simplicity, of disposition tractable, prone to obedience, and highly imitative, he may be easily drilled; but timid, averse to effort, without ambition,he has no soldierly quality. Being adapted by nature to slavery, as he makes the best of slaves, he must needs make the worst of soldiers. He could recollect no instance in the war of '76 where negro troops were used in regular organization and regular battle, except the battalion of slaves which Lord Dunmore brought into the fight near Norfolk against the Virginia militia, and in that affair, we are told by the historian Botts, they "acted shabbily, and saved themselves by flight." When, in 1793, the English landed on the island of Saint Domingo they found it defended by over twenty thousand troops, chiefly mulattoes and negroes, but with less than one thousand men captured several important strongholds, and with less than two thousand finally seized upon Port au Prince, the capital of the island. The French authorities, in their extremity, offered freedom to the slaves—over four hundred thousand in number—on condition of military service for the occasion, in defence of their homes, as we would say, yet only six thousand availed themselves of the offer, although these slaves were still bloody from the insurrection of 1790. They preferred slavery to military service. So, in the beginning of this war, the negro escaped at every opportunity to our enemies, to avoid work; but since the system of negro conscription has been adopted by the United States Government he now remains with us, true to the instincts of his race. It is not slavery he desires to avoid; it is work in any form, but especially work in the form of dangerous service.

This Government possessed the war power originally possessed by all the people of the several States. With wise design they have delegated the whole, with little or no reservation. It is not too much to say that not the Czar of Russia —not even Peter the Great, whose despotism was restrained by no traditions and alarmed by no fears—could have brought into the field so promptly and thoroughly the entire war power of that despotism as this Government has elicited the war power of the several States in defence of the rights of the States.For this purpose the first gun at Fort Sumter moved them to arms; they will again fly to arms in the same sacred cause, whenever and by whomsoever menaced. When the last man shall have sunk in his tracks, when the last steed shall have fallen beneath his rider, and the last morsel of food shall have vanished from the land, then, and not till then, will the war power of this Government be exhausted.

Mr. Goode, of Virginia, said he was opposed to the employment of negroes as soldiers under any circumstances. He was opposed to it because it was a
confession of weakness to the enemy. He was opposed to it because he thonght it would end in abolition. He was opposed to it because it was degrading to our men. He believed that the right place for Cuffee was in the corn field.

At quarter-past two o'clock, on motion of Mr. Russell, of Virginia, the House went into secret session to consider a bill reported from the Judiciary Committee.
A bill to arm the slaves subsequently passed the House, but was lost in the Senate by one vote. The Legislature of Virginia instructed her Senators to vote for it. Whereupon it was reconsidered in the Senate in the following form:

A Bill to Increase the Military Forces of the Confederate States.

The Congress of the Confederate States of America do enact. That in order to provide additional forces to repel invasion, maintain the rightful possession of the Confederate States, secure their independence, and preserve their institutions, the President be and he is hereby authorized to ask for and accept from the owners
of slaves the services of such number of able-bodied negro men as he may deem expedient, for and during the war, to perform military service in whatever capacity he may direct.

Section 2. That the General-in-Chief be authorized to organize the said slaves into companies, battalions, regiments, and brigades, under such rules and regulations as the Secretary of War may prescribe, and to be commanded by such officers as the President may appoint.

Sec. 3. That while employed in the service the said troops shall receive the same rations, clothing, and compensation as are allowed to other troops in the same branch of the service.

Sec. 4. That if, under the previous section of this act, the President shall not be able to raise a sufficient number of troops to prosecute the war successfully and maintain the sovereignty of the States and the independence of the Confederate States, then he is hereby authorized to call on each State, whenever he thinks it expedient, for her quota of three hundred thousand troops, in addition to those subject to military service under existing laws, or so many thereof as the President may deem necessary, to bo raised from such classes of the population, irrespective of color, in each State, as the proper authorities thereof may determine.

Sec. 5. That nothing in this act shall be construed to authorize a change in the relation of the said Blaves. The Senate amended it as follows:
Provided, That not more than twenty-five per cent, of the male Blares between the ages of eighteen and forty-fire in any State shall be called for under the provisions of this act.

It was then passed and sent to the House, where the amendment was approved by the following vote:
Teas—Messrs. Anderson, Barksdale, Batson, Baylor, Blandford, Bradley, H. W. Bruce, Carroll, Clark, Clopton, Conrad, Darden, De Jarnette, Dickinson, Duprc, Elliott, Ewing, Funsten, Gaither, Goode, Grav, Hanler, Johnston, Keeble, Lyon, Machen, Marshall, McMullen, Me-\ees, Miller, Moore, Murray, Perkins, Read, Russell, Simpson, Snead, Staples, Triplett, and Villere—40.

Nays—Messrs. Atkins, Baldwin, Chambers, Colyar, Cruikshank, Fuller, Gholson, Gilmer, Hartridge, Hatcher, Herbert, Holliday, J. M. Leach, J. T. Leach, Logan, McCallum, Ramsay, Rogers, Sexton, J. M. Smith, Smith of- North Carolina, Turner, Wickham, Wilkes, Witherspoon, Mr. Speaker—26.

When the bill was on its passage in the Senate, after the instructions of the Virginia Legislature, Mr. Hunter of Virginia said: When we left the old Government we had thought we had gotten rid forever of the slavery agitation; that we were entering into a new Confederacy of homogeneous States where the agitation of the slavery question, which had become intolerable under the old Union, was to have no place. But to his surprise he finds that this Government assumes the power to arm the slaves, which involves also the power of emancipation. To the agitation of this question, the assumption of this power, he dated the origin of the gloom which now overspreads our people. They knew that if our liberties were to be achieved it was to bo done by the hearts and the hands of free men. It also injured us abroad. It was regarded as a confession of despair and an abandonment of the ground upon which we had seceded from the old Union. We had insisted that Congress had no right to interfere with slavery, and upon the coming into power of the party who, it was known, would assume and exercise that power, we seceded. We had also then
contended that whenever the two races were thrown together, one must be master and the other slave, and we vindicated ourselves against the accusations of Abolitionists by asserting that slavery was the best and happiest condition of the uegro. Now what does this proposition admit? The right of the central Government to put the slaves into the militia, and to emancipate at least so many as shall be placed in the military service. It is a clear claim of the central Government to emancipate the slaves.

If we are right in passing this measure we were wrong in denying to the old Government the right to interfere with the institution of slavery and to emancipate slaves. Besides, if we offer slaves their freedom as a boon we confess that we were insincere, were hypocritical, in asserting that slavery was the best state for the negroes themselves. He had been sincere in declaring that the central Government had no power over the institution of slavery, and that freedom would be no boon to the negro. He now believed, as he had formerly said in discussion on the same subject, that arming and emancipating the slaves was an abandonment of this contest—an abandonment of the grounds upon which it had been nndertaken. If this is so who is to answer for the hundreds of thousands of men who had been slain in the war Who was to answer for them before the bar of Heaven? Not these who had entered into the contest upon principle and adhered to the principle, but those who had abandoned the principle. Not for all the gold in California would he have put his name to such a measure as this unless obliged to do it by instructions. As long as he was free to vote from his own convictions nothing could have extorted it from him.

Mr. Hunter then argued the necessity of freeing the negroes if they were made soldiers. There was something in the human heart and head that tells us it must be so; when they come out scarred from this conflict they must be free. If we could make them soldiers, the condition of the soldier being socially equal to any other in society, we could make them officers, perhaps, to command white men. Some future ambitious President might nse the slaves to seize the liberties of the country, and put the white men under his feet. The Government had no power under the Constitution to arm and emancipate the slaves, and the Constitution granted no such great powers by implication.Mr. Hunter then showed from statistics that no considerable body of negro troops could be raised in the States over which the Government had control without stripping the country' of the labor absolutely necessary to produce food. He thought there was a much better chance of getting the largo number of deserters back to the army than of getting the slaves into it. The negro abhorred the profession of a soldier. The commandant of conscripts, with authority to impress twenty thousand slaves, had, between last September and the present time, been able to get but four thousand; and of these, thirty-five hnndred had been obtained in Virginia and North Carolina, and five hundred from Alabama. If he, armed with all the powers of impressment, could not get them as laborers, how will we be able to get them as soldiers? Unless they volunteer they will go to the Yankees; if we depend upon their volunteering we can't get them, and those we do get will desert to the enemy, who can offer them a better price than we can. The enemy can offer them liberty, clothing, and even farms at our expense. Negroes now were deterred from going to the enemy only by the fear of being put into the army. If we put them in they would all go over. In conclusion, he considered that the measure, when reviewed as to its expediency, was worse than as a question of principle.





Newspaper Articles --

Here is the another view from the telling of Davis's opposition to arming the slaves,which has nothing to do with race.

JEFF. DAVIS' MESSAGE; He Opposes the Theory, but Urges the Practice of Arming the Slaves. Rebel Currency and Foreign Intervention. Strong
Comments by the Richmond Papers.

PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE. SPIRIT OF THE MORNING PRESS.
Published: November 11, 1864

WASHINGTON, Thursday, Nov. 10.

The message of JEFF. DAVIS to the rebel Congress, which assembled on the 7th inst., has come to hand. He reviews the campaigns of the Federal Generals, and deduces the notable consolation, from his own statement of the facts, that the Federal successes have not been commensurate with the power put forth and the sacrifices incurred. In regard to rebel successes he is extremely reticent. It is plain, however, from the attention he gives to the subject of arming slaves, that the recruitment of the rebel army is an extremely urgent matter.

Mr. DAVIS opposes in general the arming of the negro slaves. He says he cannot see the propriety or necessity of arming the slaves while there are so many white men out of the ranks. He would only drill and arm such negroes as are already employed in the Quartermaster and Commissary Departments, &c., and fill the places of such by a draft of negroes from the planters. He would give only the reward of manumission to such slaves as shall have served efficiently with arms in the field. In regard to the rebel finances he says the currency has become so depreciated, that Congress must provide some remedy. The question of foreign recognition or aid is discussed, and DAVIS informs Congress there is absolutely
no hope of any help from abroad. He gives foreign nations a loud and lofty scolding for their lack of sympathy with the struggling Confederacy, and comforts the Confederacy with the assurance that the rebellion must rely solely upon its own resources.




President Davis's Decision

Jeff. Davis' Message The Great Question before the South.
Published: November 11, 1864

We have an abstract of JEFF. DAVIS' message to his Congress, which met in Richmond on the first secular day of this week. It discusses military and financial matters, and foreign relations, and also the great question which has recently been brought up in the Southern press, of arming the slaves to fight for the Slave Confederacy. Mr. DAVIS opposes in general, the idea of arming negro slaves,
but, after all, he practically favors their being armed; and, moreover, he would reward with the boon of freedom such slaves as shall serve efficiently with arms in the field.

This policy has been urged of late by some of the leading presses in JEFF. DAVIS' interest, and we get with the message the comments of the Richmond journals upon it. There appears to be considerable confusion among the editors, as to DAVIS' real meaning and purpose. The fact is, we suppose, that the rebel President was compelled to treat the whole subject with caution and duplicity. The proposition
is so startling in itself, and must, if carried out, have such a tremendous effect upon the whole structure of Southern society, and upon the Southern Confederacy, that it was impolitic to favor it in direct and general terms, while, on the other hand, the immediate military necessities of the rebels are such that he must invent some pretext for the introduction of slaves into his army; and this pretext he finds.
Some of the Richmond papers favor this negro-arming; others oppose it; and still others are dumbfounded with it. The Whig opposes it in toto. It characterizes the proposition as "startling" and "monstrous," and can hardly believe that JEFF. DAVIS really designed it. It remarks that it is a "concession that the Confederate Government has the power and right to exterminate slavery by the simple process of impressing or purchasing all slaves, and then emancipating them." "Lincoln," adds the Whig, "has never gone as far as this." The Whig also coughs at
DAVIS' idea of giving freedom to the slave as a reward for bravery in the field. This, it remarks, implies that freedom is better for the negro than slavery, and is thus a "repudiation of the opinion held by the whole South, and by a large portion of mankind in other countries, that servitude is a divinely-appointed condition for the highest good of the slave." "If," says the Whig, "the slave must fight, he should
fight for the blessings he enjoys as a slave" -- at which idea we, in our turn, must indulge in a cough. This question is really altogether the most important and practical one in DAVIS' message. It is the most important question now before the South, and one of the most important also to us, in its relations to the war and the future of the Southern Confederacy, DAVIS approaches it precisely as it was approached by the Northern people and Government -- very cautiously, very dubiously, very indirectly. But he is evidently reaching the same practical result as we reached two years ago. What the effect of the proposition, and of its carrying out, will be, in all its bearings, we confess the impossibility of forecasting or suggesting as yet. That there are in the South three or four hundred thousand able-bodied negro slaves whom the rebel despotism can impress into the military service, is certain. That negroes can be drilled and disciplined into excellent soldiers, our own experience proves. That the rebels could at the first, and for a time, bring them into action against our own troops, we see no reason to doubt, when we consider the character of military discipline. But we do very greatly doubt whether it would be possible to hold them in the rebel service for any considerable length of time. Wherever our armies have gone in the South, it has been found that the whole negro population was instinctively friendly to us. They aid and befriend our soldiers, whether in mass or singly, in every way and on every occasion possible. They all seem to know that the North is their friend, and that the success of Northern arms will inure to their benefit. We should think that this fact alone would make it impossible for JEFF. DAVIS to use them long as soldiers in fighting against us. Again, we think it altogether likely, that this proposition, or at least the attempt to give it effect, will inaugurate an irrepressible conflict between the rebel authorities and the body of the great slaveholders of the Confederacy. We doubt whether these men are yet prepared to see the institution of slavery totally and forever broken up in this way. We have had many illustrations in this war of the curious fact that many men are willing to risk their own safety or lives, and those of their families and friends, in a cause in which they are unwilling to risk or sacrifice their negro property -- or for that matter, any other property. This fact, indeed, may be observed daily in common life. It is not at all impossible that DAVIS' programme will meet with the determined opposition of the great planters, and in case he carries it out, with their determined resistance.








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