Research for a Military Writer
by Ann DeWitt
United States Statues at Large Volume 72, Part 1, Section 410 included each person who served in the military or naval forces of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War as eligible for United States pension effective December 31, 1957. What if you toiled, labored, and performed military duties under the command of a military officier to the best of your ability with an army or naval military unit during the Civil War, yet you and a select group of people were excluded by historians from being formally remembered as United States military veterans?
Without question, the Confederate Congress did not authorize African-Americans to officially enlist with Confederate States Army military units until General Orders No. 14 was issued on March 23, 1865. Also, the total number of African-Americans who served/served with the Confederate States Army (CSA) is unknown. Thus, the background research for an historical book titled Entangled In Freedom: A Civil War Story focused on finding any patterns within the CSA.
One pattern discovered is that there were Confederate States Army Officers who did indeed enlist African-Americans long before General Orders No. 14 on March 23, 1865. Through this research process, we teamed with people from around the world to define the terms "Black Confederate" and "Black Confederate Soldier." The definitions derived through research as well as collaboration are noted as follows:
A "Black Confederate" is an African-American who served/served with the Confederate States Army, Navy or Civil Service of the Confederate States of America or gave Material Aid to the Cause during the American Civil War (1861-1865).
A “Black Confederate Soldier” is (1) an enlisted African-American in the Confederate States Army, (2) an African-American acknowledged by Confederate Officer(s) as engaged in military service, and/or (3) an African-American approved by the Confederate Board of Pension Examiners to receive a Confederate Pension for military service during the American Civil War (1861-1865).
In the end, we created a website with live URL links to primary and secondary sources about African-Americans who served in various military capacities with the Confederate States Army. As an example, to see the current compiled list of African-Americans whose names appear on Confederate Soldier Service Records, visit: http://www.blackconfederatesoldiers.com/soldier_records_for_black_confederates_50.html
Names and pertinent data are added frequently to the website. Albert Einstein once said, "If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?" So, the website gets better each day. If you would like to contribute to the content, email info at blackconfederatesoldiers.com.
Bottom line, these men and women who served/served with the Confederate States Army will not be forgotten and during my lifetime will formally be acknowledged as United States Veterans with the others who were included as of December 31, 1957.
Highlighting the Good in Humanity,
Ann DeWitt and Kevin M. Weeks
Recipients of the prestigious Mom’s Choice Awards
for Young Adult Historical Fiction