Saturday, August 2, 2008

Armed Black Confederates in Tennessee

Report by Lt. Col. Parkhurst, Ninth Michigan Infantry:

"The forces attacking my camp were the First Regiment Texas Rangers, Colonel Wharton, and a battalion of the First Georgia Rangers, Colonel Morrison, and a large number of citizens of Rutherford County, many of whom had recently taken the oath of allegiance to the United States Government. There were also many negroes attached to the Texas and Georgia troops, who were armed and equipped, and took part in the several engagements with my forces during the day."

Federal Official Records
, Series I, Vol XVI Part I, "Lt. Col. Parkhurst's Report (Ninth Michigan Infantry) on General Forrest's attack at Murfreesboro, Tenn, July 13, 1862: pg. 805."

I like this one, not so much for armed Black men being cited in the official records- as cool as that is- but more so because the residents of the county joined in the fight, even after the Union coerced an oath of allegiance from them.

I'm glad Lt. Col. Parkhurst's personal experience confirms the fact that African Americans took up arms against the North, but I don't want my use of his quote to trivialize his role. Parkhurst was taken prisoner at Murfreesboro and spent three months in a Southern POW camp. Civil War POW camps were not nice places. He was fortunate to have survived this experience. After the war he was appointed as U.S. envoy to Belgium. Like all veterans of this war, especially POWs, his memory should be honored as well.

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