Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Rascally recruit

I've been enjoying the Richmond Dispatch online. Here is an interesting article about a Black man who volunteered and then left his position.

A Rascally recruit. In our notice, a few days since, of the progress of enlistment among the negro troops, we mentioned the fact that a free negro had volunteered under Lieutenant Bossieux, alleging, at the time he did so, that he had been robbed by the Yankees of a canal boat, which he had earned by hard labor, and was determined to battle for the cause of the South till every one of the invaders was driven from the soil of the State. Since that time, the rascal has deserted his colors, taking with him a large lot of clothing, shoes, &c., which did not belong to him. - The Daily Dispatch (Richmond): March 29, 1865

First of all, he probably wasn't welcomed into the fold as a token African American. Second, this points to the fact that there were a variety of reasons someone would want to repel federal forces. And three, I've seen a number of stories like this, but rather than finding a uniquely Southern cruelty to explain Black and White AWOLs, it would be more accurate to say that'this is what happens when you put very poor, rural people in a military environment (not that the Southern army was all that regimented in the first place).

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