Patrick Cleburne was the Steve Schmidt of his day--well sort of. Above is a trailer for a graphic novel which tells the story of Cleburne trying to convince the archons of the Confederacy that slavery was a military weakness, and the only way to truly defeat the North was to emancipate large numbers of slaves and make them into soldiers. My sense is that, like Schimdt's urging the GOP to embrace gay marriage, this was a pipe-dream. --a very visionary one, but a pipe-dream nonetheless.
Maybe it wasn't one at the start of the War, but by the time Cleburne pitched it (1864), it was just too late. Still, in early 1865, Robert E. Lee and Jeff Davis gave their ascent, and a small regiment was raised, if we can even call it that. This was a few months before Appamottax and CSCT didn't see a lick of action.
I just finished a chapter in Levine's book when he talks about how the slaves, themselves, forced the Confederates to reconsider their own position. I want to preface all of that by giving some idea of the kind of psychological pretzels these guys were twisting themselves into. They basically had conflicting stereotypes of black people--they thought they were cowards who were happily enslaved, faultlessly loyal to their masters, and yet in need of constant armed vigilance.
The upshot was you'd have the following sort of thinking:
Black people are happiest as our slaves--so happy that they have to be guarded by heavily armed white men at all times.
The African slave is, by nature, cowardly--so cowardly that he routinely leaps in front of Yankee bullets to save his master.
At one point in the debate you have people actually arguing that blacks will fight for the Confederacy with no promise of freedom and to preserve slavery. Today we call these people "conversion therapists." Lee, in his defense, sees this as utter madness. Of course blacks want to be free, and arming them without giving them that freedom is, as he put it, "neither smart nor just."
This is 1865, though, much, much too late. The problem is the South
only became convinced that blacks would fight after actually seeing
them do it--repeatedly. And so by 1864 you have the same old suspects
asserting that blacks won't fight. But you have others in the South
saying, "Well hell, they're fighting for the Yankees, ain't they?"
Blacks had been fighting for Union, unofficially in Kansas since the
onset of the war (It's worth reading about Island Mound and John Six
Killer. Talk about a great name) and officially for over a year. And
then there were the ex-slaves working as spies, or who'd simply been
freed. I think, at the onset, some free blacks would have fought on the
basis of Southern nationalism. But by the end, they
knew where they stood.
Moreover, there's a logistical question as to whether blacks could have ever fought for the South in the numbers that they did for North. Consider that 200,000 black men fought for the Union. During the siege of Petersburg, something like one out of every six soldiers there was black. There are questions as to whether the Southern economy could have withstood the loss of slave labor, whether white soldiers would have fought next to them, and whether there'd even be any secession at all, if it began with the promise of emancipation.
Equally interesting, to me, is the parallel in slave-master psychology and the psychology of those who claim to want to protect "traditional" marriage. It's like
Gays are sinful dirtbags--so much so that they want to pledge to be monogamous.
Heh. It's so backwards. In that limited sense, I think seeing actual gays in actual marriages is a lot like seeing the USCT regiments coming over the hills. It's mind-fuck to watch all your sainted and evil caricatures transform into actual people. With guns. Or wedding rings.
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