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17thfabn
Ohio OH USA
Posts: 135
Joined: 2008
Slaves as a force multiplier
11/27/2020 9:42:02 PM
Often in order of battles for various Civil War Battles the Union forces appear to have a sizable advantage.

But in a typical battle how many of those Federal troops would be in support roles that on the Confederate side would be performed by slaves?

Latter in the war as slaves were liberated how often were former slaves employed by the Union Army as support personnel?
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Withdrawal in disgust is not the same as apathy.
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 4933
Joined: 2004
Slaves as a force multiplier
11/28/2020 6:14:44 AM
What an interesting question !

The impression I get is that, by and large, the figures for numbers engaged, or " effectives" - call them what you will - are reasonably consistent and can be relied upon, although there are obviously some very contentious statistics, especially about Antietam.

There must have been significant contingents of black labourers and servants accompanying both armies.

I would have thought that the confederates might have been distinctly uneasy about large cohorts of slaves being on parade when campaigns were in full swing. A kind of security risk ? Plus the fact that owners would be unwilling to relinquish property, especially if this entailed losing domestic labour.

The comments of Lee and other southern commanders give ample evidence of how their starving soldiers were struggling to dig earthworks in the final phase of the war. Had black labour been deployed, then the rebel soldiers would have been spared these duties and the desperate fatigue they entailed.

OTOH, I am aware that we might easily underrate how important an attribute was the participation of blacks - free or enslaved .

One of the most remarkable anecdotes I've read in this regard concerns the mining operations in the siege of Vicksburg, when a confederate engineer was attempting to counter the yankee miners by constructing counter mines ( camouflet?) , and black tunnellers were being used in this most dangerous and intricate military activity. Only men of reliability and skill would be deployed for such work.

Regards, Phil
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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
17thfabn
Ohio OH USA
Posts: 135
Joined: 2008
Slaves as a force multiplier
11/28/2020 7:35:56 PM
Quote:
.

One of the most remarkable anecdotes I've read in this regard concerns the mining operations in the siege of Vicksburg, when a confederate engineer was attempting to counter the yankee miners by constructing counter mines ( camouflet?) , and black tunnellers were being used in this most dangerous and intricate military activity. Only men of reliability and skill would be deployed for such work.

Regards, Phil


Or the may have used the slaves because they considered them expendable.
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Withdrawal in disgust is not the same as apathy.
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 4933
Joined: 2004
Slaves as a force multiplier
11/29/2020 3:49:25 AM
Quote:
Quote:
.

One of the most remarkable anecdotes I've read in this regard concerns the mining operations in the siege of Vicksburg, when a confederate engineer was attempting to counter the yankee miners by constructing counter mines ( camouflet?) , and black tunnellers were being used in this most dangerous and intricate military activity. Only men of reliability and skill would be deployed for such work.

Regards, Phil


Or the may have used the slaves because they considered them expendable.



Yes, of course, there is that aspect to consider.

So much depends on how we choose to interpret the facts.

To my mind, tunnelling in mine warfare entails teamwork and mutual trust in frightening circumstances : something that flourishes under consent rather than coercion. Maybe the black man in question was one of the people described as “ Free Colored” in the 1860 census. I need to look into this story. It might well be that I’m putting the wrong gloss on it.

If memory serves me, the engineering officer who served on Pemberton’s staff at Vicksburg was a northerner - as was Pemberton himself . He later served in Lee’s army and helped construct the works at Spotsylvania in May 1864. Might it be that his yankee provenance endowed him with a different attitude regarding use of black labour in the front line ?

This really is a challenging thing to investigate, especially with prevailing attitudes , in which academic research into questions of race and gender is hampered by the influence and insistence of Political Correctness and the Woke.

Editing : the name of the CSA engineering officer was Martin Luther Smith......how ironic !

Regards, Phil
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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

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