After yesterday’s post, I started thinking about possibilities… like turning a cube around and considering all of the angles, I think I may have found one that has yet to be considered (please let me know if it has been considered in another blog, book, magazine article, etc).
For these African-Americans who received pensions as soldiers (not as body servants, etc.), what if this was the result of white soldiers giving the blacks (the ones who REALLY served as soldiers), the credit that they could not give them at the time of the war? For example, Levi Miller, as the story goes, was voted into the 5th Texas by unanimous vote by the soldiers AND he is documented as having fought. Yet, he doesn’t appear in the muster rolls.
My thought is that he doesn’t appear in the muster rolls for good reason… the Confederate government did not permit blacks to enlist as soldiers. They could be cooks, body servants, etc., but until late in the war, the option wasn’t there. Miller was voted-in as a regular member of his unit earlier in the war, he was acknowledged by the white soldiers, but he was not acknowledged by the government as a full-fledged soldier. He could not be recognized by the government, on the muster rolls, as it wasn’t allowed.
It’s interesting, but this thought brings up something else. I think it lends something to the “rich man’s war, poor man’s fight” argument. Obviously, as in even modern cases of people in the military, the soldier does not believe in everything about his government. He may fight, but that doesn’t mean he agrees with the government or all of its positions. The soldier’s reasons for fighting are not necessarily those of the government (I have to say something really scholarly and intelligent here… that being… “duh!”)
When it comes to the Confederate government’s positions on blacks, this could make for some interesting discussions. For starters, what implications would this have on the manner in which modern Confederate Remembrance is conducted? I’ve posed the question before… as descendants, we can honor the soldier, but that doesn’t mean that we have to honor the government.. After all, the soldier, even the fighting soldier, had problems with decisions and actions of the government… just look at the reaction of Confederate soldiers to the 20 slaves exemption! (part of Mark Weitz’s book A Higher Duty, examines this on this page.)