December 28, 1860: Free Colored Louisianans volunteer to fight

A letter reprinted in the Daily Constitutionalist [AUGUSTA, GA], January 11, 1861:

From the N. O. Delta, Dec. 28th.
The Free Colored Natives of Louisiana.

A very improper and unjust feeling is sometimes manifested towards a class of our population who have always demeaned themselves with patriotism and true devotion to their native State. We refer to our free colored population, who are not unfrequently and very thoughtlessly confounded with the free negroes who come to this city from the North and form a class of people who require watching. The native free colored people of Louisiana have never given grounds for any suspicion, or distrust, and they have frequently manifested their fidelity in a manner quite as striking and earnest as the white citizens. The following extract from a letter signed by a number of this class of our people, commends itself to our warm approval and sympathy, and we willingly give it a place in our columns, and will respond very cheerfully to the demand it makes upon our sense of justice and duty:

There are certain persons who are disposed to believe and to make others believe—and some will do so from ignorance or mischief—that the free colored population (native) of Louisiana are not well disposed toward here, but this is not so; they love their home, their property, they own slaves, and they are dearly attached to their native land, and they recognise no other country than Louisiana, and care for no other than Louisiana, and they are ready to shed their blood for her defense. They have no sympathy for Abolitionism; no love for the North, but they have plenty for Louisiana; and let the hour come, and they will be worthy sons of Louisiana. They will fight for her in 1861 as they fought in 1814/’15. As you have always done them justice, they will ask you the favor of defending them in this case. If they have made no demonstration yet, it is because they have no right to meddle with politics, but not because they are well disposed. All they ask is to have a chance, and they will be worthy sons of Louisiana. Please give them a little article from your vigorous pen, and remember in all coming time, they trust in your generous and kind heart.

A Large Number of Them.

There were in fact a few free black soldiers from Louisiana who served the Confederacy, but in “home guard” units that were not part of the official army. For the most part, though, blacks served the confederacy as slaves, not soldiers. Claims that there were large numbers of “Black Confederates” are recent, and not well supported by historical evidence. Historian Kevin Levin has an excellent blog with good information and resources related to this topic. This video of historian Bruce Levine sums up the issue well.

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