March 18, 1865: Recruiting black Confederates

First charge of "Black Confederates"

The Richmond Daily Dispatch publishes a call for black “volunteers” to fight for the Confederacy. The message is addressed to “the People of Virginia,” but it is clearly intended for the white people of Virginia, as it calls on those who have sent their family members not to withhold their “servants”. It also displays a touching self-delusion: “…this class of our population having given repeated evidence of their willingness to take up arms in the defence of their homes, it is believed that it is only necessary to put the matter before them in a proper light to cause them to rally with enthusiasm for the preservation of the homes in which they have been born and raised, and in which they have found contentment and happiness…”

Most days the paper also runs ads offering rewards for the return of runaways.


Colored troops.
An Appeal to the People of Virginia.

It will be seen by the Order of the Secretary of War, published above, that the undersigned have been authorized to proceed at once with the organization of Companies composed of persons of Color, free and slave, who are willing to volunteer under the recent acts of Congress and the Legislature of Virginia. It is well known to the country that Gen. Lee has evinced the deepest interest on this subject, and that he regards prompt action in this matter, as vitally important to the country. In a letter addressed by him to Lt. Gen. Ewell, dated March10th, he says, “I hope it will be found practicable to raise a considerable force in Richmond. I attach great importance to the result of the first experiment, and nothing should be left undone to make it successful. The sooner this can be accomplished the better.”

The undersigned have established a rendezvous on 21st, between Main and Cary streets, at the building known as “Smith’s Factory;” and every arrangement has been made to secure the comfort of the new recruits, and to prepare them for service. It is recommended that each recruit be furnished, when practicable, with a grey jacket and pants, cap and blanket, and a good serviceable pair of shoes, but no delay should take place in forwarding the recruits in order to obtain these articles.

The governments, Confederate and State, having settled the policy of employing this element of strength, and this class of our population having given repeated evidence of their willingness to take up arms in the defence of their homes, it is believed that it is only necessary to put the matter before them in a proper light to cause them to rally with enthusiasm for the preservation of the homes in which they have been born and raised, and in which they have found contentment and happiness; and to save themselves and their race from the barbarous cruelty invariably practised upon them by a perfidious enemy claiming to be their friends.

Will not the people of Virginia, in this hour of peril and danger, promptly respond to the call of our loved General-in-Chief, and the demands of the Confederate and State governments?

Will those who have freely given their sons and brothers, their money and their property, to the achievement of the liberties of their country, now hold back from the cause their servants, who can well be spared, and who will gladly aid in bringing this fearful war to a speedy and glorious termination !

Let every man in the State consider himself a recruiting officer, and enter at once upon the duty of aiding in the organization of this force, by sending forward recruits to this rendezvous.

Every consideration of patriotism, the independence of our country, the safety of our homes, the happiness of our families, and the sanctity of our firesides, all prompt to immediate and energetic action for the defence of the country. Let the people but be true to themselves, and to the claims of duty, and our independence will be speedily secured, and peace be restored within our borders.

J. W. Pegram,
Maj. P. A. C. S.
Th. P. Turner,
Maj. P. A. C. S.

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