Historian and Author Tom Perry's thoughts on history and anything that comes to mind.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Black Confederates Part Two Free People

Patrick County’s population, according to the 1860 Census of the United States, was just over 9,300 people. Of these, twenty-two percent were slaves and one percent were "free persons of color." There were two hundred fewer people in the county than in 1850 and less than three hundred people lived in the county seat of Taylorsville, but better known as Patrick Court House.

The life of free Blacks and slaves in Patrick County during the war included tight control and forced service to the South. A law passed in 1793 required all “Free Negroes” to register at their local courthouse every three years and purchase a certificate at a cost of twenty-five cents. The law required them to give their name, age, color (mulatto or black), status, to report what court had emancipated them and made it illegal to employ a free person without the above certificate. In June 1861, four free black women Hannah Going, Ruth Going, Jennie Johnson, and Rachel Johnson registered at Taylorsville, now Stuart, Virginia.

Five hundred thousand “free people of color” lived in the entire nation in 1860, and a quarter million lived in the South. Virginia’s free black population reached nearly sixty thousand. One hundred and thirty-one called Patrick County home in 1860. Between 1820 and 1860, never more than 140 “free people of color” lived in Patrick County. As blacksmiths, wagoners, wheelwrights, farmers and laborers, these “free people” made up a productive part of the population, though only five owned real estate. Always suspected of being runaway slaves, they lived under a harsh set of rules that forbade them entry into certain professions and even prevented selling agricultural products without a license.

The Virginia General Assembly passed a law on February 12, 1863, calling for the “enrollment and employment of free Negroes” in the war effort. On September 29, 1863, Confederate authorities conscripted James or Jarvus Beaver, Alis Fenly, Josephus Givny, Soloman Johnson, Edward Loggin, Jackson Loggin, Samuel Nelson, Governor Phillips, Peter Rickman, Harrison Steward, Henry Steward, Salie Stuart, Granville Stuart, William H. Travis and John Vaughan into service. This service was for laborers, not soldiers.

Records exist relating to several of these people. Governor Phillips stood five foot ten inches tall with black eyes, black hair, and black complexion. On July 1, 1864, he reported to Lieutenant Poole under the direction of the Confederate Quartermaster Department commanded by I. H. Lacy at New Bern in Pulaski County, Virginia. Granville Stewart, Josephus Goins, William Harris, James M. Hickman, Soloman Johnson, and Jacob Lac reported to New Bern also. These men enrolled from several counties, but all were born in Patrick County.

With this second post about “Black Confederates,” I am trying to bring out the facts that history based on evidence is what a historian does. These are the facts, not based on the emotions of the descendants of slave or free people of African descent or ideas about loyalty from these same ancestors to a people and system that enslaved them. The history of the War Between the States, the Civil War or whatever you choose to call it is not “Moonlight and Magnolia” of Gone With The Wind. It is many times harsha, but it always involves about people who tried to survive and do the best they could for their families. Real history is not playing dress up, but in the records and recorded memories of those who participated. It is not a pretty history, but it is our history, good and bad.

No comments:

Post a Comment