ROBERT A. CALVERT, Editor
The Gray and the Black: The Confederate Debate on Emancipation. By
Robert F. Durden. (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University, 1972.
Pp. xi+ 305. Index. $1095.)
The controversy within the southern Confederacy over the issue of using
slaves as soldiers has been the subject of interest among Civil War scholars
since Nathaniel W. Stephenson's pioneer article "The Question of Arming
the Slaves" appeared in the American Historical Review in 1913. Thomas
R. Hay and Charles H. Wesley both wrote scholarly articles on the issue in
1919, and Bell Wiley touched on the subject in his Southern Negroes, i86i-
1865 (New Haven, 1938). More recently James M. McPherson briefly
discussed the issue in The Negro's Civil War. For the first time, however,
Robert F. Durden of Duke University has presented a full-scale monograph
dealing with the subject.
Durden approaches the subject by allowing contemporaries to do most
of the speaking (a technique similar to that used by McPherson). Through
extracts from diaries, journals, speeches, newspaper articles, and letters, Dur-
den shows the gradual evolution of opinion within the South not only to
use blacks as soldiers but also to emancipate those slaves who served in the
Confederate military. Interestingly, the first calls for emancipation came
from newspaper editors in the states of the deep South: Mississippi, Ala-
bama, and Louisiana. Opposition at first came from military and political
leaders, most Richmond newspapers, and from many southern civilians.
The Galveston Tri-Weekly News, the only Texas paper quoted in Durden's
book, strongly opposed the action.
Major General Pat Cleburne was the first senior military leader to es-
pouse the idea of freeing and arming the slaves. In a January 1864 letter to
fellow officers in the Army of Tennessee, Cleburne argued that the use of
black troops could turn the tide of battle for the Confederacy. President
Davis himself endorsed emancipation for black Confederate soldiers in his
November 7, I864, message to Congress, and worked diligently for passage
of legislation to secure black troops. General Lee publicly supported the
move in letters of February, 1865. Even so, opposition to emancipation con-
tinued, and only a watered-down bill passed the Confederate Congress in
the dying days of the war.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 77, July 1973 - April, 1974. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117148/. Accessed August 3, 2015.