The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 61, July 1957 - April, 1958 Page: 420
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Negro militia, the significance of which stemmed more from its
racial than its military character.
Congressional Radicals carried out their Reconstruction pro-
gram through satellite governments buttressed by federal bayo-
nets. When the Southern States accepted the Radical terms and
federal troops were withdrawn, the Radicals' gubernatorial hench-
men were left in a precarious position. Frantically they urged
Congress to authorize the organization of "loyal" militias to fill
the power vacuum. When Congress complied, several governors
(there were notable exceptions) hastily organized militias which,
although legally open to both races, were composed largely of
These Negro militias were in reality the military arm of the
Republican party in the South. The Radical governors treated
them as private armies and used them to sustain their shaky
regimes against both conservative and rival Radical aspirants for
power. Ubiquitous militiamen played conspicuous (if somewhat
ludicrous) roles in the Brooks-Baxter intra-party "war" in Ar-
kansas, the Kellogg-McEnery imbroglio in Louisiana, the cam-
paign riots in Mississippi and South Carolina, and the Davis-
Coke struggle for the Texas statehouse. The willingness of Negroes
to serve on both sides in the Brooks-Baxter fiasco eliminated them
as a political factor in Arkansas and dealt a fatal blow to the
Republican party in that state. Incongruously, ex-Confederate
officers sometimes commanded the Negro troops. A swashbuckling
veteran of Morgan's raiders led the Baxter forces in Arkansas
and General James Longstreet, Lee's scapegoat at Gettysburg,
braved ostracism to lead the Louisiana militia.
Lured by the trappings, social life, and prestige of militia
service, Negroes enthusiastically volunteered at first, but the usual
discomforts of military life and fierce retaliations by conserva-
tives (including economic pressure) quickly sapped their morale,
encouraged desertions, and destroyed all semblance of discipline.
Atrocity stories in the conservative press were grossly exaggerated,
but the militia's crimes-ranging from petty social annoyances to
murder and rape-were numerous enough to cause alarm.
It is surprising that the Negro militias were no worse. The at-
tempt to weld ex-slaves into an efficient fighting force was naively
optimistic. But the weaknesses of the militia lay in the inherent
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 61, July 1957 - April, 1958, periodical, 1958; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101164/m1/502/: accessed July 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.