Were there black Confederates? I dunno. I don't care, either. At least, not in the sense that those involved in the Big Controversy About Black Confederates care about it.
My personal view? I think that anyone who fought for the Confederacy -- red or yellow, black or white -- whether as duly signed-up soldiers or not, should be honored and their service acknowledged. So they weren't on some official muster roll and they weren't handed a uniform and soldierly accouterments. So? What interests me is... did they pick up a gun and shoot at yankees? Then they need to be commemorated.
And not just the ones who fought, but the wives and families, the servants, the farmers and merchants, the teachers, preachers, elected officials... all who supported the new nation and its fight for independence.
When the No-They-Didn't folks cite the Confederate government's barring blacks from service as PROOF that there were no blacks fighting for the Confederacy, I have to laugh.
Do you suppose these folks also seriously believe that nobody drank alcohol during Prohibition -- because the government barred drinking alcohol?
What gets me is that so many of these No-They-Didn't folks are -- or claim to be -- intellectuals and academics. You'd think they'd know better. Oh, wait. Intellectuals... and academics... Never mind.
But what's actually fueling this controversy is not the B word (black) or the C word (Confederate). It's the S word. Slavery.
In a historical context, at least, Confederacy-bashers think of "black" and "slave" as synonyms. Thus, all blacks in the South were slaves, and it is unthinkable to them that blacks/slaves would "fight to perpetuate their own enslavement," as one of them put it For you see, slavery was the ONLY THING the Confederates were fighting for, so any blacks fighting for the Confederacy would be fighting for their own enslavement.
That's how they see it. They can't see it any other way.
Well, they probably could. But they WON'T.
This is why, bloggers at websites like this (http://transgriot.blogspot.com/2009/06/civil-war-was-about-slavery.html and http://transgriot.blogspot.com/2011/06/pimp-slapping-black-confederate-soldier.html) truncate the secession documents to leave out all the OTHER reasons the states cited for seceding. It has to be all-slavery, only-slavery, or they blow a gasket.
For example, Transgriot posts 136 words of Mississippi's 708 word secession document. She posts 60 words of Georgia's 3300-word secession document. Why did she leave out so much? Because they were about things she wasn't interested in? If Mississippians and Georgians didn't care about what she left out, why did they include them? If what she cut out was important enough to Mississippians and Georgians that they LISTED THEM among their CAUSES FOR SECEDING, why did Transgriot leave them out?
Yes, dear reader, that IS a rhetorical question. We KNOW why she left them out.
Once Confederacy-bashers like this see what they're looking for -- the S word -- they QUIT READING. They don't want to know the rest of the story. They don't even want to acknowledge that there IS a rest-of-the-story.
Well, there is. I have already examined Mississippi's Secession Declaration to explain it to a "journalist" here: http://one80dts.blogspot.com/2011/03/backsassin-yet-another-journalist.html
The Yes-They-Did folks seem levelheaded and motivated mostly by (1) a desire to acknowledge these men and their contribution and (2) historical accuracy, while the No-They-Didn't folks get plumb apoplectic in their denial. For me, that says a lot about the quality of the substantiation each waves before the public.
The no-folks claim that yes-folks (frequently slandered as "Confederacy worshippers" and "historical revisionists" and "slavery apologists") are attempting to "legitimize" the Confederacy by taking away the idea that the South fought to perpetuate slavery, because, as we have noted, it is unthinkable that blacks/slaves would "fight to perpetuate their own enslavement." So, if blacks fought for the South, the South couldn't have been fighting to maintain slavery.
However, that this is an accurate description of the yes-folks' motive is a bunch of baloney, as far as I'm concerned..
Now, it's true that, over the years, I've run into a few people who claim, "The war had nothing to do with slavery! It was about..." states rights, or the tariff, or whatever. Well, it was "about" all those things, including slavery, and more. However, when someone makes the distinction (as I do) that the secession of the Deep South states was over slavery and other things, but the shooting started for another reason, that is frequently characterized as saying, "The war had nothing to do with slavery...." It's dishonest, of course, and the people doing it know it is.
The reason it is so important to the anti-Confederate folks to tie the Southern cause forever to slavery, and only slavery, is their faith that slavery delegitimizes the South's struggle for independence.
The reason for demonizing the Confederacy this way is to take the focus off the sins of the United States.
Whatever claim of moral superiority the north/union/United States had/has over the South because some of its states abolished slavery when it became unprofitable, that moral authority was obliterated by northern industry's accumulation of wealth processing slave-grown cotton in its textile mills and its maritime interests' accumulation of wealth shipping slave-grown cotton to Europe.
The north's moral superiority vanishes when you realize that the Confederacy had legalized slavery for four years, and the United States for 80 years -- including eight months AFTER the Confederacy ceased to exist.
The north's moral superiority vanishes when you realize that while the union army making war on the South, slaves were helping to build the U .S. Capitol in Washington D.C.
The north's moral superiority was obliterated by the military invasion of the Southern states, the barbarity with which the Union Army made war and the economic enslavement of the Southern people, black and white, for generations after the war, with purposely created poverty.
The claim of U.S. moral superiority was obliterated by the U.S. government's official policy of genocide of the Plains Indians; by herding native Americans onto reservations in conditions worse than slavery; by the internment of Japanese Americans in WWII; by the Tuskegee Syphilis experiments; by the CIA's torture and murder in Central America; by the U.S. military's herbicidal warfare program against Vietnamese civilians, and on and on and on.
The South was fighting for its political independence motivated by more than preserving its slave-based economy, but even if that had been its only motivator -- and whether or not blacks fought for the South -- the Confederacy's struggle for independence from Washington, D.C. was as legitimate as the colonies' struggle for independence from the British crown.