On March 23, 1865, after a period of intense debate, the Confederate States of America embarked on a plan to enlist slaves into their armies. This is the first of a series of posts which will examine that event.
First up is Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s important letter of January 1865, in which he advocates for slave enlistment.
Confederate general Robert E. Lee: “I think, therefore, we must decide whether slavery shall be extinguished by our enemies and the slaves be used against us, or use them ourselves.”
Source: Image of Robert E. Lee; Julian Vannerson, photographer; from Wikipedia Commons; from an image at the Library of Congress, reproduction numbers LC-DIG-cwpb-04402, LC-B8172-0001
Desperate times require desperate measures. And in January of 1865, Robert E. Lee, the general in chief of the Confederate States of America, was desperate.
The Confederates were losing the bloody American Civil War against the United States, AKA the Union. By January 1865, the Union controlled the Mississippi River and large swaths of land to the river’s east and west; the December 1864 Battle of Nashville had beaten the largest remaining Confederate forces west of the Appalachian Mountains; Union General William Sherman had completed his almost unimpeded march through Georgia, and was heading for South…
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