February 2015 Documents of the Month

















One of the most important and extensive public debates during the life of the Confederacy came to a head in February 1865: should the Confederacy enlist and arm enslaved African-Americans to serve as soldiers? Politicians, military leaders, and newspaper editors had raised this question publicly or privately during the preceding years, but it became a momentous public debate only after President Jefferson Davis floated a trial balloon in November 1864.

The two printed documents featured here offered divergent answers to the question. A group of Kentucky soldiers endorsed the proposal; the North Carolina legislature opposed it. The Army encouraged soldiers to pass resolutions supporting the arming of slaves, but many soldiers expressed their opposition in private letters.

In early March, the Confederate Congress passed by a narrow margin “An Act to increase the military force of the Confederate States” and the Army’s Adjutant General on March 23rd issued a general order implementing the act.  A few companies – at most – of Confederate colored troops had been organized when the war ended a few months later.

View the documents in greater detail here. 

If you are interested in learning more about these documents or other items in our collection, please visit our Archives page.

Please also visit our Artifact of the Month page.

Document of the Month Archives

Click on the images or links below to learn more about past Documents of the Month.


January 2015

December 2014


November 2014

October 2014

September 2014


August 2014

July 2014

June 2014

May 2014

April 2014

March 2014

February 2014

January 2014

December 2013

November 2013

October 2013

September 2013


August 2013

July 2013

June 2013

May 2013

April 2013

March 2013

February 2013

January 2013

December 2012

Jackson Letter   Transcription

Livingston Letter   Transcription


Booker 1862 Booker 1863

Letter Descriptions

November 2012

October 2012

September 2012

August 2012

July 2012

June 2012

Document   Explanation/Transcription

May 2012

April 2012

March 2012