Remember that Virginia fourth grade textbook that claimed that thousands of African-Americans fought as soldiers for the Confederacy? And the critics raved! (from WaPo):
Historians from across the country, however, said the sentence about Confederate soldiers was wrong or, at the least, overdrawn. They expressed concerns not only over its accuracy but over the implications of publishing an assertion so closely linked to revisionist Confederate history.But ... no evidence? No problem. On the right you'll see an alleged photograph of troops of the 1st Louisiana Native Guard. Now this is indeed a remarkable thing, because until this, ah, "evidence" (?) emerged, there were no known photographs of any troops associated with this unit, which existed for a brief time in New Orleans for parade duties only and was composed of various free persons of color. For some reason, never quite explained to my satisfaction, it was actually possible to raise such a regiment.
"It's more than just an arcane, off-the-wall problem," said David Blight, a professor at Yale University. "This isn't just about the legitimacy of the Confederacy, it's about the legitimacy of the emancipation itself."
Pulitzer Prize-winning historian James McPherson of Princeton University said, "These Confederate heritage groups have been making this claim for years as a way of purging their cause of its association with slavery."
Let's have a look at some of the provenance of this photograph below the Squiggle of Doom.
But first a few facts.
1. The 1st Louisiana Native Guard Regiment was raised in the New Orleans area and accepted into the Louisiana State Militia on May 2, 1861, and disbanded in early February, 1862, shortly before the Union Army captured the city of New Orleans.
2. As stated, the unit was never furnished with any uniforms or arms by the Confederacy, nor apparently by the state of Louisiana. To the extent the unit had any arms or uniforms, they were furnished by the unit's members themselves.
3. The daily high temperature in New Orleans in May runs from 82 to 87 degrees.
If there were any possible doubt, the photograph was the obvious basis for the recruiting poster shown at the right.
The Native Guards "photograph" is a deliberate forgery. The soldiers are not wearing Confederate gray, but rather the sky-blue Union winter greatcoat and the Union's sky-blue trousers. Maybe a foolish person might take these to be Confederate uniforms, but foolishness can be ruled out here, because the officer on the left, undoubtedly a Union soldier, has been deliberately cropped out.
The forgery, utterly worthless as a historical record, was being schlepped out to the gullible at the website www.rebelstore.com, as documented in this screen capture, at $4.95 for an 8x10 image, "suitable for framing".
No purchaser ever seems to have asked the question: what were those supposed black Confederates doing wearing winter overcoats in the summer of 1861 in New Orleans? And if no uniforms were actually issued to these men, why are they all wearing ... uniforms?
Now, you can't buy the Native Guards forgery over at www.rebelstore.com any more, but you can still get a fine variety of bumper stickers for the true patriot including:
Item #HBS000 Does My Flag Offend You? CALL 1-800-LEAVE DIXIEAnd of course the pièce de stupid:
Real Men Are Not Afraid to Show It (apparently this refers to the Confederate flag and not a part of the real man's anatomy.)
You Think This Flag Represents Hate and Slavery? YOU ARE WRONG.
We Fought the First War Against Terrorism [Includes image of Confederate flag]
"Remember Honor The South's Black Confederate Soldiers."Update:
This ridiculous forgery continues to fool people around the web even though it's been thoroughly discredited for years.
Here's a website, which reproduces the "Native Guards" forgery claiming it as genuine, AFTER using the "Join Us Brothers" recruiting poster to show UNION troops, then claims:
... if not for slavery some African Americans would have preferred the South to the North.Yep, the South was great for blacks except for that slavery thing.
And how about this -- the History Department (yes, you got that right, the HISTORY Department) of the University of New Orleans uses the same cropped forgery here over the caption "Louisiana Native Guards." (Minor update: this is actually another version of the forgery that has been further edited to crop out the words "1st Louisiana Native Guard" but the University used almost the same words in a photo caption right below the image.)
Update #2 -- The Memory Hole:
Since this diary was posted, the University of New Orleans History Department has removed their version (this had different cropping -- see comments below) of the forged image from their website.