On February 20, 1865, the Confederate Congress authorized the recruitment of slaves into the army. Well, as we all know, the war ended only months later, but this leaves a haunting question. If Jefferson Davis had authorized the use of slaves, could the Confederacy have won the Civil War?
Timeless questions arise as to the reasoning behind such actions. During the War Between the States, many military maneuvers were still very new. Trench warfare originated during the Civil War, as did the use of machine guns, hand grenades, and land mines. Submarines were newly invented, as were iron ships. The Civil War was the first time that troops were transported by way of railroads.
So what took the Rebels so long to realize that they were going to lose the war if they didn’t instigate the use of slaves? At that time, 3/4 of the Southern population was black. If the South had promised freedom for slaves who fought for the Cause, perhaps the outcome would have been very different. Because insurrection by slaves had taken place only a few years previously in Virginia, it was probably enough to scare authorities into thinking that, should they enlist slaves, the blacks might turn against their masters. But the black Confederates who enlisted didn’t do as predicted. They fought nobly, and with honor. It’s only a wonder why there weren’t more of them.