18 January 2010

Antiques Roadshow Does Black Confederates

An original of this popular image was just shown on PBS' Antiques Roadshow. A direct descendant of Andrew Chandler shared it, and the appraiser told him it was worth $30,000 - $40,000. The man appearing on the show said that the Black Confederate & slave, Silas Chandler, fought with his master and used a gold piece to bribe Union doctors in order to keep them from amputating his master's leg. According to this gentleman, Silas received a Confederate pension. The families of both men have reconnected and are now friends.

Andrew & Silas Chandler


Pam Walter said...

Fascinating story! Probably not a very common scenario. www.satisfiedsole.com

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

It is an interesting story, though not all that uncommon. No, there is no research which shows that tens of thousands of blacks did not take up arms for the Confederacy. But there are many individual stories like this one which show that the master/slave relationship during the WBTS was sometimes a complicated one.

WerewolfinExile said...

There is a great book called "Black Masters" by James Roark, a professor I had at Emory. It details the stories of several wealthy, free blacks in both South Carolina and Louisiana who had sizable slave worked plantations and supported the confederacy. The fact the there were more free blacks in Confederacy than in Union is another ignored facet of history. However, I agree that there is a lack of research detailing this interesting subject.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...


Yes, I have that book - very interesting. When you speak of more free blacks in the Confederacy, I assume you don't mean the army?

BorderRuffian said...

There seems to be some controversy about the status of Silas Chandler with some insisting he was a slave-

"A descendant of Andrew Chandler brought in the original famous photograph of his great-great-grandfather and slave, Silas Chandler....
...He was a slave....He was a slave...etc, etc"

while others say he was free-

"Enlisting in the Palo Alto Confederates in 1861 from his home in Palo Alto, Mississippi, at age 15 Andrew Martin Chandler was mustered into Co. F of Blythe's Mississippi Infantry, 44th Mississippi Infantry. He participated in several campaigns with his childhood playmate, friend and former slave, 17 year-old Silas Chandler."

I wonder which is true?

Could the Chandlers be contacted?

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...


I don't know which is true. Here's the link to the website:


Unlike some historians and bloggers, I don't believe that the terms "Black Confederate" & "slave" are mutually exclusive. The reason some on both sides of the controversy emphasize one over the other is because of their agenda.

WerewolfinExile said...

You are correct. I did not intend to imply free blacks serving in the Confederate army. I was referring to the free black population at large being larger in Confederacy than in the Union.

On a side note, can anyone verify if Stonewall Jackson's aide de camp was a slave who held the privileges inline with a low ranking confederate officer? I have heard that, but been unable to confirm it. I could think of few stranger things than a slave outranking an enlisted man. I don't mean to come out of left field there.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Mr. Wolf:

I think you're referring to Jim Lewis, Jackson's cook and body servant. Some historians claim he was a free black. I think the evidence suggests he was a slave. Jackson's accounting books make more than one entry of a payment to fellow church member "W.C. Lewis" for the "hire of Jim." Regarding his "privileged status" - that notion most likely comes from some of the grumbling of Jackson's staff about Lewis's closeness to Jackson and Lewis's trips back to Lexington with Jackson's permission.

WerewolfinExile said...

Thanks for the clarification. That makes sense and answers some questions. Great blog by the way, sir.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Thank you.

BorderRuffian said...

Reading further in the article at the 37th Texas website:

"The following is from a 1950 typed transcript of handwritten notes from an interview with Andrew Martin Chandler conducted in 1912:

'He served in the Confederate Army, and even in 1912, was still true to the cause. He told me much about his service in the army, even though he considered his contribution as rather slight, being that of less importance than any soldier in the ranks.

While there, he told me of another Silas Chandler that served with him in the Army. This Silas was a former slave owned by his parents, who was papered out just before the war..."


"NOTE: Our thanks to Andrew Chandler Battaile and K. Peter Polley (Detachment 16, Confederate Signal Service), descendants of Andrew Chandler, for family recollections and the transcript of a 1912 interview with LT Andrew Chandler."

So Michael Kelly does have a source for this information and it's straight from the Chandler family.

What is Levin's source that Silas was still a slave in 1861?

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...


Interesting . . . but I couldn't answer your question.

Johann Van De Leeuw said...

Great post sir!

Msimons said...

Kevin's whipping stick is HE NOT IN THE Confederate Service or Pension records. Using Kevin's thinking you could DQ many Anglo Confederate service men due to lack of records.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

I don't buy the "100's of thousands of Black Confederates" either. That said, I do believe those who served should have their service honored.

MSimons said...

Neither do I Mr. Williams. Still it upsets me to see the Know it alls that keep telling me every picture of a Black man in a Confederate Uniform is nothing more than a Slave. I would guess the number of Black Confederate Soldiers would be less than 5,000.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

I have no idea of the number (and neither does anyone else), though that number is a lot more likely than the hundreds of 1000's some claim. The fact a black man may or may not have been a slave is certainly something that should be pointed out and should be part of the narrative. The problem I have w/Levin and others is that they do, though with more subtlety, exactly what they accuse those on the other side of the argument of: they want to over emphasize the slavery aspect of the Black man's status and discount his service for the Confederacy, thus steering the reader in a certain direction. In other words, since he was a slave, his service should be looked at in a way that is somehow lesser than someone who volunteered as a free man. That's as ridiculous as saying those in Vietnam who were drafted - and served honorably - should not be honored as highly as those who volunteered. It defies common sense, in my opinion. Just state the facts and let the truth lead where it leads. In other words, "show me, don't tell me."

Msimons said...

I concur Mr. Williams.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

BR - I received your comment about this issue being discussed on another blog. I rejected the comment not because you didn't raise a valid point, but because the author of that post is not credible, in my opinion.(I'm not referring to the Chandler descendants' comment, just the author of the post). Frankly, I really don't want to give audience here to a self-proclaimed "activist historian."

John said...

On the Antique Road Show Andrew Chandler is frankly telling lies! I know this because Silas Chandler is my great-great-great grandfather. He claims that the Chandler families had been separated for three generations when in-fact descendants of Silas Chandler live in the small town of West Point, MS to this day and he knows it. The two families have even had adversarial relations during the decades of the civil rights struggle and there are documents from the archives of the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission (MSC) to prove this. The Andrew Chandler family requested these documents be removed from the MSC web site, but I downloaded copies before they did so. I often spent summers in West Point visiting my grandfather, uncle and other relatives.

Slavery is an involuntary condition. A slave who is a soldier is not doing so for a cause as much as he is for survival and yet Silas had the compassion and moral conviction to help Andrew. The current descendants of Andrew Chandler could show their gratitude by stopping the lies that they are fond of telling about my great-great-great grandfather!

If not for decisions made by Silas Chandler the descendants of Andrew Chandler literally would not exist!

John B. Sampson, M.D.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Dr. Sampson:

Thanks for your input.

"A slave who is a soldier is not doing so for a cause as much as he is for survival. . ."

That is a broad statement and is, no doubt, true in most cases. However, I believe there are exceptions to that.

". . .yet Silas had the compassion and moral conviction to help Andrew."

That, in my opinion, is what makes the story interesting. Scholars and historians have noted that, despite the evild of slavery and the brutality of war, human compassion often shined through in very ironic ways. It is something that has always fascinated me.

Thanks again for presenting your side of the story.

J. Battaile said...

Dr. Sampson,
I am the cousin of the man on the TV show, who is actually named Chandler Battaile, not Andrew Chandler. Although we are related to the Chandlers, we are not as closely related the Chandlers in Mississippi apparently are. I can assure you that he was not intentionally telling any lies about your great-great-great grandfather. Since we are members of the Battaile, not the Chandler family,Chandler Battaile was talking about how our family, not the Chandlers in Mississippi, was separated from Silas's. We do not even live in the south. It was not my or Chandler Battaile's family who requested those documents to be removed, either. However, I do agree that it was a very compassionate act of Silas, and I am VERY grateful that he chose to do it!