The third dig by Civil War Memory's Kevin Levin at Ann DeWitt's poorly-researched black Confederate website (discussed in my own post below) did not go unnoticed by Levin's frequent critic, Richard Williams -- nor did his insinuation that the Old Virginia blogger had arranged some sort of quid pro quo between himself and DeWitt -- with Williams defending DeWitt publically in exchange for an advertisement of Williams's book on DeWitt's website. See Richard's response here.
But enough with the online Civil War soap opera. More recently, Levin has posted two more extended reflections on the subject of black Confederates, both of which offer some much-needed constructive criticism of this strange subject. The first of his two posts addresses the question of why so many white folks care about black Confederates in the first place (also see my own post below), while the second addresses potential new directions for the study of black Confederates -- which, of course, is contingent upon believing that there were black Confederates in the first place.
The second post is the more substantial of the two, and in it Levin correctly argues that studies of black Confederates should move beyond shallow quantification ('how many black Confederates were there?') and into the more subjective realm of experience ('what potentially motivated black to fight?' / 'what did African-Americans experience in the Confederate service?'). Just the same, Kevin might have done better to suggest that existing studies of black experience behind Confederate lines remain woefully inadequate, and that the study of black Confederates, even if they did exist, misses the experience of the vast majority of Southern blacks by an incredible margin.
It's a interesting subject, to be sure, but its political implications are so touchy, its potential for misuse by heritage orginaizations so profound that we would all do well to approach it with even more skepticism and senstivity than what Kevin advocates.