In the inaugural post entitled “Why Leading Scholars Make False Reports on USCT Service”, museum curator Hari Jones makes the following claim:
It is easy to demonstrate from primary sources that the work of leading academics have promoted information aligned with the movie [Glory] in lieu of facts found in primary sources. The works of such scholars have proven market value. Some in the museum business believe that the truth must be compromised in order to attract visitors. But most are simply afraid to disagree with esteem scholars. Many of the false statements concerning the service of United States Colored Troops (USCT) are results of poor scholarship by leading scholars.The myths that Jones seeks to correct are: 1) there were no African American officers in the United States Colored Troops, 2) the 54th Massachusetts was the first African American regiment in the Civil War, 3) African Americans were denied equal pay (some qualify this by stating that they were denied equal pay for most of the war), 4) President Lincoln did not intend to assign African Americans to combat duty, and 5) Sergeant William Carney was the first African American to receive the Medal of Honor.
Jones gives an overview about how each of these commonly held beliefs is technically not true.
While I am not inclined to believe that there is an ongoing conspiracy among the unnamed “leading scholars” to suppress the truth by aligning their research with the falsehoods promoted by Glory (of which there are plenty), I certainly agree that there is ample misinformation out there regarding the service of United States Colored Troops. Doing research on New Market Heights alone has provided plenty of contradictory statements and outright falsehoods that are passed down from one source to another due to poor analysis on the part of the author(s).
I look forward to learning more on what Jones has to say on this and other matters in future posts.