TOCWOC – A Civil War Blog

Henry Morton Stanley, Confederate

Henry Morton Stanley is best remembered for his role as an African explorer.

His 1874-77 journey, charting the Congo river, started the Scramble for Africa. Before Stanley, the white man had been largely content to nibble at the edges, staking little more than ports such as Freetown, Cape Town and Mombasa. After Stanley, the white man went inland.

His planned statue in his home town of Denbigh, Wales, has come under fire for supposedly glorifying imperialism.

Stanley had an earlier career as a Confederate soldier, signing up with the Dixie Grays, part of the Sixth Arkansas, and fighting at Shiloh, where he was captured.

I became so absorbed with some blue figures in front of me,” he wrote, “that I did not pay sufficient attention to my companion Greys. I assumed that the Greys were keeping their position, and never once thought of retreat, but to my speechless amazement, I found myself a solitary grey in a line of blue skirmishers. My companions had retreated! The next I heard was, ‘Down with that gun, Secesh, or I’ll drill a hole through you! Drop it quick.’

The whole fascinating story of Stanley’s Confederate history, capture, imprisonment at Camp Douglas and release by taking oath and enlisting in the Union army is covered in an article in Military History Online.


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