History textbook stirs controversy about Civil War

By Ben Garbarek - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A history book used in some school districts in Virginia incorrectly claims thousands of African-Americans fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War.

Historians say that number is probably only a fraction of that.

Critics say the exaggerated number downplays the role of abolishing slavery during the Civil War.

The Department of Education says the mistake in "Our Virginia: Past and Present" got by their panel of reviewers and call the error "regrettable."

Historians like Ted Tunnell say only a handful of African-Americans fought for the South, nowhere near a thousand.

"I wouldn't say many historians say it's exaggerated," he said.  "I would say all professional historians at universities would say it's grossly exaggerated."

So how did it end up in a textbook?

The Department of Education says the book met its standards and was reviewed before being allowed into the classroom, but the department says sometimes mistakes are missed.

Most school districts in the Richmond area don't use that book but use a different history book for 4th grade. Some parents NBC12 spoke to say that book should never have been on the child's desk to begin with.

"I don't want them messing up something and her learning something wrong," said Andy Bedwell, who has a 13 year-old daughter.  "[She'll say] 'Daddy look at what I learned today.' Baby girl that's not what's true you know? I want them to put the right textbook on the table."

Hopewell is the only school system in the area that uses this textbook.

School officials there say they're no longer using the book after hearing about this misinformation.

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