This story was referenced in its entirety without any analysis over at Michael Hardy’s blog. It’s the standard story that points to a loyal slave – in this case Cliff Harrington Wary Clyburn – who served in the Confederate army and later collected a pension. The article is truly bizarre: “The documents say he volunteered for the Confederacy with Capt. Frank Clyburn, who was the son of the man who owned Wary Clyburn[.]” Let’s put aside for now the obvious tension, if not contradiction, between the idea of Clyburn volunteering for service when at the same time he was owned. Of course, the article wouldn’t be complete without the all-important reference to slave loyalty:
According to the pension documents, Wary Clyburn served as the bodyguard for Frank Clyburn in Company E of the 12th regiment. Wary carried Frank on his shoulders to rescue him during intense fighting. Wary also served as a special aid to Gen. Robert E. Lee.
I can’t tell you how many slaves “served” at one point during the war as Lee’s “special aid.” By the way did anybody consider that pension documents need to be interpreted? I suspect that Clyburn viewed his pension application in terms of financial gain and filled out the forms in hopes that his application would be approved by a white employee. What would you say?
The writer ends with the following:
The obvious question is this: Why would a slave volunteer to fight on the side of people who held him in bondage?That’s a question that only Mr. Clyburn can answer. Too often when it comes to the Civil War and slavery, we hear versions of the truth that are woven from conjecture and narrow perspectives. It’s refreshing when you find the truth. This is it. Wary Clyburn was a brave and loyal hero. And he deserves to be honored by all of us. IN MY OPINION
Apparently we’ve found “the truth” of Clyburn’s story through a document written over 50 years after the fact without any attempt at interpretation. There is no indication that Clyburn left any additional documents for consideration, but according to the reporter we have everything we need.