“Negro Pensioners are Not Classed as Confederate Soldiers”
That’s according to a document in the pension bureau correspondence files under Union County and in the year 1930 – when Wary Clyburn died. A friend of mine in the North Carolina Department of Archives and History checked the yearly statement of pensioners produced by the Clerk of Court for the Auditor’s Office. The following information was conveyed. Clyburn appears in 1926 and is alphabetical in order with other pensioners – however under the remarks column (which is mostly empty) it clearly indicates he is “colored body servant, Capt. Frank Clyburn;” other remarks indicate a pensioner’s transfer between pension levels or between counties (and one hand written remark noting pensioner is deceased). In 1927, after the addition of former slaves to the pension series, Clyburn is listed with one other man in a separate section titled “Negro Pensioners.”
There can be no denying that the pension bureau saw him as anything but an eligible body servant – it is how they consistently describe him. In addition, the Attorney General’s ruling that they could not be soldiers suggests that a case for anything other than body servant cannot be made. Wary Clyburn was a slave in the 1860s and as late as 1930 the state of North Carolina recognized him as a slave during the Civil War.
So, where does that leave the Sons of Confederate Veteran’s ceremony that honored Clyburn as a Confederate soldier this past summer? More importantly, what does it say about Earl Ijames’s participation in that ceremony? Why did he not correct the SCV and Kevin Adkins as they acknowledged Clyburn as a Confederate soldier. Why did he not state specifically in the face of the camera that Clyburn was a slave whose presence in the army and on the battlefield had nothing to do with choice. Finally, what is so disturbing is that Clyburn’s descendants were included in this charade. You decide. Here is a short clip from the Clyburn celebration. Now you understand why I do not consider the SCV to be an organization that is serious about the history of the Civil War.