That’s a euphemism for slaves who were forced to work for the Confederate government during the war or who accompanied a master into the army. Of the ten men who will be recognized today in Union County North Carolina, nine were slaves. All received pensions after the war, but not for their service as soldiers. The marker reads: “In Memory of Union County’s Confederate Pensioners of Color,” and lists their names: Wilson Ashcraft, Ned Byrd, Wary Clyburn, Wyatt Cunningham, George Cureton, Hamp Cuthbertson, Mose Fraser, Lewis McGill, Aaron Perry and Jeff Sanders. I have the pensions for most of these men, including Clyburn’s whose file includes a letter confirming that his pension was not a recognition of service as a soldier – just in case there was any confusion.
It will be interesting to see whether event organizers, including speaker Earl Ijames, will mention that these men were indeed slaves. It is nice to see that at least one newspaper includes a reference to these men as slaves. That inconvenient fact is almost always ignored, but without it the history of these men makes absolutely no sense.
As I’ve said before, there is nothing wrong with remembering these men, but Confederate slaves ought to be recognized for surviving the Confederacy.