Update: “You Sir are No Gentlemen; as a matter of fact you are the definition of a Northern Yankee Son of a Bitch! The South will Rise Again!” Definitely not happy.
Tomorrow Mattie Clyburn Rice’s ashes will be laid to rest in her father’s grave. A color guard from the Sons of Confederate Veterans will be there because they believe (as did Ms. Rice until the end of her life) that her father was a Confederate soldier. He wasn’t and even a cursory glance at the relevant documents confirms it. Yesterday I spent about 30 minutes chatting with AP Reporter, Martha Waggoner, about the myth of the black Confederate soldier and Weary Clyburn specifically.
Given how many times this story has been butchered by reporters I kept it as simple as possible and provided the necessary documents via email. Usually I don’t get quoted, but this time around my comments were used throughout the story.
“There’s really no debate about the question of whether African-Americans fought for the Confederacy. We know they didn’t,” said author and historian Kevin Levin of Boston, who blogs about the rise of the belief in black Confederates.
“It’s unfortunate that we can’t remember these men for who and what they were,” said Levin, the historian. “They lived through the end of slavery. Now imagine being dragged into war. Because they were enslaved, they were forced to deal with the horrors of war. These were men forced to comply with their master’s wishes as they had always been forced to do.”
“This is not a story about the Confederacy as a progressive nation in terms of [race] relations” he added. “If they had won the war, they would have furthered slavery and extended it. Thank God they lost.”