The Making of a Black Confederate Soldier

William Mack LeeRecently the Norfolk County Grays Camp No. 1549, Sons of Confederate Veterans installed a military style marker to honor William Mack Lee, who they claim was Robert E. Lee’s “cook and body servant” during the war.” In addition to the headstone, a Cross of Honor reaffirms the belief among the organizers of the event that WML was indeed a soldier.

They are convinced of this fact based largely on a pamphlet published about WML in 1918. But even a quick glance at this pamphlet reveals a number of problems with WML’s claims about his connection to Lee and his role in the war.

Historian Elizabeth Brown Pryor raised a number of questions about WML’s account in a footnote in her wonderful book, Reading the Man: A Portrait of Robert E. Lee Through His Private Letters:

Rev. Lee claimed that he was raised a slave at Arlington and served as a cook tot he general throughout the war. He is not listed on any inventory of Arlington slaves, however; places Lee (and himself) at battles such as First Manassas, and claims to have cooked for a group of southern officers “in de Wilerness” on July 3, 1863, that included Stonewall Jackson and George Pickett as well as Lee. On this date, Jackson was dead, and Lee and Pickett were fighting the last desperate throes of the battle at Gettysburg. Lee’s letters make no mention of William Mack Lee. His personal servants and cook during the war were Perry and Lawrence Parks and Billy Taylor. (n. 39, p. 562)

WML was clearly involved in the writing and publication of this pamphlet, but he clearly had more in mind than producing what he hoped would be seen as an accurate historical account. In 1881 WML was ordained as a Baptist Minister in Washington, D.C. and was involved in the construction of a number of churches. He clearly believed that his story as a loyal servant might be leveraged to raise funds from the white community.

He will be in town all of this week, and if you want to help him pay for his church you will find him on the streets or some one will tell you where he can be found.

WML’s account is another wonderful example of how former camp slaves (assuming WML was ever one) responded and played to the tenets of the Lost Cause narrative of the Civil War for their own benefit.

The fact that the war had set him free was of small moment to him, and he stayed with his old master until his death.

Former camp slaves like Steve Perry (a.k.a. Steve Eberhardt) reinforced the belief among former Confederates that their war united white and black alike around a common cause. In WML’s case, it may have assisted him in maintaining and expanding his congregation at a time when financial support was limited from within the community.

Interestingly, at no point in the pamphlet is WML referred to as a soldier. He remained a loyal and trusted former servant whose service to Lee and the Confederacy was likely understood as an inspiration behind his own sense of mission.

Former Confederates and white Southerners generally needed WML to vindicate their failed cause and the recent ceremony that begins this post suggests that for a select few he is still needed.

77 comments… add one
  • Richard Rafail Sep 19, 2018 @ 10:30

    So, what’s the big deal. Even the word “soldier” means slave [Sold to(r) die]. Their was Black, Jewish, White owned slave plantations in the North and South during the war. Slaves were only brought to U.S. by Jewish ships and Jewish sailors, docked only in the North, a shame that’s never mentioned. You’ll never find records of slaves being sold on the Sabbath-Saturday. Guarantee records of the South are missing and burned by the Lincolnians so the man is never discovered to be a fool for Office.

    • Kevin Levin Sep 19, 2018 @ 10:38

      What exactly does this have to do with anything? LOL

    • Jimmy Dick Sep 19, 2018 @ 15:39

      The complete ignorance in Mr. Rafail’s post is only matched by the racism it also contains. Note the utter lack of evidence he offers to support his statements while he also makes a pathetic attempt to promote a conspiracy theory as to why there are no records to support his statements. The fact that the records never existed to begin with and only exist in his mind obviously aren’t enough for him.

      We have courses on history that you can take, Mr. Rafail. That is, if you are not afraid to learn. I’ve noticed a major lack of interest on learning on the part of those who promote the lost cause lies and its racism.

      • Kevin Levin Sep 19, 2018 @ 16:16

        We won’t be hearing from Mr Rafail again. 🙂

  • Julian Jun 29, 2016 @ 7:25

    when considering some of the motivations and ramifications of the H.K.Edgerton story as you are doing for your book, this story folds back nicely and counterpoints the multiple possibilities of the present day story ….

  • Kevin Dally May 26, 2016 @ 14:19

    Let me clear up my question: Did the UDC, or the SCV place the Cross on the grave, or was that done by someone else?

    • Kevin Levin May 26, 2016 @ 14:20

      Given the contents of the story, I assume it was the SCV.

  • Kevin Dally May 26, 2016 @ 13:38

    Where did the Southern Cross of honor come from?

  • Mark Snell May 26, 2016 @ 7:53

    It is really hard to take anyone seriously who cowardly hides behind a pseudonym, let alone one as nefarious as “Border Ruffian.” From the conservative textbook, _A Patriot’s History of the United States_, the authors set the stage for the political battle that resulted in Bleeding Kansas: “Thousands of pro-slavery men, known as Border Ruffians or ‘pukes’ (because of their affinity for hard liquor and its after effects), crossed the border from Missouri. They were led by one of the state’s senators, David Atchison, who vowed to ‘kill every God-damned abolitionist in the district.’ And they elected a pro-slavery majority to the convention.” Now, please take note that this quote comes from a a pair of self-proclaimed “conservative” historians, so do not make the tired, old claim that “all” academic historians are liberal and thus their conclusions should be dismissed.

    • Kevin Levin May 26, 2016 @ 8:01

      I hear you Mark. I keep this guy on a very short leash.

    • Forester May 27, 2016 @ 10:09

      I don’t really quote from that book, though it’s amusing as a casual read (it sat in my bathroom for years, and I think I’ve read every page twice). It’s a blatant propaganda book, written from the perspective that the United States government is innocent and justified in damn near everything. The purpose of the book is right there in the title — its an RE: to Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the US,” which I think is a glorified coffee coaster in its own right.

      “The Patriot’s History of the US” chapter on the Confederacy actually veers into screed, with logical fallacies and ad hominems that most “liberal” writers wouldn’t make. Like describing “pot-bellied Southern sherrifs” as a historical fact. Really? How do yall know they were pot-bellied? Did they get their research from “The Dukes of Hazzard”?

      Sorry to go off-topic, but I just wanted to rant. That book is not history, though it is useful as a window into the minds of neo-Cons. Being a political moderate, I have similar feelings about Howard Zinn (who is worse than Shelby Foote for never citing anything he says).

      • Kevin Levin May 27, 2016 @ 11:11

        Knowing Mark I don’t think he necessarily disagrees with you. I think he was just pointing out the absurdity of the individual’s pseudonym.

        • Mark Snell May 27, 2016 @ 12:04

          One of the perquisites of being a professor is that you receive a lot of unsolicited books from text-book publishers. _A Patriot’s History_ was one of them but it was not the book that I used for my US history survey course. I would have quoted Jim McPherson but he is a Yankee who taught at a Yankee Ivy League school. (And Forrester: I am being sarcastic here. I thought I would point that out since sarcasm and/or humor does not always come across in blog postings.)

    • Andy Hall Jun 29, 2016 @ 7:48

      BR got canned from the Civil War Talk forum a long while back for incessantly trolling in bad faith.

  • BorderRuffian May 26, 2016 @ 5:26

    Confederate veteran headstone at grave of Louis B. Middleton (non-enlisted cook). Applied for servant’s pension in SC in 1923. Died 1935. The stone appears to date from that time-


    “Negro Man” at Chattanooga Confederate Cemetery-

  • Kevin Dally May 25, 2016 @ 13:27

    OK, the marker in question was purchased privately, did not come from the VA. Is this due to a change in VA policy concerning “black confederates”, or did groups always have to buy them privately for “black confederates”?

    • Andy Hall May 25, 2016 @ 15:00

      Kevin, in the article the SCV cites a rule made 4-5 years ago by the VA that requires requests for headstones to be made from the next of kin. This obviously is a problem for anyone dealing with CW veterans, North or South, making it MUCH harder for organizations to secure headstones. A year or so ago, the VA agreed to revisit that policy, apparently with an intent to remove or modify that rule, but I haven’t heard what came of that.

      There have been at least some cases, though, where the VA declined to provide headstones for “black Confederates” because the VA decided they did not meet the criteria of being military veterans. That was the case in 2009 when the UDC and SCV in Pulaski, Tennessee requested 18 stones in the names of men who weren’t even buried in the cemetery where they stones would be placed. In that case, like with William Mack Lee, they contracted with a local monument company to provide look-alike stones of the same pattern used by the VA.

      Over the years the SCV and other groups have placed quite a few VA-pattern stones on graves of “black Confederates,” but given that they do sometimes get them from other sources, too, it’s hard to know which come from where unless (as in this case) they actually say so.

      • Kevin Levin May 25, 2016 @ 15:04

        Thanks for following up, Andy.

      • Kevin Dally May 25, 2016 @ 15:47

        Again, a great response from you! Thanks.

  • Patrick Jennings May 25, 2016 @ 9:54

    Good story. I must say I find the use of the military-style headstone a bit of an insult to all parties involved. The comments, however, got me thinking…are there reports/soldier stories about camp slaves “deserting” to the Union lines?

  • David Kent May 25, 2016 @ 5:55

    I know Kevin. It’s just frustrating to me that in 2016, we haven’t got together as a country…….regardless of race, religion, or gender. I just wish we could finally live up to our tenets. I truly believe that education is the key, but our children are living in a time where the first thing they get from their education is huge debt. Instead of educating our children, making them involved, tax paying citizens, we spend the money on jails. Sorry……my rant for the day! I suppose I’m getting too old for this fight!

  • David Kent May 25, 2016 @ 4:17

    I can only imagine the garbage that would be written if you used such “proof” to discount any black men in the confederate army. They’d jump on you with both feet. I simply cannot fathom what’s driving these people. Even if everything they said is true, one man does not make an army.

    • Kevin Levin May 25, 2016 @ 4:51


      The vast majority of people that fall victim to this myth do so because they do not understand the relevant history. I have explained in a number of places why this myth came about and why a small number of people have an active interest in perpetuating it.

      • Shoshana Bee May 26, 2016 @ 7:56

        The link provided really helped catch me up on the Black Confederate Myth from beginning to present. I may have overlooked this somewhere, but I was wondering if there is an accepted standard for what would constitute a verified Black Confederate? CSA Enlistment, rank, mustering out paperwork?

        • Erick Hare May 26, 2016 @ 8:52

          Shoshana Bee The Confederate Congress did not legalize the enlistment of blacks in the Confederate armies until March 23,1865. So there was very little time for blacks to enlist, be trained and join the fighting before Lee surrendered to Grant on April 9, 1865.

          Also in a letter Robert E. Lee wrote to Andrew Hunter on January 11, 1865, ten days after Lee was promoted to Commander in Chief of all armies, Lee stated clearly his belief about ideal race relations Stuart there was no disturbance of the master and slave relationship to that point in the war.

          There were units like the Louisiana Native Guard that were formed during the war, but the Confederacy refused to enlist them in their armies and use them to help fight the war. Here are a couple of links to Lee’s letter and the Confederate legislation I referenced:

          Confederate legislation to legalize the enlistment of blacks:

          Robert E. Lee’s letter to Andrew Hunter written on January 11, 1865:

          • Erick Hare May 26, 2016 @ 8:57

            Autocorrect is annoying!

            Instead of “Stuart” in the second paragraph it should say “made clear that”

          • Shoshana Bee May 26, 2016 @ 16:22

            Thank you, Eric: Two weeks of possible official enlistment does not afford much time for the thousands of purported Black Confederate Soldiers to enlist, and later, muster out. This really puts everything is perspective.

            • Kevin Levin May 26, 2016 @ 16:24

              If you want to know more about this brief period in 1865 check out Bruce Levine’s book, Confederate Emancipation.

  • Al Mackey May 24, 2016 @ 18:38

    William Mack Lee was a con man bilking racists who bought his “Loyal Negro” act out of “contributions.” I took a closer look at his claims last year:

  • Erick Hare May 24, 2016 @ 10:48

    It is interesting how shoddy and self-seeking this sort of historical distortion is. To maintain their argument that the Confederacy was not formed and the Civil War was not fought over the issue of slavery in this country groups like this have to rely on secondary evidence provided by a biased source from over 50 years after the war ended.

    If they actually took the time to research some of Robert E. Lee’s correspondence during the war, as Kevin pointed out, along with any other Confederate leaders’ thoughts on the issue during the war (ie Jefferson Davis or Alexander Stevens) then their argument is proven to be an outright fallacy.

  • BorderRuffian May 24, 2016 @ 10:41

    Lee applied for a pension in 1925 (“Person who served as a body servant, cook, teamster, etc”). He said he was in Company G, 27th Virginia Infantry.
    Witnesses were S. H. Humphries and J. E. Dooley.
    Pension was approved.
    Q. “Who were your immediate superior officers?”
    A. “Robert E. Lee.”

    • Kevin Levin May 24, 2016 @ 10:45

      And am I to assume that you confirmed his presence as a soldier in the 27th Virginia? I have not seen his pension application, but it was most certainly not a soldiers’ pension.

      • BorderRuffian May 24, 2016 @ 10:56

        “I have not seen his pension application, but it was most certainly not a soldiers’ pension.”

        As I stated- “Person who served as a body servant, cook, teamster, etc” (as in type of application).

        • Kevin Levin May 24, 2016 @ 10:59

          OK, so it sounds like there is a discrepancy in the application given the reference to the 27th Va.

          • Rblee22468 May 24, 2016 @ 11:30

            I have it. I’ll post a link to it in a bit.

            • Rblee22468 May 24, 2016 @ 11:33
              • Kevin Levin May 24, 2016 @ 11:48

                Thanks, but unfortunately I don’t have access to the documents.

                • Rblee22468 May 24, 2016 @ 12:13

                  I’ll email them to you.

                  • Rblee22468 May 24, 2016 @ 12:53
                    • Kevin Levin May 24, 2016 @ 12:57

                      Thank you.

                    • Forester May 24, 2016 @ 16:45

                      Sorry to be thick, but does the pension document change anything? Does this make WML’s story more likely to be true? If four Confederate officers signed off that WML was indeed Lee’s cook, isn’t that credible? Or not? I must admit I’m lost and need some help from trained historians. (This is not sarcasm).

                      Kevin, does your opinion about William Mack Lee still stand?

                    • Kevin Levin May 24, 2016 @ 16:49

                      The one form has “disabled soldier” crossed out and further down WML filled out a pension form for a servant. It’s also interesting that the witnesses necessary to verify WML’s application need not have been soldiers. I think the documents are for the most part clear as to his status during the war.

                    • Rblee22468 May 25, 2016 @ 5:31


                      An excerpt of “Black Confederates and Afro-Yankees in Civil War Virginia” By Ervin L. Jordan:

                      From pages 198-199

                      “Blacks first became eligible for state pensions with the passage of an act on 14 March 1924; this act amended and reenacted previous acts of 1916 and 1918 regarding Confederate pensions. It referred to the position “body servant” but not to “Negroes” or “slaves”: “Under the provisions of this act any person who actually accompanied a soldier in the service and remained faithful and loyal as the body servant of such soldier, or who served as a cook, hostler or teamster or who worked on breastworks under any command of the army and thereby rendered service to the Confederacy, shall be entitled to receive an annual pension of twenty-five dollars, proof of service and right to be enrolled to be prescribed by the auditor of public accounts.” This law excluded runaways, Afro-Virginians who served as soldiers and laborers for the Union army, and black women. However, white women who were widows (even those who remarried) of Confederate sailors, soldiers, or marines or who had been hospital matrons were eligible not only for pensions but also to have their funeral expenses paid for by the commonwealth.

                      To prove his entitlement a petitioner had to file an application with his local hustings or circuit court accompanied by affidavits from two white ex-Confederate soldiers; if none were available, certificates from two local whites of good reputation were acceptable substitutes. The state auditor examined each application for correctness, and county courts appointed a board composed of three pension commissioners, two of whom had to be either Confederate veterans or their sons. These boards reported the merits of the applications to the courts. If one was accepted, the applicant’s name was entered on the state pension rolls, and the auditor thereafter issued payment accordingly. Blacks could not serve on these boards, and at any point in the process, vindictiveness and racial prejudice could present formidable obstacles for any would-be black pensioner.

                      Approximately 270 black male Virginians fulfilled the requirements of the application process annually during the years 1925-1926 (table 8.1). The 1928 General Assembly amended the 1924 act in several respects; one of these was the inclusion of former slaves who had performed guard duty, buried Confederate dead, or “worked in railroad shops, blacksmith shops, or Confederate hospitals.” They, too, became eligible for a pension of $25 a year; twenty-six years later this amount was increased when the 1954 assembly gave black Confederates an annuity of $240 per year. White Confederates were to receive $1,200 and their widows $480 annually.”

                      On page 200, Ervin continues:

                      “One of the cruelest ironies of Civil War Virginia is that of the hundreds of thousands of Afro-Virginian slaves, barely three hundred black males sixty years after the conflict received a pittance for their service and sufferings. These body servants were the only slaves ever financially compensated for their enslavement. Some have judged them harshly for their devotion to whites, but they, like other slaves and free blacks, were survivors of a system long opposed to black self-determination.”

                    • Kevin Levin May 25, 2016 @ 5:35

                      Jordan gets Virginia’s pension system right. Here is an overview of other states that offered former Confederate camp slaves pensions.

                    • Rblee22468 May 25, 2016 @ 5:38

                      I have a question. Is it even physically possible for one slave to have accompanied REL from the start until the finish of the war? WML’s story aside, is it even possible if we look at a timeline of REL’s movements from beginning to end? WML’s application states that he entered service on January 17, 1861 in Richmond, Virginia. It states that REL was his superior officer. It also states that he stayed through the entire war.

                    • Kevin Levin May 25, 2016 @ 5:46

                      There are numerous problems with WML’s account. Look above for Al Mackey’s comment and follow the link to his blog.

  • Andy Hall May 24, 2016 @ 6:32

    From the article:

    That changed recently when Norfolk County Grays Camp No. 1549, Sons of Confederate Veterans, installed a marble marker identical to those the Veterans Administration provides for fallen American veterans.

    “The U.S. government does provide stones for Confederate veterans. Recently … it has been very hard and difficult to get stones for them,” said Billie Earnest, historian for the Suffolk chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. “They’ve now passed a ruling that a family member must request the stone.”


    They’ve done this before, notably at the faux cemetery for “black Confederates” in Pulaski, Tennessee, contracting with a private monument company for a stone that looks like a VA-issued stone, but actually isn’t. It’s a not-so-subtle way of implying official government/military imprimatur on whatever narrative they want to tell.

    • Kevin Levin May 24, 2016 @ 6:34

      Thanks for reminding me of this, Andy.

    • Jimmy Dick May 26, 2016 @ 18:09

      The VA ought to have “NOT A SOLDIER” carved into any headstone that is to be used for a black man who was alleged to be a Confederate. The howls of outrage would be deafening.

      They could also put the US flag on the headstones as well.

  • Kevin Dally May 24, 2016 @ 5:28


    I have argued the point that those blacks/slaves who were in the Confederate ranks, should have a marker designating their service, that is a different design from the “Soldier” style of marker. Or, should they even have a marker noting their service at all?

    • Kevin Levin May 24, 2016 @ 5:33

      Service to who exactly? These men were enslaved just as they were before the war. The design is irrelevant to the fact that the SCV and UDC are using these men to serve their own ends. Their lives matter little beyond the attempt to confuse the meaning of “service” and claim these men as somehow loyal to master and the Confederacy.The descendants of these men should be the ones who honor their lives as they see fit, but hopefully apart from the influence of heritage organizations.

      • rblee22468 May 24, 2016 @ 6:19

        ““A lot goes into it (tombstone) to make sure everything is true to fact. Confirming dates and checking spellings are part of it,” said Susan Price with Ogg’s Stone Works in Portsmouth. “The plaque we put on the back went through four or five different people to make sure that everything that was on there was correct and true to the history,” she said. “Once it’s all done, what you’re seeing is all factual. I love it. I’ve been to quite a few of these things. It’s historic.””

        This quote could be problematic.

        Anyone know anything about the author, Bob Ruegsegger ? I see he also wrote this piece as a “correspondent”.

      • Kevin Dally May 24, 2016 @ 6:49

        “Service to who exactly?”
        ” The design is irrelevant to the fact that the SCV and UDC are using these men to serve their own ends.”

        Strong points I agree with, thank you for your thoughts on my comment. An emotional subject for many, who blindly believe that blacks/slaves ARE Confederate soldiers, for one reason or another. I point out many times to them they are giving those slaves a status that didn’t ever exist for them. I catch a lot of grief on my postings, and get blocked by folk a lot! None so blind, as those who will not see!

      • Forester May 24, 2016 @ 6:57

        I agree and disagree at the same time, Kevin. I certainly oppose any marker or monument that implies slaves were loyal Confederates, and I don’t care much for this stone (even though I know some of the people involved). On the other hand, I think that legitimate memorials to slaves — acknowledging the horrors and wrongs of slavery — are a good thing.

        You said, “The descendants of these men should be the ones who honor their lives as they see fit, but hopefully apart from the influence of heritage organizations.”

        The thing is, I’m not sure if that’s always feasible. Gravestones and markers are VERY expensive and the descendants don’t usually have the means for them. If my g-g-g-grandfather’s stone hadn’t been provided by the SAR (he was a Colonial militiaman, wounded in 1780), he wouldn’t have one. I can’t even afford to buy my own father a gravestone right now, much less an ancestor 6 generations ago. It’s even worse for black people, with the economic inequality and the ongoing legacy of slavery.

        Groups like the SCV or UDC do have the means to erect monuments, and I think there is a way to do it respectfully (and without turning slaves into a Lost Cause political shield) …. they just haven’t done it yet. Maybe they never will, I don’t know. But I think it’s possible.

        • Kevin Levin May 24, 2016 @ 7:01

          I am certainly not against memorials to slaves. I also don’t disagree that costs often amount to an insurmountable obstacle. The SCV and UDC have shown their cards time and time again. There is absolutely no reason to believe that they will one day get it right. They are not interested in the lives of slaves apart from the mythology that they continue to push.

          • Forester May 24, 2016 @ 8:14

            Sadly, I have to agree with you there. I doubt it will ever happen either. This is the main reason I’ve never joined a heritage group. The Norfolk Grays would be my local SCV camp if I joined, which I obviously haven’t. Things like this monument make me very uncomfortable. 🙁

          • David A. Vazquez Dec 24, 2018 @ 20:38

            I notice how you over and over refer to the SCV as “they”, as if we are a monolith, as if we all think alike. You’re also writing as if what you write is never going to be read by SCV members such as myself. It’s disrespectful and unfair. It’s similar to referring to all policemen all around the country monolithically as “they”, or all Latinos, for that matter as “they”, as if we’re all alike and all think alike. To be honest, the more I read of your posts, the less you sound like a historian, and more like a bigot. University professors and serious scholars do not write like this.

            • Kevin Levin Dec 25, 2018 @ 3:07

              What exactly do you take issue with?

  • Forester May 24, 2016 @ 4:14

    Oh, Norfolk ….. this is why we can’t have nice things. >_<

    On the bright side, at least the headstone doesn't call him a soldier. I was satisfied with the words "cook and body servant" (basically calling him a slave) when I first saw it, but I assumed the story was historically valid.

    Thanks for posting about this. I didn't realized it was a hoax from 1918.

    • Kevin Levin May 24, 2016 @ 4:35

      The marker will likely confuse people given the military style headstone and marker. That is their goal. I suspect that most people do not equate “cook and body servant” with a slave.

      • Jerry Sudduth Jr. May 24, 2016 @ 4:48

        It makes him appear to be a Confederate version of the role batmen played in the British military. The thing is those men were enlisted in the Army and detailed as body servants to officers.

        • Kevin Levin May 24, 2016 @ 4:51

          Not sure what you mean by “enlisted.” Silas Chandler was not enlisted in the army as a slave. He was legally bound to his master alone.

          • Jerry Sudduth May 24, 2016 @ 6:28

            I meant the batmen in the British Army were enlisted. I hit submit before clarifying that point and I do apologize for any confusion.

            There’s no way Chandler or this fellow were anything but slaves and body servants to the Confederates.

            • Kevin Levin May 24, 2016 @ 6:29

              Thanks for the follow up.

              • Jerry Sudduth May 24, 2016 @ 6:35

                No problem, my fingers tend to work quicker than my brain at times.

                As others have stated, what worries me about how the marker reads is that it’s ambiguous enough to make it seem like he was an actual soldier. To people who know it is obvious he wasn’t. But to those who don’t know they’ll think this man was a soldier.

                This is why I’m thankful you’re writing a book on this topic. Hopefully it can counter the mythology.

        • Forester May 24, 2016 @ 6:30

          Jerry, slaves were nothing like batmen. They were considered “loyal servants” of their master only. Even in pension records, no service to the Confederacy was ever mentioned — it was always service to their master.

          I talk about my ancestors over and over, so if you’ve already seen this, skim over it. I found my g-g-grandfather’s slave in “North Carolina Troops, 1861-1865: A Roster” volume XIII:

          FORESTER, JEFF, _____
          Negro. North Carolina pension records indicate that he “went and served his Master, Lieut. S.J. Forester.” Joined the company on or about March 23, 1862. (Co. B, 55th Regiment N.C. Troops)

          He served “his master,” not the Confederacy. The popular thing in those days was the “loyal slave” myth. The “Black Confederate” thing is a 21st century modernism.

          • Jerry Sudduth May 24, 2016 @ 6:41

            I know they weren’t like batmen, what I’m saying and not so elegantly or efficiently is that by marking the grave as they did, the SCV is making it appear as if the man was a soldier was enlisted and assigned to be the servant of General Lee.

            The best thing I could think of as an analogy was the concept of batmen in the British military to compare.

            As I said I botched the execution in how I phrased it and I’ve hamfisted this conversation but you’re right and I fully agree with what you stated.

            • Forester May 24, 2016 @ 7:01

              Hey, no problem man. I enjoy the discussion.

              Comments on here can be pretty hasty, and we don’t get to edit them so we’re always stuck with the first draft. It’s no big. 🙂

              • Jerry Sudduth May 24, 2016 @ 7:10

                No prob! As you said we’re all trying to figure this out together!

  • Edward Alexander May 24, 2016 @ 3:51

    As the finding aid I’ve seen at one institution who has a copy of this pamphlet simply states – “fraudulent baloney.”

    • Kevin Levin May 24, 2016 @ 3:53

      That pretty much sums it up.

    • Jimmy Dick May 24, 2016 @ 8:12

      Sources are important to the development of historical interpretations. Understanding sources and the context around them is vital. Too many people want to take everything at face value. As that institution has shown, bad sources need to be called out for what they are. They’re still valuable, but not necessarily for what the source’s originator may have intended. In this case, the source and its context provide valuable evidence of how people tried to cash in on the world around them.

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