The First Female Black Confederate?
I’ve said many times that the vast majority of people who believe or even push the black Confederate narrative do not do so for nefarious reasons. They are not promoting history in support of a Lost Cause agenda. In most cases they simply do not understand how to interpret the available evidence and/or the larger historical context.
This is another wonderful example. The South Carolina state senate has apparently seen fit to honor a supposed “female African-American Confederate veteran” by the name of Lavinia Corley Thompson. The details of the story are familiar. Local “historians” did a bit of research and discovered the name of a former slave on the state’s pension rolls. Notice that not once is Thompson referred to as a slave in this article. In fact, no one involved in this story, including the reporter, seems to understand that the pensions in question were given to former slaves and not soldiers.
According to Tonya Guy of the Edgefield District Genealogical Society, “Thompson served as a cook for the Confederacy under Sam Webb, who was in Company A, 1st Regiment of the Reserves.” I have come across very few stories of female slaves accompanying their masters or another soldier into the army as a camp slave. That in and of itself is worth acknowledging, but this article does nothing but confuse Thompson’s legal status.
Guy goes on to say: “We’re actively collecting information about all of the African-Americans we can find that served in the war in any capacity, because we consider them to be Confederate veterans. We have all these fabulous stories that come out of the war. It is an unsung part of our heritage that we would really like to explore and make known that these people are heroes in our eyes.” Of course, the only problem with this statement is that the state of South Carolina did not consider these people to be veterans because they were never considered to be anything other than a slave. All you have to do is look at the actual pensions forms.
In the end the real victims are the descendants of Thompson, who have been given a fundamentally flawed historical account of their ancestor by local historians and now certified by the state.
This could have been an encouraging story about how a female slave survived the Confederacy and lived through the postwar period as a sharecropper, but instead this article does little more than further spread one of the most persistent myths of the Civil War.