Former Confederate Searches For Long Lost Camp Slave

I really appreciate readers and friends who continue to send me references related to the myth of the black Confederate soldier and history of camp servants (slaves). This is the first piece of evidence, however, that I have seen of a Confederate veteran, who placed a newspaper ad looking for information about his former camp servant.

The ad was placed in the Alexandria Gazette in 1900 by Captain A.B. Carter, who served in the 6th Virginia Cavalry. The content itself is not unusual. Confederate veterans often wrote glowingly about the “faithful” service of their former slaves.

Accounts like this always leave more questions than answers. For me, the most common question that remains (given that most of the postwar evidence about the master-slave relationship was written by white men) is how former slaves viewed the war and their former masters. Did Benjamin Harris even have any interest in meeting Carter after all these years?

I am certainly going to include this in the next draft of Searching for Black Confederates once I get the reader reports back from UNC Press.

6 comments… add one
  • Bryce Hartranft Feb 24, 2018 @ 11:17

    I’d like to know how they came to be separated in the first place. If he was such a loyal servant and friend, why did Harris leave Carter at all?

    • Kevin Levin Feb 24, 2018 @ 11:32

      Good question.

      • RUDOLPH YOUNG Mar 8, 2018 @ 12:56

        In 40 years of researching ,I found one Black Confederate. He was Lawson Johnson ,a former camp servant of General Robert D. Johnston. In the last weeks of the war , Lawson was sent from St. Petersburg to the hospitals at Richmond so he could be enlisted in the Confederate army . General S. Richard Ewell ordered that the first of two companies of Black Confederate soldiers be raised from black hospital workers . Lawson Johnson’s company was at Seven Springs on the night of the evacuation. They were sent back to Richmond to burn Confederate documents and load Davis’ baggage train. Then Lawson went to the hospital to find General Johnston who had been sent there after he was wounded on the foot. Lawson did not find him for he had left in an ambulance . Lawson collected General Johnson’s horses and caught up with the general before he arrived home in Lincoln County, NC . After Lawson Johnson arrived home , Susan Avery ,Stonewall Jackson’s sister- in -law sent Lawson to warn General Johnston that Col. Palmer was headed toward Cottage Home . General Johnson picked up Joe Morrison , Stonewall’s brother -in- law and Aid de Camp and they all preceded toward Charlotte to warn Jeff Davis and Breckenridge . Breckenridge ordered them to the trans-Mississippi.
        The master-slave relationship cancels all other human relationships . There must be free will all around. We cannot have friendship or loyalty . what we got here is accommodation. Slave masters think that this is friendship and loyalty . If they were so tight ,why didn’t the former slave adopt the name Carter.
        General Johnston and Lawson Johnson both left a narrative behind in 1907.

  • Paula Feb 23, 2018 @ 3:20

    Edit! Harris, not Harrison

    • Kevin Levin Feb 23, 2018 @ 3:24

      Thank you.

  • Scott Ledridge Feb 22, 2018 @ 15:57

    There’s a great 2 part podcast from The Nod called The Hairstons about a girl whose family lived and worked on the Cooleemee Plantation for generations. She was the first to leave in the 50s. Years later, she had a kind of runin with the patriarch of the family that owned the plantation. This man’s perception of his relationship with his camp slave reminds me of the patriarch’s perceived relationship between the two families in the podcast

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