New to the Civil War Memory Library, 03/26

Bone RoomsI am very excited to see that Stephen Sears is slated to release a new book early next year. It is titled, Lincoln’s Lieutenants: The High Command of the Army of the Potomac. Sears has always been one of my favorite Civil War writers.

Matthew Desmond, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City (Crown, 2016).

Bridget Ford, Bonds of Union: Religion, Race, and Politics in a Civil War Borderland (University of North Carolina Press, 2016).

Samuel J. Redman, Bone Rooms: From Scientific Racism to Human Prehistory in Museums (Harvard University Press, 2016).

Steven E. Woodworth and Charles Grear eds., The Tennessee Campaign of 1864 (Southern Illinois University Press, 2016).

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A Very Small Army of Black Rebels

One of the topics that I take up in the final chapter of my book about Confederate camp slaves and the Myth of the Black Confederate Soldier is the presence of a very small number of African Americans in social circles that subscribe to this myth. I have written extensively about H.K. Edgerton as well as Karen Cooper and Anthony Hervey.

Add to this group one Andrew Duncomb, who is the subject of a forthcoming documentary directed by Christopher Stoudt. [click to continue…]

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A Black Confederate Soldier Who Served Two Masters

Update: No surprise that this story was picked up by a local news station. This is a wonderful example of why this myth will not die.

searcyThe vast majority of people who come into contact with the Myth of the Black Confederate Soldier so do through stories such as this one out of Chattanooga, Tennessee. This one is particularly useful. It’s brief and any discerning reader can easily pick out the contradictions.

Let’s start at the beginning:

Shaderick Searcy was a black Confederate soldier. He was a bonded servant of Dr. John Searcy of Talbotton, Ga. When the Civil War began, Dr. Searcy, knowing that both his sons James and Kitchen would become pawns in this great struggle for states rights, dedicated Shaderick to become body servant to his two boys.

In the first two sentences we learn that Searcy was both a soldier and a servant (slave) to two Confederate soldiers. No reporter is listed, but whoever is responsible for this piece clearly does not understand the difference between the two or how Confederates at the time understood the difference.

He received a pension for his Confederate service and died at the age of 91 in Chattanooga.

Searcy likely received a pension for his time in the army as a slave and not as a solider. The state legislature, like many other former Confederate states, awarded former slaves pensions, who could demonstrate fidelity to their masters.

Finally, there is the headstone itself, which clearly indicates that Searcy “served under masters J.D. and W.K. Searcy.” How much clearer does it have to be that Searcy was not a soldier? I would love to know what year the marker was placed. While the Confederate battle flag etched on the marker might be confusing, the legal status of this individual and his role in the war is crystal clear.

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An Opportunity for the Nau Center for Civil War History

This is certainly one of those moments when I still wish I still lived in Charlottesville, Virginia. Tonight community leaders in Charlottesville will meet to urge the city council to rename Lee Park and remove the statue which was donated by Paul MacIntire in 1924. The vice mayor has come out publicly in favor of removal. The city recently ended its annual observance of Lee-Jackson Day and the Lee monument has been vandalized more than once in recent years. [click to continue…]

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More Talk About Confederate Monuments

Update: Tweets from this session are now available on Storify.

NCPHAll indications are that yesterday’s panel discussion at the annual meeting of the National Council on Public History on Confederate monuments and iconography attracted a large and engaged audience. The twitter feed from the session, however, also suggests that many left feeling frustrated. What I gathered from the conversation both confirmed and helped to clarify my own position on this thorny issue.

All four panelists are experts in their respective fields and have worked closely with the general public in various capacities. [click to continue…]

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Earl Ijames and his “Colored Confederates” are Back

It’s been a couple of years since we last heard from Earl Ijames. Back in 2011-2012 I devoted a good deal of attention to statements Mr. Ijames made in public about what he calls “Colored Confederates.” You can read what I have written here if interested. Today I learn that Mr. Ijames has produced a documentary video titled, “Earl Ijames Colored Confederates and US Colored Troops.”

According to the local newspaper in Kinston, North Carolina:

Drawing on more than 20 years research of primary and genealogical sources, Ijames, who is widely considered the subject matter expert on the African-American experience in the Confederacy, conveys the significance of Confederates of Color before the Emancipation Proclamation and after the creation of the United States Colored Troops. The eight-year project was recorded live and is based on actual events that led to the first monument in American history to honor Confederates of Color.

“Confederates of Color” is another one of those sloppy references that distorts more than it helps to clarify the role African Americans played in the Confederate war effort. That last sentence is a doozy. Confederate veterans and their descendants ‘honored’ African Americans on numerous occasions well into the twentieth century, but up until recently they did so as loyal slaves within the Lost Cause tradition.

Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find the video for sale online.

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