Category Archives: Lost Cause

A Good Week for the SCV and Virginia Flaggers

Brooks Simpson is having some fun with what he has dubbed the 2013 Confederate Heritage Follies Countdown. Lord knows he’s got plenty of material to work with. I suspect that the SCV and/or Virginia Flaggers will crack the top five.

I’ve been known to have a good laugh at the expense of both organizations, but it is worth acknowledging that every so often the Virginia Flaggers and Sons of Confederate Veterans manage to do something that actually advances the cause of Confederate heritage and history. This past week the planets must have been properly aligned because both organizations hit the mark in the same week. Continue reading

Selling Black Confederates

staunton vindicator, black confederateFirst, I want to thank Robert Moore for passing along this little gem, which he found in the Staunton Vindicator (12/11/1863). After searching for additional information about the source I realized that another reader had passed it along back in 2011.

Fellow blogger and historian Andy Hall followed up with additional information uncovered at Footnote:

There are several pages of compiled records for Dick Slate with the 18th Virginia Infantry at Footnote, designating him simply as “drummer,” no rank given. He’s listed on “Field and Staff” rolls, with no specifics on formal enlistment or discharge. Men like like Dick Slate really seem to be betwixt-and-between in terms of their military status. Bill Yopp, for example, is now remembered (as designated on his headstone) as a drummer, although Bell Irvin Wiley, who actually met him, is very explicit that he was a body servant. Presumably he actually served both roles.

There was special measure during the war where the CS Congress authorized pay for slaves employed as musicians. This was, I suspect, a belated recognition that men were bringing their slaves along with them and employing them as musicians (e.g., Captain Thomas Yopp and Bill Yopp). Not clear to me that this pay went directly to the slave; as in other cases it may have gone to the master, who may or may not have passed it along.

Without clear documentation of formal enlistment or discharge, I wonder what official status Dick Slate actually had within his regiment, or if he was only carried on the rolls as a drummer at his master’s pleasure — which would be an entirely different sort of status than a soldier who was enlisted for a specific term — one year, three years, for the duration, which could not be broken without a formal process and review.

Quite a few of the men now identified as BCS were musicians — Bill Yopp, Henry Brown, Dick Slate — so the actual, official status of these men within the army is relevant to the discussion. Generally speaking, the laws passed by the CS Congress differentiate between non-commissioned officers, privates and musicians — implicitly identifying the latter as distinct and separate from the first two — but (for me at least) it remains a very confusing story that bears further digging.

Andy is likely spot on with his analysis of the available evidence. The Confederate Heritage crowd loves pointing to musicians as examples of loyal service among black Southerners. One wonders, however, how the sale of Dick Slate fits into this comforting picture.

The Logic of Servants and Soldiers

F.R. Hoard Pension, black ConfederateEvery so often I like to browse a couple of Facebook pages devoted to the myth of the black Confederate soldier. People post all kinds of interesting things related to history and memory and once in a while an archival source appears.

This one caught my eye, though interestingly enough, it appeared without any commentary. At this point I still do not know the source. In 1920 F.R. Hoard of Churchill, Tennessee applied for a soldiers’ pension. As you can see he was denied. “It seems from your application that you were not a soldier, but the servant of a soldier, and therefore you are not pensionable.” In 1921 Tennessee offered former servants pensions. It is unknown at this point whether Churchill applied.

You may remember a similar document related to a North Carolina servant by the name of Wary Clyburn, which I posted back in 2009.

Confederacy Theory

The following documentary about the history and controversy surrounding the Confederate flag in South Carolina was released in 2001. Glad to find this as I am putting my Civil War Memory course together for the spring semester. The documentary does a great job exploring the raising of the flag atop the state capital and the influence of both the Civil Rights Movement and Civil War Centennial. John Coski gets a good deal of air time to discuss the popularity and evolution of the Confederate flag as well as the fact that ordinary Americans utilized it as a symbol of “massive resistance” during the 1950s and 60s. He also does a first-rate job of dismantling the black Confederate narrative at the 27:00 min. mark.