“It Is a Surrender Of the Entire Slavery Question”

black confederate, SCVOn March 24, 1865, Robert Toombs wrote a letter to a friend in Virginia expressing his frustration with Jefferson Davis and the recently passed legislation that allowed the Confederate government to recruit freed slaves into the army. Toombs’s arguments closely aligns with public statements made by Howell Cobb and James A. Seddon. Continue reading ““It Is a Surrender Of the Entire Slavery Question””

Black Confederates in the Journal of the Civil War Era

Looks like the latest issue of The Journal of the Civil War Era is being mailed to subscribers. The Professional Notes section features my essay, “Black Confederates Out of the Attic and Into the Mainstream,” which briefly explores the evolution of the myth, its diffusion on the Internet, and why academic and public historians ought to care. Even if is the case that the number of news stories has peaked it is still out there on hundreds, if not thousands, of websites waiting for the next poorly conducted search.

Thanks to Aaron Sheehan-Dean for the invitation to contribute to the journal. I am thrilled to finally see it in print. Those of you with access to Project Muse can read it online.

Weary Clyburn Didn’t Serve the Confederacy, He Survived It

Haley - Clyburn Proclamation
Governor Nikki Haley Statement about Weary Clyburn

It’s been a week of posts about Weary Clyburn and I suspect many of you would prefer that I move on to something else. Many of the usual suspects in the Southern heritage community believe that I am attacking the memory and good name of Ms. Mattie Rice. One person in particular compared my posts this week to the actions of the Westboro Baptist Church, which was initially confusing to me since I thought the individual in question was a member. I’ve always found topics like this, where there is a conflict between history and memory, to be ideal grist for this blog mill.

As I understand it, the problem for my detractors is that I don’t accept the narrative advanced by Ms. Rice, which essentially frames the story of her father as that of a slave who fought as a solider in the Confederate ranks. It’s true. Given my understanding of the history of slavery and the Confederacy and access to the relevant archival documents, it is my contention that this narrative is false. There is no wartime evidence that Weary Clyburn served as a soldier in the 12th South Carolina Infantry and postwar documents related to his pension clearly state that he was not a Confederate soldier. It is irrelevant whether Ms. Rice believed such a story. My responsibility as a historian does not begin and end with what any one individual happens to believe about the past. Continue reading “Weary Clyburn Didn’t Serve the Confederacy, He Survived It”

Video of Mattie Clyburn Rice Memorial Service

Below is video coverage of the memorial service for Ms. Mattie Clyburn Rice and her father, Weary Clyburn, which took place this past weekend. The opening speaker references Clyburn as a soldier in the 12th South Carolina Infantry, which is patently false given the evidence. The next speaker uses Lincoln’s Second Inaugural to suggest that Weary and Frank Clyburn experienced the same war. They “drank from the same streams and felt the same heat and cold and they witnessed the same ugliness that is a part of war.” What is completely overlooked is that one experienced the war as a slave and the other as a free man. Teresea Roane, formerly an archivist with the Museum of the Confederacy and now with the UDC, suggests that thousands of black men served as soldiers in the Confederate army. Continue reading “Video of Mattie Clyburn Rice Memorial Service”