Ben “Cooter” Jones Fires Up The General Lee

Most of the emails that I received over the weekend in response to my interview for a story about Mattie Rice Clyburn were predictable. The responses included references to the fact that I am “from” Boston even though no true Bostonian would agree with such an assessment since I’ve only lived here for three years. And, of course, many of the emails include the tired mantra that I “hate the South.” I filed the emails away with the rest of the hate mail that I’ve received over the years. Continue reading “Ben “Cooter” Jones Fires Up The General Lee”

What Confederate Defeat Ought to Mean to One Family

Mattie Clyburn RiceI see three generations of the Clyburn-Rice family in attendance for yesterday’s service in honor of the family matriarch, Mattie Clyburn Rice. It looks like a strong and loving family. Regardless of the nature of the relationship that the family has forged with descendants of Confederate soldiers, we should never forget that it was the defeat of the Confederacy that made Weary Clyburn free. It allowed him to build a family that no longer ran the risk of being forcibly separated.

In short, it was the defeat of the Confederacy that helped to make possible the family you see here.

That is all.

Who Was This “White Man’s Darkey”?

It’s not difficult to understand why Mattie Clyburn Rice believed that her father’s story was intertwined with Confederate soldiers. It was. Growing up Ms. Rice listened to her father’s stories about Confederate soldiers and the war. It goes without saying that it must have been an exciting time in his life and it should come as no surprise that he wanted to pass on those experiences to his family. One thing that has been lost in all the controversy surrounding Weary Clyburn’s official status in the Confederate army is that the core of his story is true. Weary’s wartime experiences helped to forge a close relationship with veterans in Monroe, NC. What else can explain the fact that his passing was covered in the local paper? This, however, does not change the fact that the available records demonstrate that he was a slave and not a soldier.

We can’t know much about Weary’s wartime experience, but his obituary does shed some light on how race shaped and defined the limits of his wartime experience and his postwar interaction with Confederate veterans and the surrounding community. Continue reading “Who Was This “White Man’s Darkey”?”

R.I.P. Mattie Clyburn Rice

For those of you who linked to this site from the AP story about Mattie Clyburn Rice and are visiting for the first time, welcome. For those of you interested in reading further about the subject of black Confederate soldiers I put together this page, which includes some of the many posts on this blog as well as external resources. One of the most popular examples of so-called black Confederates is that of Silas Chandler. In 2012 I co-authored an essay about Silas and the famous photograph of him with his owner, Andrew Chandler, for Civil War Times magazine.

Here is what we know about Weary Clyburn:

  • Weary was owned by Frank Clyburn and brought into the war.
  • Weary applied for a soldiers pension after the war.
  • Nowhere in his obituary was he recognized as a Confederate soldier.
  • Weary’s pension application was denied after his death. In other words, the state of North Carolina recognized him as a slave in the 1860s.

Again, those are the fact as I understand them. Thanks for stopping by.

Quoted in AP Article About Mattie Clyburn Rice

Update: “You Sir are No Gentlemen; as a matter of fact you are the definition of a Northern Yankee Son of a Bitch! The South will Rise Again!” Definitely not happy.

Tomorrow Mattie Clyburn Rice’s ashes will be laid to rest in her father’s grave. A color guard from the Sons of Confederate Veterans will be there because they believe (as did Ms. Rice until the end of her life) that her father was a Confederate soldier. He wasn’t and even a cursory glance at the relevant documents confirms it. Yesterday I spent about 30 minutes chatting with AP Reporter, Martha Waggoner, about the myth of the black Confederate soldier and Weary Clyburn specifically. Continue reading “Quoted in AP Article About Mattie Clyburn Rice”