Silas Chandler Essay To Be Published in CWT’s 50th Anniversary Issue

This morning I learned that my co-authored essay on Silas Chandler with Myra Chandler Sampson will be published in the February 2012 issue of Civil War Times magazine.  This just so happens to be the magazine’s 50th anniversary issue and I couldn’t be more pleased that we will be part of the celebration.

This little project has been in the works for quite some time, but it is one of the most important to me.  The essay grew out of a series of blog posts over the past year that I hoped would begin to correct the historical record as it relates to the subject of black Confederates.  Better yet, it led me to Myra Chandler Sampson, who happens to be Silas’s great granddaughter.  Myra discovered me through the blog in the course of her own tireless quest to correct the historical record of her ancestor.  She placed enough trust in me to send along a wonderful collection of archival sources, which greatly enriched my own understanding of Silas’s life as well as the rest of the family’s history through the 20th century.

Between the upcoming History Detectives episode on Silas and our own article it looks like we are one step closer to Myra’s goal of honoring her ancestor in a way that more closely reflects the available historical record.

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46 comments… add one
  • Kate Halleron Jul 9, 2011 @ 18:01

    Congratulations to you both! Too bad we have to wait so long to see it.

    The problem with the SCV today seems to be that they’re more interested in a ‘narrative’ than they are in actual history.

    Which is no way to honor one’s ancestors.

  • Rob Jul 9, 2011 @ 9:56

    Oh ok let me try to clarify. I’m not doubting Silas’ status at all. I’ve never seen any documentation giving factual evidence to the myth of the Black Confederate. The ‘mess’ I am referring to, is if it is true that a portion of the family believes in this myth, then there are two factions in one family with two different conceptions of Silas’s status. It is my hope, that the other branch of the family was just misinformed by the proprietors of that myth, but if they actually believe it, then there is a ‘mess’. I can just see the next publication that goes into depth about Silas, and attempts to discredit other family members that don’t buy into their version of the ‘truth’. Does that help? Forgive me if I seemed vague.

    • Kevin Levin Jul 9, 2011 @ 10:04

      Thanks for the clarification. It wouldn’t be the first time that descendants of slaves, who were present with the army, were fooled by organizations such as the SCV.

      • Rob Jul 9, 2011 @ 10:11

        ha ha. excellent.

      • Rob Jul 9, 2011 @ 12:06

        I think this might have been one of articles I read.

        • Kevin Levin Jul 9, 2011 @ 12:11

          Thanks for the link as I had not seen this. It’s really just a lot of SCV nonsense. As far as I know no one has gone further than Myra and I in uncovering the available evidence concerning Silas Chandler. Members of the SCV would do well to do some serious research on the subject before they go around making accusations and drawing unwarranted conclusions.

          • Rob Jul 9, 2011 @ 12:13

            No problem, and I couldn’t agree with you more.

        • Andy Hall Jul 9, 2011 @ 13:16

          That’s some rancid writing, right there. The way it slides quickly and seamlessly from the disappearance of the cross to Kevin, Civil War Memory and Ms. Sampson is pretty disgusting; it insinuates a connection without actually having the stones to come out and say so.

          I also didn’t note any attribution for the authorship of that piece. Not exactly a profile in courage from the self-appointed defenders of Southron Honor™.

          • Kevin Levin Jul 9, 2011 @ 18:15

            It’s your typical SCV trash.

          • Rob Jul 9, 2011 @ 18:45

            Andy I thought that as well. I was almost expecting him to blame Kevin at one point. He makes every other indirect accusation.

          • Myra Chandler Sampson Jul 18, 2011 @ 15:50

            I am so proud of my brother Bobbie Chandler. He attended the dedication this morning of The African American Civil War Memorial and Museum in Washington DC and shook hands with Frank Smith the founder.

            • EarthTone Jul 19, 2011 @ 5:52

              I was at the museum event and met Mr Chandler. We had a brief but interesting discussion.

              He mentioned that he had been interviewed for a TV show, in which he and some other family members pushed-back against the portrayal of his ancestor as a ‘Black Confederate.’ I’m trying to get more information about that; if I can do so, I’ll be sure to share it.

              • Kevin Levin Jul 19, 2011 @ 5:59

                Very interesting. I look forward to hearing more at some point.

    • Myra Chandler Sampson Jul 9, 2011 @ 11:48

      I see no reason why I should justify anything that I have done to get the truth told about my ancestor. I welcome anyone to write any article as long as they have original documentation. Original documents do not lie. Does Andrew M. Chandler or his brother B.S. Chandler have a Confederate Iron Cross? If not, I suggest they find the one that was on Silas’ grave and put it on one of theirs. There is no controversy about them serving the confederates during the Civil War.

      • Rob Jul 9, 2011 @ 11:50

        Nor should you have to.

  • Margaret D. Blough Jul 8, 2011 @ 21:23

    Kevin & Mrs. Sampson-That’s terrific news and I look forward to reading the article.

    • Kevin Levin Jul 9, 2011 @ 3:12

      Thanks, Margaret.

  • Greg Rowe Jul 8, 2011 @ 5:30

    Congratulations! The effort you have put into a reasoned study of this topic seems to be paying off, and in a popular publication to boot.

    • Kevin Levin Jul 8, 2011 @ 7:54

      Thanks, Greg.

  • tf smith Jul 7, 2011 @ 11:00

    Bravo effing zulu!

    • Myra Chandler Sampson Jul 7, 2011 @ 16:49

      Thanks to Kevin and CWmemory. Thank Heavens that I came across his blog when he wrote “What Price for the Black Confederate?” following the Antique Road Show in January of 2010 when the tintype was appriased. This started the ball rolling and without this, non of this would be possible. I have such a deep sense of satisfaction knowing that soon my Father, Grandfather and Great grandfather will all rest in peace with the Iron Cross and Confederate flag removed from Silas’ grave and the truth being known about the real SILAS CHANDLER. My sons and daughter will now take great pride in telling their children that their great, great, great grandfather was born a slave and died a bussiness man. I will be forever greatfull.

      • BorderRuffian Jul 8, 2011 @ 8:56

        Ms. Sampson-
        “I have such a deep sense of satisfaction knowing that soon my Father, Grandfather and Great grandfather will all rest in peace with the Iron Cross and Confederate flag removed from Silas’ grave”

        I would think that the Iron Cross was placed there with approval from at least some family members. Why are their wishes to be ignored?

        • Kevin Levin Jul 8, 2011 @ 9:00

          I will leave it to Mrs. Sampson to respond, but as far as I know she had nothing to do with the removal of the marker. It was removed by an unknown party during the filming for an upcoming episode of the History Detectives. She objected to the Iron Cross because it clearly reflected a status that was historically inaccurate. Silas was not a Confederate soldier, which as I understand is to be strictly adhered to when placing this particular marker. Silas was a slave, who was taken to war by his master.

          • Myra Chandler Sampson Jul 8, 2011 @ 11:59

            Kevin is absolutely correct in both respects. I have a petition which was posted on cwmemory which was signed by an overwhelming majority of the descendants requesting to have the iron cross removed. Many people in the Black community were angered about the cross which could be seen when they visited or buried their loved ones. It SHOULD have been removed and should not have been put there in the first place and I would like to thank whomever removed it. I do understand why BorderRuffian would question its removal.

          • Brooks D. Simpson Jul 9, 2011 @ 6:47

            Let’s face it, BorderRuffian has no respect for the service of actual Confederate soldiers when he protests the removal of a marker honoring a soldier’s service from the grave of someone who was not a soldier. He dishonors all those Confederate soldiers who took an oath, enlisted, and served. What a disgrace. Next he’ll have no problem with people wearing medals they did not earn, and other fabrications of service. It’s sad that he endorses this misrepresentation. I wonder if the SCV would cite him for a heritage violation.

            • Kevin Levin Jul 9, 2011 @ 6:52

              Even worse is his assumption that Mrs. Sampson must answer for or represent the entire Chandler family.

              • Margaret D. Blough Jul 9, 2011 @ 8:59

                I have reservations about anyone who refuses to use his real name on this blog and hides behind a Civil War persona (and not one of the nicer ones). I find Border Ruffian’s complaint to be hypocritical and ironical. His statement, “I would think that the Iron Cross was placed there with approval from at least some family members. Why are their wishes to be ignored?” certainly indicates that he thinks that the Chandler family members (is that confirmed?) who supported the placement of the cross had the authority to speak for the family as a whole, even those family members who objected to it.

                • Rob Jul 9, 2011 @ 9:31

                  I could be mistaken, but wasn’t there a claim that one descendant was present and supported this placement of the iron cross? Please correct me if I am wrong, but it seems like I heard that somewhere. Though I agree about hiding behind a persona, I think there is some validity in his statement if the claim to be true. My next question would be how to locate said descendant, and verify their account. Also, in this, you might find that they had no idea of it to begin with but were approached by the SCV or UDCV with this absurd claim.

                  • Kevin Levin Jul 9, 2011 @ 9:36

                    What statement are you referring to? Mrs. Sampson was not responsible for the removal of the Iron Cross nor does she claim to speak for the entire family. I will leave it to Mrs. Sampson to respond to your question regarding the involvement of family members in SCV/UDC events.

                    • Rob Jul 9, 2011 @ 9:44

                      The statement is about those family member’s wishes as well. Remember I said ‘some,’ validity in the statement about those members having a role to play, though I’ve never seen anything stating Silas was a soldier. Which overall causes just a complete mess in contrast with Mrs. Sampson’s wishes as well. And I look forward,to Mrs. Sampson’s comments as I would wish to find out what is going on there.

                    • Kevin Levin Jul 9, 2011 @ 9:47

                      I am not sure I follow you. What “mess” are you referring to? We know that Silas was present in the army as a slave and not as a soldier. There is no confusion as to Silas’s legal status.

            • Karl Gottschalk Jul 10, 2011 @ 10:13

              Maybe the SCV should make Brooks an honorary member, since he is so concerned about upholding the honor of Confederate soldiers– who were fighting to uphold (or so I’ve heard, anyway) er — slavery. And here I thought he sympathized with the Northern cause!

              • Brooks D. Simpson Jul 10, 2011 @ 20:53

                I think it cheapens the honor associated with military service when some people claim individuals were soldiers who were not soldiers. In the case of the SCV, yes, that really should be a heritage violation, if the SCV is all about honoring the service of Confederate soldiers. But we find SCV leaders among the very people who dishonor the service of Confederate soldiers by claiming that non-soldiers were in fact soldiers. I’m simply holding the SCV to its own charge. Why a Duke grad finds that hard to understand is best left for others to explain.

                • Karl Gottschalk Jul 11, 2011 @ 5:22

                  Same ole’ Brooks — just can’t stop himself from throwing in a gratuitous ad-hominem swipe — makes one wonder how disinterested and unbiased a scholar he really is. Anyway, SCV, here’s your chance — give Brooks a medal for upholding the honor of those who fought to keep slaves in chains!

                  • Kevin Levin Jul 11, 2011 @ 5:24


                    Perhaps you should do a better job of making your point because I have no idea what you are trying to say.

                    • Karl Gottschalk Jul 11, 2011 @ 5:41

                      Kevin, I don’t see how I could be much clearer. Perhaps the problem is comprehension on your part rather than clarity on my part?

                    • Kevin Levin Jul 11, 2011 @ 5:44

                      I guess so, but as far as I can tell you have no idea what point Brooks was making.

                    • Brooks D. Simpson Jul 11, 2011 @ 11:57

                      Karl is trying as hard as he can.

                  • Brooks D. Simpson Jul 11, 2011 @ 10:44

                    Karl’s a bit frustrated that he can no longer launch personal attacks against people on my blog (note he skips over that fact). However, I’m glad he’s finally seen the light on slavery as a Bad Thing. It was not always that way. That he doesn’t comprehend my point is par for the course.

                    See, Kevin, I have my stalkers, too. 🙂

                    • Kevin Levin Jul 11, 2011 @ 10:47

                      …a second-rate stalker at best, Brooks. 🙂

                    • Rob Jul 11, 2011 @ 10:49

                      he also doesn’t know what ad hominem is.

                    • Brooks D. Simpson Jul 11, 2011 @ 11:56

                      Karl’s behavior calls into question the value of Duke education. 🙂

  • Rob Jul 7, 2011 @ 10:43

    This is really exciting news.

  • Larry Cebula Jul 7, 2011 @ 9:19

    So glad to see you doing this, Kevin. This is the only way this myth will be extinguished, one “black confederate” at a time.

    • Kevin Levin Jul 7, 2011 @ 9:21

      Hi Larry,

      It turns out that there is a great deal of documentation related to Silas’s life and it works to challenge just about every strand of the narrative that you will find Online. Funny, but the only thing that seems to be true is that Silas was indeed black. 🙂

      • Larry Cebula Jul 7, 2011 @ 14:40

        Wow–can’t wait to read it. I wonder how many other of these “black confederates” have similar levels of documentation if one bothers to look?

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