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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Honoring Black Confederate Veterans Of Union County, North Carolina - Three Year Anniversary

In honored memory of Miss Mattie Clyburn Rice, Real Daughter of United Confederate Veteran Weary Clyburn whose dedication to honoring the memory of her father and others like him made this possible. God bless you, Miss Mattie! 

On Saturday, December 8, 2012, a new marker was dedicated at the base of the Confederate Soldiers Monument in downtown Monroe, North Carolina. This new marker honored the memories of ten known Black Confederate veterans from Union County, North Carolina who received pensions after the War Between the States (1861 - 1865) as recognized members of the United Confederate Veterans 

It was a beautiful afternoon in Dixie. The weather was mild for December in North Carolina and the skies were clear for the event.The ceremony was held at noon with a maximum attendance of 438 people, including the descendants of the veterans being honored.

I am pleased to report that at no time during the ceremony was any disrespect shown towards the descendants in attendance by anyone passing by, or curious onlookers who stopped to marvel at what was no doubt the curious sight one few of them would have credited before that moment. To see so many white and black Southerner men and women in Sunday best suits, others in Confederate uniform and 19th century period attire, as well as a good many in the biker garb of the SCV Mechanized Cavalry all standing together as brothers and sisters under the battle flags of the Southern soldier. All of us there to honor men who were unfortunately not given the honor due to them in life as Confederate soldiers and American veterans, except by those men who served by their sides.

The ceremony was beautiful and there were tears shed as the Confederate Pensioners of Color marker was unveiled and black roses placed after the reading of each name of the Confederate veteran honored that day.

Overall it was a beautiful and impressive service and well worth the trip. I will always consider myself proud and honored to have been there to witness it. That is why today, on the three year anniversary of the event, I am pleased to post the photos I took of that day. 

Large US Flag overhead courtesy of the City of Monroe Fire Department.
Bagpiper Ken Willis sporting the official Confederate Memorial Tartan.
It should be noted that the Confederate Memorial Tartan
(created circa 1995) is a commemorative item rather than actual
attire. No civil war regiment in either Union or Confederate service
wore actual kilts in battle. The wearing of this kilt is symbolic to the links
of Scottish and Ulster-Scot (Scots-Irish) heritage to Confederate identity
and Southern heritage as a whole.
Confederate Honor Guard made up of both North Carolina and
South Carolina unit reenactors.
Members of the North Carolina Society Order of the
Black Rose in period "Widow" attire.
Members of the Sun Valley High School Navy JROTC Color Guard
from Indian Trail, NC carrying the United States Flag and POW-MIA Flag.
Members of the 16th Regiment South Carolina Color Guard of Honor
from Greenville, SC.
A wonder shot of the Old Union County Courthouse with Confederate
Soldiers Monument. US and Confederate Flags waving beautifully
in the cool December breeze.
Members of the Col. John Sloan Camp # 1290 SCV with camp colors.
Several members of the SCV Mechanized Cavalry.
Members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, United Daughters of the
Confederacy, Order of the Confederate Rose and Military Order of the
Stars & Bars along with many guests including the descendants and families
of the black United Confederate Veterans being honored.
Mr. Tony Way preparing the new marker for unveiling prior to the service.
Miss Mattie Clyburn Rice (RIP), Real Daughter of United Confederate
Veteran Weary Clyburn and Life Member NC Order of the
Confederate Rose. The "Widows" Attending "Miss Mattie"
(as many of her family and friends affectionately called her)
are Christy Cloer, Madison Johnson & Miss Mackenzie Welch
of the North Carolina Society of the Black Rose.
Posting of the colors.
Pledge of Allegiance to the United States Flag.
Stacking arms.
Mr. Tony Way, President of the Union County Pensioners Of Color
Monument Committee, North Carolina Division, SCV
A simple and humble wreath honoring the 
occasion long overdue.
Past Commander In Chief SCV Michael Givens inducting Confederate
descendant Aaron Perry (great-great grandson of United Confederate
Veteran Pensioner of the same name being honored that day)
into the Ranks of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and presenting him
with his certificate of membership.
Past Commander Mark Simpson of the SC Division SCV.
Major Matthew Delk, A local US combat veteran who gave an
outstanding speech about honoring American Veterans of all wars.
Mrs. Jackie Washington, retired sheriff of Atlanta, Fulton County, GA,
great-great granddaughter of Black Confederate Aaron Perry with her son.
Mr. Earl L. Ijames, Curator of the North Carolina Museum Of History.
Keynote speaker for the event.
The unveiling of the Confederate Pensioners of Color marker.
Laying of the memorial wreath. Miss Kelly Hinson portraying
Mary Anna Jackson "Widow of the South".
As Miss Jane Brewer, NC Society Order of the Black Rose, reads aloud
the names of the ten black Pensioners of Color, members of the
NC Society OBR walked up and placed a single black rose down for
each remembered Confederate veteran honored that day.
Ten United Confederate Veterans - nine former slaves and one free
man of color, all Southern men and soldiers finally recognized
for their service.
Musket volley and salute.
A cane that belonged to Confederate President Jefferson C. Davis
in the later years of his life following the War.
An amazing piece of Confederate history on display inside the
Old Court House courtesy of the NC Museum.
A somewhat inaccurate depiction of a black Confederate soldier.
Many of the black men who served in Confederate ranks did not
have full uniforms, except maybe a kepi or coat.
Some even wore dyed Federal uniforms taken from the bodies of Union
dead. Many Confederate soldiers themselves also wore mismatched
outfits by the middle of the War. 
Real Daughter and UDC Life Member Miss Mattie Clyburn Rice (RIP)
posing for the new marker that she was largely responsible for
getting placed at the Confederate monument our of respect for
her father, Weary Clyburn, and other Confederate Pensioners of Color.
Miss Mattie passed from this life on September 1, 2014
almost two year after this photo was taken. Her ashes were
buried - per her final request - at the grave of her Confederate Veteran father.
A memorial service for Miss Mattie and her father was preformed
by Confederate heritage organizations from the both the Carolinas and
Virginia on October 18, 2014 where a new marker of Georgia
granite donated by the SCV as a special gift to the family was placed
at the grave in her everlasting memory.
The details of that memorial service can be seen HERE on this blog. 

It should be pointed out by this blogger that while both slaves and Southern-born free men of color served in the Confederate army in a various number of service jobs and combat roles, of that number only about an estimated couple thousand (possibly as high as 5,000 or so) actually saw combat as "soldiers" in terms of bearing arms or facing the invading Union soldiers in the Confederate military and ranks. 

While the Confederate soldiers who served with these black Southern loyalists certainly considered them fellow Confederate veterans after the war and as fellow Confederate soldiers in combat and in camp, the Confederate Congress as an entity - with the notable exception of black musicians employed in the Confederate army - did not formally recognize these men as Confederate soldiers until March of 1865, a month before General R. E. Lee and General Joseph E. Johnston surrendered the two main Confederate armies. 

Few black Confederates themselves were formally enrolled officially as members of their respective Confederate regiments, though some of these were listed as soldiers when noted and later the same in pension applications in the former Confederate states. 

The fact that many of those black men and boys who served in defense of Dixie and their own native soil were denied official recognition of that service beyond those who served with them is a disgrace. One that I am thankful that those who honor the heritage left by the service of the Confederate soldier is taking great steps to correct in modern times.

The efforts and outstanding contributions of all black American veterans were largely overlooked until just about the start of the 1970s when real efforts made by people of good conscience to bring these veteran's stories to light began. Black Confederate veterans in particular have been overlooked - except by groups like the SCV and UDC who have always honored them within their spheres of influence. 

The same can likewise be largely said of black Union soldiers of the United States Colored Troops (USCT) who were largely forgotten outside of historical roundtables until about the late 1980s and an outstanding film called Glory (1989) again brought the subject of black Civil War veterans to light.

The subject of black Southern men as Confederate soldiers is one of considerable debate by certain modern (and mostly) non-Southern "historians" and bloggers - as are the alleged motives of modern-day Confederate heritage groups for honoring these men in that role.  The fact that the accusations of these individuals often involve laughably weird "neo-Confederate" conspiracy theories that almost make David Icke's Reptillian conspiracy theories sound close to rational is a subject for another time.

All this blogger can add to the discussion of the qualification and definition of a soldier is to observe that after the War ended it was the "official" Confederate soldiers (the ones formally enrolled) who regarded those black Confederates -- former slaves and free men of color -- as fellow United Confederate Veterans and treated them honorably as such. 

Those men were the ones who endured the war together in the ranks and in camp, in prisoner of war camps, in field hospitals, and through the horror of an ugly war and the final surrender after enduring so many sacrifices side by side. 

The ones who shed the blood, the ones who put their lives in the others hands, the ones who held the hands of the dying, the ones who later went to reunions with each other and remembered those who never came home. Those were the only men who were qualified to say what defines a "soldier" and fellow veteran. Not government recognition, nor a piece of paper, and certainly not people with modern-day agendas regardless of what they are. 

And that's just good ole Southern Fried Common Sense.  

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