Skip to comments.Duty. Honor. Confederacy.
Posted on 07/27/2008 7:52:45 AM PDT by cowboyway
MONROE At first glance, its an unlikely combination. A black family seated under a tent facing a line of Civil War re-enactors, proudly holding Confederate flags and gripping their weapons.
But what lies between these two groups is what brought them together: An unmarked grave about to get its due, belonging to a slave who fought for the Confederacy.
Weary Clyburn was best friends with his masters son, Frank. When Frank left the plantation to fight in the Civil War, Clyburn followed him.
He fought alongside Frank and even saved his life on two occasions.
On July 18, the city of Monroe proclaimed Weary Clyburn Day; an event that coincided with the Sons of Confederate Veterans convention in Concord.
The N.C. Division of Sons of Confederate Veterans (James Miller Camp 2116) honored Clyburn, who died March 30, 1930, with a memorial program at Hillcrest Cemetery in Monroe and unveiled a new headstone for his unmarked grave.
Its an honor to find out we have a gentleman who served ... with loyalty and devotion to his friend, said Commander Michael Chapman of the local SCV chapter.
Im happy to be here. Its a glorious day, said Mary Elizabeth Clyburn Hooks of New Jersey. I just think its beautiful these people chose to celebrate my grandfathers bravery and courage. Its just overwhelming.
Missing from the event was the woman who helped bring the pieces together, Mattie Clyburn Rice of High Point, who remembered the stories her father shared with her as a child.
Rice was hospitalized the morning of the ceremony.
Rice remembered being at her fathers funeral, said Earl Ijames, a curator at the N.C. Office of Archives and History. He told her stories, and being able to verify those stories brought this event together, he said.
Ijames met Rice when she was at the state Archives Office looking for her birth certificate in August 2005. She was in the wrong department and he struck up a conversation with her. Ijames asked Rice her name and upon hearing Clyburn, asked if she had ever heard of Weary Clyburn.
She looked straight at me and said, Thats my daddy, he said.
Ijames has been researching colored Confederates for the past 14 years. According to Rice, he said, Clyburns father sharecropped and painted after the war. He moved from Lancaster County, S.C., and eventually settled in Union County. Rice moved away but relocated to North Carolina three years ago to take care of her nephew.
An impressive crowd gathered at the gravesite to pay tribute to Weary Clyburn. Civil War re-enactors, dressed in full regalia, came from overseas and states as far away as California and Pennsylvania to the program.
Were here to honor Weary Clyburn, but really, the honor is ours, said N.C. SCV Commander Tom Smith. The Sons of Confederate Veterans honors our own and hes one of our own. We need to do more of what were doing now."
Weary Clyburn was one of thousands of slaves who served in the Confederate Army, Ijames said. Theres no way to quantify the number of slaves who served. But its in the thousands, easy.
People today often wonder why slaves fought for the Confederacy. Ijames said the only course they had to freedom was through the Confederate Army. Why not go and defend what they know versus running away and going to the unknown, Ijames said. A lot of us automatically assume the war started to free slaves. Thats not true. It was a war to preserve the Union as the way it was.
Slaves were not allowed to fight in the federal army, Ijames said. Those that made their way behind Union lines were still considered slaves.
Clyburn escaped the plantation and made his way to Columbia, S.C., where he met up with Frank in boot camp. They were best friends, Ijames said.
Felicia Bryant, Clyburns great-granddaughter, agreed. They were really good friends and that trumped everything else.
Dixie ping, NC ping.
This event was practically in my back yard, but I didn’t see the information in the newspaper until the day after. I should have read Friday’s newspaper on Friday!
I mean, black slaves volunteering to fight for The Cause? That can't be true, can it?
Will be back later to ping the cavalry
Not in the fantasy world of those who have rewritten our history, no. There were no free blacks, either, and no blacks who were slaveowners. Everything's about the "white guilt" of people who probably aren't even descendants of slaveowners, at least not for a thousand years.
Our local independent weekly news, "The County Edge," put this event on the front page, but the kids took it and I didn't see it until too late. It was in the Monroe daily, too. History hasn't been changed much around here :-).
Since by definition slaves don't have a choice, perhaps they fought because they were told to?
A great many societies have used slave soldiers, with some major empires, such as the Mameluke and Ottoman, having been based on the institution for centuries.
The historical truth is that about 210,000 black men fought in the Union Army. About half were escaped or ex-slaves. Apparently these 100,000+ men weren't aware they were still considered slaves or that they weren't allowed to fight.
I know what you mean. I lived in Lucia for about 5 years. Got a friend of mine that's been in Mt. Holly most of his life.
"Weary Clyburn was best friends with his masters son, Frank. When Frank left the plantation to fight in the Civil War, Clyburn followed him."
"He fought alongside Frank and even saved his life on two occasions."
Typical yankee response. You guys have one version of antebellum South and that is of beatings, rape, inhumane labor, lynchings, etc.
It just doesn't fit your narrow minded views that blacks and whites were actually getting along just fine.
Answer this; once Weary was on the front lines, why didn't he run over to the yankees to be 'saved' from the terrible bondage and beatings that he must have been getting on a daily basis?
The historical truth is that the union didn't allow for the enlistment of blacks until the war was well under way and Lincoln was in a panic because things weren't going very well for the union.
The historical truth is that it took union congressional legislation to allow blacks to enlist.
Custer must have had an 'ethnic group' jinx. :~)
Did I say he was beaten? I said he had no free choice. That's what slavery is, by definition. The removal of free choice from a human.
Perhaps the "good master" is kind and asks the slave what he would prefer to do. If so, the asking of opinion and the granting or not of the slave's wish is still the master's choice. It can be revoked at his whim with no recourse to the slave.
Even when the slave loves his master, which many down through history indisputably have, there can be no argument that their free will, the indispensable characteristic of a fully human person, has been stolen from them.
"Weary Clyburn was best friends with his master’s son, Frank.
Quite possibly a true statement, although it would have been a rare southerner who would have publicly claimed a slave or any black man as his best friend. The southern obsession with keeping them in their place was with regard to intimations of social equality, not physical contact.
When Frank left the plantation to fight in the Civil War, Clyburn followed him.
Was Weary a true volunteer? Was it possible for Weary to be a true volunteer? If Frank told him to go to war, could he decide to stay on the plantation? If Frank told him to stay home, could he decide to follow Frank anyway? Was it possible for Weary to make a free choice about anything in his life?
And the confederacy didn't allow for the enlistment of blacks as combat troops until March 1865. Talk about too littl, too late.
The historical truth is that it took union congressional legislation to allow blacks to enlist.
No sh*t, Sherlock. All legislation is congressional legislation.
I'm gonna call 'Southron fairy tale' on that one. Got any details?
As it did in the Confederacy.
Union legislation to this effect - July 1862.
Confederate legislation - February 1865.
At which point things weren't going very well for the confederacy. There is very thorough documentation that Confederate enlistment of black soldiers was proposed and finally accepted only as the utter last gasp of desperation.
You seem to be suffering from the common delusion that anyone who thinks the Union cause was on balance the better must also believe that cause to be one of utter and complete goodness, with no racism or other unpleasant factors mixed in. Au contraire, I am fully aware that most whites of the time, north and south, were highly racist by today's standards.
I do not demonize the South. As Lincoln himself said, if I had been in their shoes, I would have not known how to get rid of slavery either. But I wouldn't have started proclaiming a great evil to be a positive good.
The Union was simply less racist than the Confederacy because it fought a great war, one of the causes of which was slavery and one of the consequences of which was the freeing of those slaves. One of, not THE cause.
Read the book “Nine April Days”.
I've read several books on the period. The fact of the matter is that the confederacy didn't enlist more than a handful of blacks for combat duty, a few hundred at most. There weren't enough of them to give Custer, or any other Union cavalry division, their "worst whup'n" of the war.
It actually passed a few weeks later, on March 13, 1865.
Mt. Holly is a really nice area. I’d like to move out to Gaston County, but it would be a long, long commute for my husband.