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Searching for Black ConfederatesThe Civil War's Most Persistent Myth$
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Kevin M. Levin

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781469653266

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469653266.001.0001

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Camp Slaves and the Lost Cause

Camp Slaves and the Lost Cause

(p.68) Chapter Three Camp Slaves and the Lost Cause
Searching for Black Confederates

Kevin M. Levin

University of North Carolina Press

In the post war years and into the early 20th century, former camp slaves began attending veteran reunions. For example, Steve Perry was a former camp slave who regularly spoke at United Confederate Veterans reunions. Former camp slaves often told embellished or fictional tales of their time during the war and perpetuated the loyal slave narrative. The loyal slave narrative accompanied the shift in the messaging of Lost Cause adherents from claiming slavery was beneficial for the Black race to the war was about states’ rights instead of slavery. Paintings, popular prints, and stories of camp slaves found in magazines, published reminiscences of former Confederate soldiers, promoted the narrative that Black and white southerners were united in their fight against the Union. Sometime former slaves played characters that reinforced the idea that Black people were contentedly deferential to whites. Overall, the genial reception of camp slaves at Confederate veteran reunions was not indicative of actual race relations in the post-war south.

Keywords:   Loyal slave narrative, United Confederate Veterans, Steve Perry, Veterans reunions, Camp slave, Lost Cause narrative, Post-war south, Race relations

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