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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 Pensions

Camp Slaves and Pensions

(p.100) Chapter Four Camp Slaves and Pensions
Searching for Black Confederates

Kevin M. Levin

University of North Carolina Press

Around 2,800 former camp slaves received pensions from former Confederate states. Although the total number was relatively small, these men remained a potent symbol within the Lost Cause narrative, shaping Southern memories of the war well into the twentieth century. The push to pension former camp slaves was mostly sustained by Confederate veterans and enslavers who had interacted extensively with camp slaves. These veterans often argued for pensions for loyal slaves who were now impoverished, illustrating that financial assistance relied on Black people complying with their position at the bottom of the racial hierarchy. Sumner Archibald Cunningham, who oversaw the publication of Confederate Veteran magazine from 1893 until his death in 1913, was perhaps the most important voice in the argument for camp slave pensions. People often point to the existence of pensions for the formerly enslaved as evidence of Black Confederate soldiers, however, no documentation regarding pensions acknowledges Black men as soldiers.

Keywords:   Pensions, Veterans, Sumner Archibald Cunningham, Camp slave, Southern memories, Confederate Veteran magazine

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