Black History Month and “Civil War Memory”

by Bill Vallante

5 Short Excerpts: The Loyal – and the Not-So Loyal

It’s 4 in favor and one against – Send these stories to your liberal friends – along with some paper bags for when they start to hyperventilate.

301 Confederate Veteran September 1896.

-In regard to the loyalty of the slaves, be it said to their eternal credit, no race was ever more loyal and helpful than they, during those four years of bloody strife. They took special pride in the feeling that they were the only protectors of the mistress at home during the absence of her natural protector and guardian.

-A certain lady was told that her Negroes were holding nightly meetings in her kitchen, and it was suspected that they were making arrangements to desert the enemy. One night, a low, earnest sound was heard from that locality. Creeping softly along to hear what the conspiracy might be, the mistress found the entire group of Negroes on their knees, while one of them was offering up an earnest petition to the "Fader in Hebben," and praying Him to "bress missis and de chillun, an pertickler de youngmasters in de wah."

-A ten dollar Confederate bill is now kept as a memento of an old nurse who, after the war, brought it to her mistress to "he’p ‘er ter git along."

-An old negro man who had been his master’s body servant, brought a store of provisions and laying it before his former owner, said: "Marster, it mos’ breaks my heart to see yo’ an’ ole miss in dis yere shanty, but ‘would break ‘tirely to know yo’ was hongry an’ couldn’t git nuffin to eat."

His master, brushingthe tears from his eyes, said: "Tom, I can’t take these things from you and leave you and your children to starve." The faithful old man replied: "No danger o’ dat, Marster, Tom is used to helpin’ hisself, but you an’ ole miss nebber could do dat." The master, greatly touched by this show of affectionate gratitude, said: "Tom, we have fallen upon evil days, but perhaps I may live to repay you for your kindness." Lord, Marster, replied the old man, "You’s done dat time an’ agin fur all dese years, an’ I’se sho’ it’s my time to tek keer o’ yo’ an’ ole miss."

-The negresses would sell any of their home products for finery. A veil with these dusky dames would bring any amount in butter, eggs or chickens, the blacker the skin, the more ardent the desire to "dress like de white folks." When the Federal Army was leaving Columbia, a number of the Negroes followed, some of them going in their Masters’ carriages. One old dame thus seated, dressed in all the finery she could lay her hands on including a white lace veil and fanning herself vigorously with a huge palmetto fan, although it was February, was met by an acquaintance, who hailed her after this fashion, "Hello. Aunt Sallie, whar yo’ gwine?" Nodding her head with a patronizing air, she answered, "Lor’, honey, I’se gwine back inter de Union." And she got there. In less than six months afterwards, word came back to Columbia that she was "doing time in a prison for pilfering from her Northern mistress."