Friday, Feb. 13, 2015
Museum of Waxhaws remembers ex-slaves in Confederate Army
By John Anderson

The Museum of the Waxhaws will offer an interesting and thought-provoking program 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Feb. 21.

In conjunction with Black History Month, the museum will present insights and perspectives on African-Americans who fought in the Civil War – on the Confederate side.

Regular museum admission applies.

The documentary “Colored Confederates” will be shown at 10 a.m. and again at 12:30 p.m.

Earl Ijames, curator of community and black history at the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh, will introduce the film and be available to answer questions and moderate discussion.

Ijames wrote and produced the film.

A good portion of his documentary covers the Union County Confederate Pensioners of Color Monument dedication and interviews the two Union County people primarily responsible for getting the monument approved, Tony Way and Patricia Poland. It also provides additional examples of other blacks who served within the Confederacy.

At 11:30 a.m. that same day, Teresa E. Roane, archivist at the United Daughters of the Confederacy Library in Richmond, Va., will present “Minorities – Combat Support Confederate Army.” According to the UDC website, Roane earned a bachelor’s in history at Virginia Commonwealth University. Roane says that in her research of the National Archives she “has found numerous records of minorities serving in Confederate units.”

Patricia Poland, a genealogy & local history librarian with the Union County Public Library, will present “Finding Aaron Perry: A Union County Slave in the CSA,” at 2 p.m. on Feb. 21.

Perry is one of nine former slaves and one freedman who are memorialized on the marble monument outside the county courthouse in Monroe that is inscribed: “In Memory of Union County’s Confederate Pensioners of Color.”

Poland shared her thoughts in a blog, “Random Historical Notes for the City of Monroe & Union County, N.C.”

There I found an interesting account of Perry’s life before and after the Civil War. There was also a personal statement from Poland, where she writes, “My desire is to share small parts of the town’s history (and maybe even a little of the county too). I have a passion for ‘forgotten’ or ‘overlooked’ history.”

Poland has also been recognized for her research on Monroe’s role in the civil rights struggle.

At the museum, local historian Deacon Jones will be in period costume and character throughout the day. The James Miller Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp 2116 will present a display of Civil War artifacts. Members of the camp will elaborate on the significance of the items shown.

Sons of Confederate Veterans members Tony Way, Jack Clay and museum manager Cathy Wright worked several months assembling the elements of this program.

If this collaboration between the Sons of Confederate Veterans, black re-enactors and those in academics seems like an odd collection of bedfellows, consider the following:

In August of 2007, there was a ceremony to honor Wary (Weary), Clyburn, another Union County “colored Confederate.” Cliff Harrington, now the editor of Union News, wrote of Clyburn: “The obvious question is this: Why would a slave volunteer to fight on the side of people who held him in bondage? That’s a question that only Mr. Clyburn can answer.

“Too often when it comes to the Civil War and slavery, we hear versions of the truth that are woven from conjecture and narrow perspectives. It’s refreshing when you find the truth. This is it.

“Wary Clyburn was a brave and loyal hero. And he deserves to be honored by all of us.”

In that spirit, you are invited to attend a very special day at Museum of the Waxhaws.

On The Web: