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AfriGeneas Military Research Forum

Confederate Pension Records a resource?

Well it DOES seem to have struck a particularly sensitive spot with you

Aside from the provocative lead/title "Black Confederate Pension Records Are a Controversial Resource for African American Researchers"

There was nothing controversial in the article, nor in the idea of accessing these records which may help some connect slaves with "last owner".

The article seemed very clear that it was primarily slaves getting these pensions
"The Confederate Pension files hold the names of the slaves and the names of any Confederate the slave was sent to serve. Often the surname of the slave and his "master" were different. This gives an excellent clue to the researcher as to the surname of the possible slave owner. "
and that
"Black men performed many duties for the South during the war. They earned pensions for serving as teamsters, shoemakers, breastworks builders, drummers, nurses, laborers, servants, and musicians. The most common roles were body servant and cook. There are also pension applications for "private soldier." At least three of these were filed in South Carolina by African-Americans. "

The article made no claims for "motive" for their actions, nor made any attempt to glamorize/glorify them.

The civil war was by far the bloodiest of any in US history

Slaves were there --- fact of history. I have read several accounts of "loyal" servants who stayed by their "master's side" throught the war or unr\til they accompanied his corpse home. And since the confederate army was smaller than the Union I assume that they used forccd labor any time they could get it.

If anything, I was surprised that these "loyal" slaves got any pensions and the article acknowledged that "African-Americans were not eligible to apply for the Confederate Pensions until much later than white veterans; some became eligible for pensions as late as 1923. " so most of them didn't get any -- if they were 20 or older in 1865 they would have been 55 and up in 1900 and dying out already!)

The author mentions "For researchers, the painful idea that some Blacks were "loyal" to the Confederacy may be a reason not to venture into these records" but I think most researchers realize that the nature of slavery REQUIRED slaves to perform duties for their "master" under threat of punishment and it most often was not a case of loyalty to the confederacy -- although in some few cases it may have been personal loyality to an individual.

So I say "Go for it" and leave no stone unturned! Especially f you have stories of civil war action in the oral tradition.

CSA pensions were state administered and therefore different for every state.

I checked on google but, I couldn't find many indexed for "colored" or any estimates of the numbers but
for Tennessee

state links below

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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