One of the great myths of the Lost Cause and its “Confederate heritage” advocates today is the loyal slave. Gone with the Wind has a classic example, and the always excellent blog Dead Confederates gives us a newer example. All of which is to say that I was thinking about these supposedly loyal slaves while looking at one of our site’s newest media objects, the Confederate government form below.
Dated May 1864, it represents Confederate private Lycurgus Rees‘s request for an exemption from military service based on his ownership of “fifteen able-bodied slaves.” This was all by-the-book, but Rees’s wife, Sarah Jane, submitted to the local justice of the peace a separate affidavit requesting her husband’s exemption in light of her duty to care for her seven children and, she wrote, her need for “the protection of a white man, and aid in the management of the negroes” because she lived “in a community where there is a heavy black population but few white males.”
But if the slaves were loyal to the cause, per the experience of Scarlet O’Hara, then what on earth did Sarah Jane have to fear?
IMAGE: A screen shot from the film Gone with the Wind (1939) in which loyal slaves march off to labor for the Confederate army