Lest We Forget - African American Military History by Researcher, 
					Author and Veteran Bennie McRae, Jr.

Union U.S.C.T. Headstones

Union U.S.C.T. Headstones

Alexandria National Cemetery
Pineville, Louisiana

 

Asa Gordon's (Secretary General, Sons & Daughters of the United States Colored Troops - S&DUSCT ) address (Sun. June 16, 2002, 1:15pm)

We are gathered here today to dedicate replacement Union headstones to commemorate Americans of African descent interred in this National Cemetery, and to honor their service to the United States of America in The War of the Rebellion in the cause of a nation conceived in Liberty. These replacement Union markers redeem their blasphemed spirits from the recent desecration of their final resting place by the sacrilege of Confederate headstones that marked service to the Confederate States of America (CSA) in the cause of racial supremacy [and dedicated to their perpetual slavery].

 

These Union Gravestones recognize the service of Free blacks and enslaved blacks who became soldiers that fought in the Civil War on two fronts. They fought on the front lines against a common enemy to liberate their people, and they fought in the rear against their allies for the future of their Civil Rights. Their cause transformed the Civil War.

Harriet Tubman anticipated that transformation and declared:

 

"God's ahead oh Massa Linkum, God -won't let Massa Linkum beat de South till he do de right ting "

[President Lincoln was to "do the right thing" and issue the Emancipation Proclamation which included a provision  for the enlistment of freed blacks and free blacks to effect the proclamation.]

 

On May 22, 1863, Lincoln was to "do the right thing" and by General Order 143 of the Secretary of War establish a bureau for the organization of the United States Colored Troops (USCT).

The transformation in the war's aim was expressed in Abraham Lincoln's address at the dedication of a National Cemetery on Nov. 19, 1863, [as recorded on the black marker behind me], at the site of the Battle of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania. Lincoln finally realized there could be no national union, the nation could not long endure unless the war's cause was reborn and became the cause of the nation's blacks, and their cause the basis for reunion. In his address Lincoln promised :

 

"that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom "

 

What Lincoln promised at Gettysburg, the USCT would deliver.

 

[The Causes of the USCT transformed the Union army of reunion into an army of liberation.]

 

Civil War historiographers have declared that the battle at Gettysburg was the turning point of the war, This assessment denies the triumph of the human sprit over the marshal arts.

The tide of the Civil War did not turn in the battle of Gettysburg. The high water mark of that war, was not determined on the field of battle, but in the hearts of man. The tide of the Civil War turned, when the object of that war turned, when that war turned away from the self absorbed preoccupation of the prerogatives of a privileged race, into righteous indignation to the negation of humanity to a downtrodden race.

On one crucial matter, north and south began the Civil War on the same page. It was "A white man's war'. In the end, it was the cause of free and enslaved blacks that turned that page (to a new chapter in the Civil War) and forced the War's transformation..

The Civil War was won, when the battle to keep it a White Man's war was lost.

By 1864 Abraham Lincoln acknowledged that without the labor and fighting power of blacks "We can not longer maintain the contest... We would be compelled to abandon the war."

 

All of the soldiers we honor here today saw service in the: Appomattox Campaign March 28-April 9. Fall of Petersburg April 2. Pursuit of Lee April 3-9. Appomattox Court House April 9. Surrender of Lee and his army.

A (Allen Hamilton) - Co. F. (stone no. B1793)
A (Abraham Malona/ Millone) - Co. C. (stone no. B1838)

Were formally Enslaved blacks of the 109th Regiment, United States Colored Infantry Organized at Louisville, Ky., July 5, 1864.

Colonel Thomas Wentworth Higginson [an abolitionist who commanded the 1st South Carolina Infantry of African Descent and wrote of his experiences in 'Army Life in a Black Regiment'] recorded in his diary a sermon delivered by Private Thomas Long, selected to perform the duties of a lay chaplain for the regiment's religious services. He articulated the aspirations of the black soldiers just out of slavery:

 

If we handt become sojers, ah might have gone back as it was before; our freedom might have slipped through de two houses of Congress and President Linkum's four years might have passed by and notin' been done for us, But now tings can neber go back, because we have showed our energy and our courage and our naturally manhood

 

Anoder ting is, suppose you had kept your freedom witout enlisting in dis army; your chilen might have grown up free and been well cultivated so as to be equal to any business, but it would have been always flung in dere faces -- "Your fader never fought for he own freedom" - and what could dey answer! Neber can say that to dis African Race any more.

 

A. Bevins - Co. B (stone no. B1841)
(James) Mclellan Co. H (stone no. B2002)
John Jones - Co. B (stone no. B2003)

Were Free blacks of the 8th Regiment, United States Colored Infantry, Organized at Camp William Penn, Philadelphia, Pa., September 22 to December 4, 1863,

They also participated in the assault at New Market Heights, Virginia, September 29, 1864, [this battle took on a unique importance because it proved that black soldiers would continue to fight bravely after losing their white officers. This theory had replaced the racist theory that black soldiers would run from their former masters, but this was dispelled by the assaults at Port Hudson and Milliken's Bend. The battle at New Market was a battle] wherein five USCT soldiers were all Medal of Honor Recipients with the Citation: "Took command of his company, all officers having been killed or wounded, and gallantly led it."

Frederick Douglass articulated the aspirations of the free black soldiers:

 

"Once let the black man get upon his person the brass letters 'US', let him get an eagle on his button and a musket on his shoulder and bullets in his pockets and there is no power on earth which can deny that he has earned the right of citizenship in the United States."

 

REDEMPTION

Today we commemorate the spirit by which their cause for emancipation and equal rights became the resurrection of the nation's cause for "a new birth of freedom" and we honor their sacrifice that consecrated the redemption of "a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition, that all men are created equal".


Category: Civil War | Subcategory: Resting Places | Tags: Virginia , South Carolina , Louisiana , alexandria
Related Topics / Keywords / Phrases: 1793, 1838, 1841, 1863, 1864, 2002, 2003, Abraham Lincoln, Appomattox Campaign, Ark, Army, Battle of Gettysburg, Civil War, DE, Gettysburg (Pennsylvania), Hood, John, Jones, Lincoln, Louisiana, Louisville (Kentucky), Medal of Honor, Nevill, OH, Old, Pennsylvania, Petersburg (Virginia), Pursuit of Lee, South Carolina, Surrender of Lee, The War of the Rebellion (Book), United States Colored Infantry, Virginia,