HOT BLAST: A slave goes to war
Sep 25, 2013 | 1416 views |  0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Reenactors of a Confederate artillery unit fire cannons during battle at the final day of the Blue Gray Alliance and Walker County Reenactment of the Battle of Chickamauga, held on the battle's 150th anniversary at Mountain Cove Farms last weekend in Walker County, Ga. (AP Photo/ Chattanooga Times Free Press, Maura Friedman)
Reenactors of a Confederate artillery unit fire cannons during battle at the final day of the Blue Gray Alliance and Walker County Reenactment of the Battle of Chickamauga, held on the battle's 150th anniversary at Mountain Cove Farms last weekend in Walker County, Ga. (AP Photo/ Chattanooga Times Free Press, Maura Friedman)
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The New York Times' Disunion series has a fascinating story of Sgt. Andrew M. Chandler, a Mississippian fighting for the South during the Civil War, and the slave named Silas who followed him to war.

The article finds:

Thousands of slaves served their masters and masters’ sons in the Confederate Army before and after the “Black Republican” in the White House, as some referred to President Abraham Lincoln, issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Many remained with their owners throughout the war.

Silas had known nothing but slavery his entire life. Born into bondage on the Chandler plantation in Virginia, he moved with the family to Mississippi when he was about 2. He was trained as a carpenter, and the Chandlers brought in extra income by hiring Silas out to locals in need of his skills — a common practice in the antebellum South. The money Silas earned by his labor was paid to the Chandlers, who gave him a small portion. According to a story passed down through Silas’s descendants, he saved the pennies that he received in a jar that he hid in a barn for safekeeping.



There's a recent update to the story:

In 1994, the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the United Daughters of the Confederacy conducted a ceremony at the gravesite of Silas in recognition of his Civil War service. An iron cross and flag were placed next to his monument.

The event prompted mixed reactions from descendants of Silas and Andrew. Silas’s great-granddaughter, Myra Chandler Sampson, denounced the ceremony as “an attempt to rewrite and sugar-coat the shameful truth about parts of our American history.” She added that Silas “was taken into a war for a cause he didn’t believe in. He was dressed up like a Confederate soldier for reasons that may never be known.”

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