Mar 222012

During the  Union County Commissioners meeting on Monday, March 20, Tony Way, an amateur historian and driven advocate for the monument to commemorate the service of African-Americans during the Civil War, finally got his day before the County Commissioners.

Charlotte Observer: Marker honoring slaves in Confederate Army moves closer to reality

Commissioners Simpson, Rogers and Kuehler voted to support the application to the Union County Historic Preservation Commission seeking the Certificate of Appropriateness for the monument. This formalizes the process and lifts the issue into the open.

I wrote the following story last July for the Union County Weekly.

Quest to honor black Confederate soldiers continues
Civil War buff just wants a vote from Commissioners

For more than a year, Tony Way has sought to memorize the service of African Americans from Union County who served during the Civil War. He was turned down by Union County Historic Preservation Commission, but Way feels he never got a fair vote before the county commissioners.

On May 3, 2010, Mr. Way made a slide presentation before the county commissioners, giving the historical background and outlining the significance the ten Confederate pensioners, who served as guards, cooks and in other field support roles.

“The purpose of the monument or marker is two fold, to recognize the contributions of overlooked African Americans within the Confederate armies during the War between the States, specifically these ten men who were pensioners of our county.” Way said, “Number two, to recognize the need that the history of Union County be all inclusive.”

“The current Confederate monument does not effectively do this in the cases of these men.” Way said, “This monument will represent hundreds of other nameless veterans of color.”

Mr. Way’s proposal is to place a four foot square granite marker in the brick sidewalk before the current Confederate Monument, located at the Old Courthouse in Monroe. The names of the ten black veterans would be listed on the plaque.

Way provided documentation on the service history and research for each pensioner, in addition to a mock-up of the proposed plaque.

On the advise of the staff attorney, Jeff Crook, Commissioner Allan Baucom made the motion to refer the question of the monument to the HPC; the vote was unanimous.

Five months later, Way received a letter from then interim County Manager Wes Baker, who wrote to say that the Historic Preservation Commission had completed an informal review of his proposal on Sept. 7, 2010, but for reason outlined in the letter, “the staff regrettably will be unable to recommend to the Board of Commissioners that the County seek a certificate of appropriateness for the monument on the grounds of the Historic Courthouse.”

“The Historic Preservation Commission indicated that there was already a Confederate monument to honor Union County residents who died in the Civil War. “ Baker stated, “Individual’s names that appear on the various war monuments/memorials located at the Historic Courthouse have been limited to those soldiers who died in service to their country.

According to Baker, the HPC did offer Mr. Way an alternative, “to memorialize these ten Confederate Pensioners of Color would be in a room dedicated to the Civil War and its role in Union County history, [a] room is proposed for the future museum in the Historic Courthouse.”

Way feels that Preservation Commission members did not give the proposal a fair hearing. “I feel that is would be a shame and do a disservice to memory of these men, not to do something” Way said, “I keep trying to explain to them [the HPC] that these ten people were different, nine of them were slaves”.

Way hopes to bring the issue before the current commissioners, sometime in the fall. “I spoke to [Commissioner] Jonathan Thomas” Way said, “he was very support of the idea.”

Quest to honor black Confederate soldiers continues | Union County Weekly.

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  3 Responses to “Quest to honor black Confederate soldiers continues”

  1. This debate over a marker to “honor” black slaves who fought as Confederate soldiers is truly a debate over perspectives. History teaches that slaves were just that, slaves. They were forced to be slaves, not asked, or they would have been called indentured servants. I find it odd that slaves would be classified as Confederate soldiers because they would have been fighting to preserve the continuance of southern slavery, going against one of the main aims of the war in that it was to abolish slavery. These black men were not Confederate soldiers, they were Confederate slaves for Confederate soldiers. What facts do we have that implies they were of their own free will fighting for the Confederacy in an effort to preserve slavery? What facts do we have that implies they were of their own free will Confederate soldiers? If in fact they chose of their own free will to join the Confederacy and fight as soldiers against the North, should this not be seen as a slap in the face to the black community as a whole – slaves fighting for the right to remain as slaves. Not too long ago there was the fight over the Confederate flag at the state house, namely because it offended the black community because the “stars and bars represent repression, brutality and inequality.” Shouldn’t those black leaders who fought so hard to remove the flag be standing up and speaking out against any monument that honors any slave who fought to preserve slavery, rather than fight back against the Confederacy in abolishing slavery? Doesn’t this really tarnish the fight against slavery in the mind of the black community? This is truly a dichotomy with regards to how these 10 slaves should be remembered. Should they be remembered as slaves who supported the fight to preserve slavery, or should they be remembered as slaves who fought as Confederate soldiers to preserve slavery? It is a unique piece of history that needs to be preserved, in a museum, just like the Confederate flag, but not on state property or city grounds with a marker.

    • Ok…so, how then, do you classify those who were drafted into service during the Vietnam War?

      Should those “soldiers” receive any less recognition or appreciation for their contribution because it was involuntary?

      The monument is about remembrance, recognition, and preservation of historical information not widely known nor easy to find. It is about discussion and understanding; about bringing cultures and customs to the public for further explanation.

      Thankfully, approval or not, Mr. Way has created dialogue and the interest for more knowledge. At the end of the day, that is the real purpose of a monument!

  2. you must have missed the part about states rights and unfair taxes (Morrill Tariff) levied against the south. And all that other stuff about statees rights.

    ALSO :
    “According to federal census reports, on June 1, 1860 there were nearly 4.5 million Negroes in the United States, with fewer than four million of them living in the southern slaveholding states. Of the blacks residing in the South, 261,988 were not slaves. Of this number, 10,689 lived in New Orleans. The country’s leading African American historian, Duke University professor John Hope Franklin, records that in New Orleans over 3,000 free Negroes owned slaves, or 28 percent of the free Negroes in that city.”……..
    In 1860 there were at least six Negroes in Louisiana who owned 65 or more slaves The largest number, 152 slaves, were owned by the widow C. Richards and her son P.C. Richards, who owned a large sugar cane plantation. Another Negro slave magnate in Louisiana, with over 100 slaves, was Antoine Dubuclet, a sugar planter whose estate was valued at (in 1860 dollars) $264,000 (3). That year, the mean wealth of southern white men was $3,978 (4)………………

    By Robert M. Grooms © 1997

    You need to do some of your own research instead of the black and white issues taught in pulbic schools that is contributiong to the division of races and prolonging racial unrest in this country.
    If you have ever traveled outside the US you would see that racism does not exist everywhere.
    It is taught in the US.

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