The Union County Historic Preservation Commission voted unanimously Thursday to approve a plan for a privately funded marker to honor 10 black men, nine of whom were slaves, who eventually received small state pensions for their Civil War service.
It will be one of the few public markers of its kind in the country, and arrives in the midst of state and national commemorations of the Civil War’s sesquicentennial. The granite marker will be placed on a brick walkway at the Old County Courthouse in Monroe in front of the 1910 Confederate monument.
“I’m glad to see Union County is finally stepping out of the Jim Crow era and being all-inclusive of its history,” said Tony Way, the local amateur historian and Sons of Confederate Veterans member who has led the push for the project…
In pension applications, all 10 men were described as “body servants” or bodyguards. They hauled water, carried supplies and helped build forts. Two were wounded.
I have mixed feelings about this kind of news. On the one hand, slaves were brought along to the front lines, and no doubt they made their contributions. Their descendants certainly seem thrilled at the gesture. But such a monument, championed by the SCV, leaves a bitter aftertaste of pandering, particularly when one reads what kind of duties are being honored with bronze. Methink they doth celebrateth too much.