My Life as a Black Civil War Living Historian—part five

part five in a series

When Kevin and I joined the 54th Mass. Co. B, the 3rd USCT, and the 37th USCT in the 150th Anniversary of DC Emancipation Day on April 16, 2012, it was another very hot day!  We parked about half of a mile from the start of the parade and about a mile and a quarter from the end of it. After that parade, we went to lunch and had some ice cold drinks at a local restaurant. It was a good time for comradery and cooling off! You have to get used to that but remember the actual soldiers did that in their day. Today, we can go to our air conditioned homes in our air conditioned cars, the real soldiers had no air conditioners!

I will mention some of the events that I have participated in and attach the accompanying pictures. 

This picture is from our first major event, the 2011 Battle of Spotsylvania Court House reenactment:

Steward-RossersCav

The 23rd USCT uniform contingent consisted of me and our two white officers, Captain John Cummings, left, and Lieutenant Jimmy Price. There are several Confederate cavalry members behind us, as John was able to “persuade” them to represent captured soldiers from Thomas Rosser’s cavalry. I talked to many people about the 23rd USCT on this day.

This next picture is taken at Bethel Baptist Church of Culpeper, VA, during Black History month in 2012:

Steward-BethelBaptist

At the church programs, I give a short talk about the history of the 23rd, then turn the service over to Rev. Hashmel Turner, our Chaplain and Color Sgt., who preaches the sermon. In this picture, we are saluting the veterans from the congregation. Those veterans were from several wars, from World War II through Iraq.

On March 31st 2012, we were the honor guard for General U. S. Grant, at the grand opening of the Museum of the Confederacy–Appomattox, in the procession and for the signing of the surrender.

Steward-Appomattox

We were joined by members of the 54th Mass. Co. B for this program. I am going back to the museum on August 14th of this year to give a talk on the United States Colored Troops.

Here, we join the 54th Mass. Co. B and the Sons of the Union Veterans (SUV) to dedicate a brand new USCT statue in Lexington Park, MD on June 16, 2012:

Steward-Lexington

It was a big celebration topped off by the SUV ceremonial dedication with a 3 volley gun salute by the reenactors/living historians. You may also notice a white-bearded gentleman in the black suit and top hat, he is our abolitionist senator and recruiter for the 23rd USCT, James Anderson. So when we go to an event, we try to cover all of the bases with our unit and James has been to almost every event.

Our next photo was made to look as if it were taken in the 1860’s:

Steward-Crater

We were at the 2012 Battle of the Crater Reenactment, where we actually portrayed a portion of the battle. We nor the Confederates were firing at each other, but some people thought so. There were so few “soldiers” that it merely seemed like a firing demonstration–with the exception that you were loading and firing like you would in a battle. This was the first time I actually fired my musket as if I were fighting in a battle. It was exciting to me, however.

The final picture is a picture that appeared on television and was sent to us minutes after we finished marching in President Obama’s second Inaugural Parade in January of this year.

Steward-Inauguration

Several members of the 23rd joined the 54th Mass. Co. B, along with the 3rd USCT, to add to the numbers of the 54th Massachusetts Co. B. We were actually the second company of the 54th to march in the parade; Co. A from Boston marched earlier. However, when we passed the President’s box, we saluted the president.  To our surprise, the president and many in the box stood and saluted us in return.

Next: two moments that gave me the most pride and the event that gave me the most excitement

About stewardthenderson

Civil War historian at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park and living historian with the 23rd Regiment USCT and 54th Massachusetts Infantry Co. B. I am also a member of the Trail to Freedom Committee in the Fredericksburg, VA area and a member of the John J. Wright Museum in Spotsylvania, VA.
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2 Responses to My Life as a Black Civil War Living Historian—part five

  1. Rhonda Reid says:

    Did you do reenactment for the 3rd USCT and is this the 3rd South Carolina Infantry?

  2. Hello Rhonda, no we did not do a reenactment for the 3rd USCT and the 3rd USCT is not the 3rd South Carolina Infantry. The 3rd USCT was organized at Camp William Penn near Philadelphia, PA, but they served in South Carolina at the captures of Forts Wagner and Gregg. The 23rd USCT has marched in parades with the 3rd USCT since 2011. We have reenacted with the 3rd US Regulars, a white reenactment unit, who have graciously drilled us and lets us fight in battles with them. The 3rd US Regulars that we have worked with are from companies B and K.

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