My Life as a Black Civil War Living Historian—conclusion

final part in a series

Going forward, I know that I have two more years of many events to go before the end of the Sesquicentennial. I have two main objectives that I want to accomplish:

  • To reenact the 23rd’s march from the Chancellorsville ruins to the intersection of Catharpin and Old Plank Roads and form a battle line–with at least 100 Union soldiers, mostly USCTs, and have a living history program at those Chancellorsville ruins, once the march is completed. This would be in commemoration of the encounter at that intersection on May 15, 1864, between the USCT and Tom Rosser’s Confederate cavalry—the first time black troops engaged in combat against the Army of Northern Virginia.
  • To have a statue erected of the 23rd USCT, preferably on the Chancellorsville Battlefield, either at the ruins or on the way down Old Plank Road. Since we have been in existence, we have helped with the installation of an exhibit marker on the Catharpin Road at the Wilderness Elementary School grounds–telling the story of the 23rd USCT, as a portion of the Spotsylvania County African American History Trail.

I still have to go out to speak about the USCT in general and the 23rd specifically, so that everyone knows that many black people fought for our freedom during the Civil War. Our freedom was not handed to us, as many people have been taught.

This has been a labor of love, and I think that I was destined to do my part: from my first memory of being on top of Marye’s Heights in the Fredericksburg Battlefield in 1958, to my coming to work at the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, to my most recent talk to the Sons of the Union Veterans on May 23rd, 2013, to me completing this post. I think that I was placed here–at this time–to represent and tell the story of the 23rd Regiment United States Colored Infantry!

4 Responses to My Life as a Black Civil War Living Historian—conclusion

  1. Great Series Steward. I really enjoyed it. It was also nice meeting you a couple of weeks ago at the Chancellorsville VC. I was asking you about the many versions of the Jackson’s wounding and inadvertently made you late for starting the film. Then you actually went to the trouble to come and find me outside to finish the conversation……much appreciated. Good luck on your two goals.

    Jeff Nelson

  2. Thank you, Jeff. I am glad that we spoke, the best part of our job is to actually talk about the battles, personalities, and assist descendants in finding where their ancestors fought. Come back to visit Chancellorsville again, as well as our other three battlefields, Fredericksburg, Wilderness, and Spotsylvania Court House. Look me up, if I am working the day when you visit. You may have to remind me about our previous conversation, but I will be happy to speak with you again.

  3. After talking with my cousin, William “Billy” Campbell, Jr., about my series, he reminded me of our membership in the organization that his father and my uncle, William “Mac” Campbell, Sr., founded – The Organization of Afro American Culture (OAAC). I sometimes talk about this group, when I talk privately to people. It was founded, I believe in 1967, when our generation of “neighborhood kids” were all teenagers. Mac and Juanita (his wife and my aunt) took us into their house and taught us the history and culture of Afro Americans (the term for blacks at that time, from), from Africa to the present. The group was in existence until the mid seventies, when we had become adults, went to work, and went our separate ways. Mac, also went around to the Washington, DC public schools to present black history programs and his paintings to the school children, yes, he was an artist as well. He made many black children proud of their heritage, until his death.

    Mac and my father, Steward Henderson, were the first two people who got me involved in history before I studied history in school. I decided to study Civil War history, as a result of my visits to the battlefields of Fredericksburg and Gettysburg!

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