Monday, November 12, 2012

Civil War Vets

In honor of our veterans...

Montana’s earliest African American population carried the very real memories of slavery and its associated implications. Most of the first black Montanans were born into slavery or had parents or ancestors who were slaves. Many of them saw service during the Civil War. Upon President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, the Union stepped up its recruitment of black volunteers. By the end of the Civil War, roughly 179,000 black men, or 10 percent of the Union Army, had served as soldiers, and another 19,000 had served in the Navy. Nearly 40,000 black soldiers died over the course of the war—30,000 of them succumbed to infection or disease. Black volunteers did many necessary jobs and earned a salary of ten dollars a month, with three dollars deducted for clothing. White soldiers received thirteen dollars a month with no deductions. Three black Union veterans who later made their homes in Montana were Jack Taylor of Virginia City, Moses Hunter of Miles City, and James Wesley Crump of Helena. In the Union Army, Jack Taylor took care of officers’ horses and learned the craft of teamster. Moses Hunter reenlisted after the war, served in the Southwest, and by 1939, was eastern Montana’s only living Civil War veteran. James Crump lied about his age and joined the Union Army. When his superiors discovered he was only fourteen, he convinced them to let him serve out his three-year term as a drummer. Crump thus was the youngest Civil War veteran in Montana, and because of this, he often carried the flag in parades and proudly held the flag at the laying of the cornerstone of the Montana State Capitol in 1902.

A buffalo soldier at the dedication of the Montana State Capitol in 1902
Montana Historical Society Photograph Archives

P.S. Remember this invention by buffalo soldier William D. Davis?
P.P.S. What about Mingo Sanders and the soldiers of the Twenty-fifth Infantry?

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