Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Another one of those "pesky" black Confederates.

 I came across this newspaper piece while researching Civil War Charlotte, and I thought I would share. Make sure you see my comments below.

Old Negro in Destitute Circumstances.

   William Winters, a mulatto about 70 years old and helpless, lies at his home on Poplar street, between Trade and Fourth streets, in destitute circumstances. Winter has had a rather interesting career. He was born a free negro and during the war was a soldier in the Confederate forces. He left home as the valet and cook for Col. Charles Fisher, of the Sixth North Carolina Regiment, who was killed in the first battle of Manassas. Winters was with Col. Fisher when he was shot and assisted in getting him off the field. He remained with the Confederate army during the war and afterwards cooked in Charlotte hotels and cafes until about 10 years ago when he became too feeble to work. He has always been a good negro and has had many friends among the white people, especially among the old veterans. (Charlotte Observer 01.04.1906)

Now I know that this type of story is not popular among certain groups of historians. Regardless of the predisposed assumption that there no blacks in the Confederate army, they did exist, as evidenced by the story above. Of course, I have frequently mentioned the Cousins/Cozzens brothers of Watauga County, who served in the 37th NCT. Franklin Cozzens a free mulatto, voluntarily enlisted in the Confederate army and was killed at Second Manassas in August 1862. Unlike Franklin and William Henry Cozzens,  William Winters does not appear to have a compiled service record. Many would argue that since he spent the war working as a cook, he was not a legitimate soldier. That's an old (obsolete?) argument. William Henry Cozzens served most of the War as a teamster, and when it came time to apply for a pension, he had no problems obtaining one. I could find no pension for Winters, nor do I know of the disposition of his remains. It will be an interesting story to follow.

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