Confederate unit flag raised at black soldier’s gravesite

By JUSTIN BAILEY, Morning News

DARLINGTON –Despite drizzling rain and an overcast sky, celebratory spirits could not be dampened as Darlington officials and Civil War re-enactment soldiers gathered to honor Henry "Dad" Brown at his Darlington grave site Thursday.

Mayor Ronnie Ward, Darlington County Councilwoman Willamina Johnson and members of the 37th Texas Calvary re-enactment unit were in attendance to raise a 21st S.C. Voluntary Infantry unit flag at Brown’s grave.

Brown was a free black man who voluntarily served as a Confederate soldier in the Civil War as a drummer in the 21st S.C. Voluntary Infantry unit. Brown went with the Darlington Guards to Charleston in 1861. When that outfit disbanded, he went to the front in Virginia where he served in both the 8th and 21st Regiments.

His role as drummer was crucial to field operations of his unit when in battle. Through his drum roles and cadences, he would signal orders given by commanding officers to the troops in combat. Drummers were needed because the roar of the cannon and rifle fire and smoke from the battle would often drown out spoken orders and obscure vision on the battlefield.

"Dad Brown was a man of vision, honor and integrity," said 1st Sgt. Bob Harrison of the 37th Texas Calvary. "As Southerners, no matter if you’re black or white or whatever, we can work together. That’s the lesson Dad Brown shares with all of us today."

Johnson echoed a similar sentiment during the ceremony.

"When we look at the world, we must live as one," she said. "We have to live together. Dad Brown saw it like that and lived that way. Let us live and do what we can.

"You want to live your life so that there’s something left for people to remember. One hundred years later (after his death), and we’re still finding ways to remember him. He did what he had to do, and he did it his way."

John Touchberry of Hartsville attended the ceremony. Several of his ancestors were Confederate soldiers.

"It’s just people getting together to honor someone of a different race who served (in the Confederacy)," he said. "It hasn’t anything to do with racism. I call it heritage. It’s about patriotism and honoring a patriot."

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