The Line Between Soldier and Servant (Part 5) by Bill Vallante
It is often difficult to distinguish the dividing line between “soldier” and “servant”, for in many instances the line was blurred by the realities of war, the needs of the moment and the sentiments of the men who served. The story of Amos Rucker, of the 33rd Georgia infantry, is one such example. The term “soldier” when referring to a black man in the Confederate army is often scoffed at by modern day academic inbreds touting contemporary historical “wisdom”.
Perhaps these inbreds would do well to note the use of the word “soldier” or “veteran” by white Confederate veterans when referring to their black comrades?
AMOS RUCKER, THE NEGRO VETERAN.
There is an underlying note of tenderness in every heart, and it vibrates to the touch of real pathos, as a violin does to its bow. The story of Amos Rucker, the old negro veteran of Atlanta, carries its own moral. Amos belonged to the Rucker family, of Colbert County, Ga., belonged in a wider sense than as a mere human chattel that the slaves were said to be, for every joy or sorrow in "ole Marster’s" family touched its sympathetic chord in his heart. The children he watched grow up were as dear to him as his own, and "ole Miss" was always the pinnacle of all that was good in his eyes.
Amos was a young man at the time of the war, and when "Marse Sandy Rucker" went to the front, Amos went too, just as proud as was that young soldier of his "marster’s" gray uniform and brass buttons.
In all those long, hard years the 33d Georgia Regiment bore its part in the bloody struggle, and there was no braver member than Sandy Rucker, and shoulder to shoulder with him fought Amos, as though he too was an enlisted man. He took part in every engagement, and, gun or bayonet in hand, stood ready to "close up" whenever there was a vacancy in the line. The cause of the Confederacy was his, because his master had espoused it first, then it was his from the love he came to bear the flag, and no truer, more loyal heart beat under the gray than that of Amos Rucker.
He joined the Camp of W. H. T. Walker, and there was no more loved nor respected member than the black, whose bowed form and snow white hair showed the passing of the years so plainly. He attended every meeting till the one before his death, when he sent word to the Camp that he was too ill to attend, and added: "Give my love to the boys."
He went to all the Reunions whenever possible, and here he attracted much attention. He was very proud to show off a wonderful feat of memory, for he could call the roll of his old company from A to Z, and he would add in solemn tones "here" or "dead" as the names left his lips.
The people who had had his lifetime devotion took care of both the old man and his wife. As he said: "My folks give me everything I want." At his death in Atlanta in August, 1909, there was universal sorrow. His body lay in state, and hundreds of both white and black stood with bared head to do him honor. Camp Walker defrayed all burial expenses, buying a lot in the cemetery especially for him, so that the old man and his wife could lie side by side. The funeral services were conducted by Gen. Clement A. Evans, the Commander in Chief of the Veterans, and his volunteer pallbearers were ex Gov. Allen D. Candler, Gen. A. J. West, ex Postmaster Amos Fox, F. A. Hilburn, Commander of Camp Walker, J. Sid Holland, and R. S. Osbourne. Very tenderly they carried the old veteran to his grave, clothed in his uniform of gray and wrapped in a Confederate flag, a grave made beautiful by flowers from comrades and friends, among which a large design from the Daughters of the Confederacy was conspicuous in its red and white.
A simple monument will be erected to the faithful soldier by the white comrades of his Camp and from contributions from his many friends in Atlanta
Copyright © 2003-2010, GeorgiaHeritageCouncil.org