Black History Month and “Civil War Memory”

by Bill Vallante

It’s My Heritage


Say the word “Heritage” to most Americans who have been raised in parts of the country other than the South and what you’ll usually get is a blank stare. To an outsider I suppose, it isn’t easy to understand. It appears though that Allen Price had a good understanding of its importance. But then, Allen was a Southerner!

Allen Price, Texas, (The Slave Narratives)

"Dese things am handed down to me by de Price family and my granddaddy. De Price family done fight for de Confed’racy all de way down de line of de family, to my own pappy, who went with he master when dey calls for volunteers to stop de blockade of Galveston. "My master think he gwine ‘scape de worst of de war when he come to Texas and dey am livin’ peaceable de year I’m born, raisin’ cotton. Dey had a gin what my pappy worked in, and makes dey own clothes, too, when de Yankees has de Texas ports blockade so de ships can’t git in. When dey blockades Galveston, our old master done take my pappy for bodyguard and volunteers to help. Fin’ly Gen. Magruder takes Galveston from de Yankees with two old cotton steamers what have cotton bales on de decks for breastworks.

"De last battle Master Price and my pappy was in, was de battle of Sabine Pass, and de Yankee general, Banks, done send ’bout five thousand troops on transports with gunboats, to force a landin’. Capt. Dick Dowling had forty-seven men to ‘fend dat Pass and my pappy helped build breastworks when dem Yankees firin’. Capt. Dowling done run dem Yankees off and takes de steamer Clinton and ’bout three hundred and fifty prisoners. My pappy told me some de Captain’s men didn’t have real guns, dey have wood guns, what dey call cam’flage nowadays.

"My pappy helped at de hospital after dat battle, and dey has it in a hotel and makes bandages out of sheets and pillow cases and underwear, and uses de rugs and carpets for quilts. "I ‘member dis song, what dey sing all de time after de war:

"O, I’m a good old Rebel, and dat’s jus’ what I am, And for dis land of freedom, I do not give a damn; I’m glad we fought again ’em, and only wish we’d won, And I ain’t asked no pardon for anything I’ve done. "I won’t be reconstructed, I’m better dan dey am, And for a carpetbagger. I do not give a damn. So I’m off to de frontier, soon as I can go – I’ll fix me up a weapon and start for Mexico! "I can’t get my musket and fight dem now no more, But I’m not goin’ to love dem. dat am certain sho’- I don’t want no pardon for what I was or am, I won’t be reconstructed, and I don’t give a damn.

"I has mighty little to say ’bout myself. I’s only a poor Baptist preacher. De her’tage handed down to me am de proudes’ thing I knows. De Prices was brave and no matter what side, dey done fight for dey ‘lief in de right.