African-American Confederate soldier honored

By Eric Hudson

The local chapter of the Sons of Confederate Soldiers has marked the grave of an African-American soldier who fought for the Confederacy more than 140 years ago.

Amos Rucker, a former slave who fought for the South, was laid to rest after his death in 1905, but the grave was never marked, Confederate historians say.

“It is no difference if he was white or black. All I see is that he wore gray. These men left their homes and their families for four years to fight and many of them did not return,” said Kelly Barrow, author of “Black Soldiers in Confederate Armies.”

Rucker’s tombstone , in the South View Cemetery on Jonesboro Road, has Rucker’s name printed on it along with the words “Confederate Soldier” and a Confederate flag.

“He was buried in 1905, but he didn’t have a headstone,” said Brigade Commander Sparks Ramey of the Sons of Confederate Soldiers.

According to Curtis Harris of the Herndo Heritage Museum in Florida, Rucker served in the 33rd Georgia infantry. He served as a combat soldier until severe wounds to his leg left him permanently crippled, Harris said.

“We found where he had been buried and had a dedication service,” said Ramey.

Ramey said when visitors arrived to the 11 a.m. ceremony, the new tombstone was covered by the Confederate flag. After a 21-gun salute, the tombstone was revealed.

Ramey said the number of African Americans who fought for the Confederacy is debatable.

“I have seen books that say there were up to 90,000,” said Ramey. “I don’t know if it was that high, but in the National Archives you can find quite a few. There were a lot more than most people think there were.”

Barrow said it was difficult to tell how many blacks served the Confederate Army because many of them served in a support role and not on the front line. Barrow said Rucker was born a slave, but still served in the war after his owner died and Rucker was a free man.