A Tribute To The Man In Black
Comrade C. C. Cumming of Fort Worth, Texas, writes that Bob and Alf Taylor have just passed through the Fort in their double role of "Yankee Doodle and Dixie," and a crowded house greeted them, laughing and crying alternately at the comedy and tragedy of the "Old South" crucified under the Southern Cross, "for," as Bob says, so truly, "it is the old, old South, with the print of the nails of its crucifixion in its hands." He brought to the memory of the gray heads the old "Black Mammy," and spoke of the monument in the future that would be erected to her memory for her faithfulness before and during the great struggle. This revives the memory of a faithful man in black who followed me through from First Manassas, Leesburg, where he assisted in capturing the guns we took from Baker, to the Peninsular, the Seven Days before Richmond, Fredericksburg, the bombardment of the city December 11, and the battle, two days after, at Marye’s Heights; to Chancellorsville, the storming of Harper’s Ferry, and the terrible struggle at Sharpsburg (Antietam now), and last, Gettysburg. Here he lost his life by his fidelity to me-his “young marster" and companion. We were reared together on "de ole plantation" in “Massippi."
I was wounded in the Peach Orchard at Gettysburg on the second day. The fourth day found us retreating in a cold, drizzling rain. George had found an ambulance, in which I, Sergeant Major of the Seventeenth Mississippi, and Col. Holder of that regiment, still on this side of the river, and an officer of the Twenty-first Mississippi, whose name escapes me, embarked for the happy land of Dixie. All day long we moved slower than any funeral train over the pike, only getting eight miles-to Cashtown. When night came I had to dismount from loss of blood and became a prisoner in a strange land. On the next day about sundown faithful George, who still clung to me, told me that the yankees were coming down the road from Gettysburg and were separating the "black folks from dar marsters" that he didn’t want to be separated from me and for me to go on to prison and he’d slip over the mountains and join the regiment in retreat, and we’d meet again "ober de ribber," meaning the Potomac. We had crossed at Williamsport.
I insisted on George accepting his freedom and lining a settlement of free negroes in the vicinity of Gettysburg, which we had passed through in going up to the battle. But he would have none of it he wanted to stay with me always. I had him hide my sword, break it off at the hilt and stick it in crack of the barn (that yet stands in the village) to the left of the road going away from Gettysburg, where I, with about thirty other wounded, lay. I can yet see that faithful black face and the glint of the blade as the dying rays of that day’s sun flashed upon them. A canteen of water and some hard tack was the last token of his kindly care for me.
In the spring of 1865, I saw a messmate from home I was separated on that battlefield, and he told me the fate of poor, faithful George. He had gotten through the lines safely and was marching in the rear of our retreating command, when met by Northern lady who had a son in our command, whom George, by chance, happened to know. He was telling her of her son, who was safe as a prisoner, when some men in blue came up. George ran and they shot and killed him. He was dressed in gray and they took him for a combatant. The lady had him buried and then joined her son in prison. She told my messmate of this and he told to the boys in camp the fate of the truest and best friend I ever had. George’s prediction will come true-I feel we will meet again "over the river."
From Volume IV, 1896, page 153, Confederate Veterans Magazine
Compiled Editions for The National Historical Society