The Rebel Yell!
Civil War Soldier’s Mess-Hardtack

Black Confederate grave in Charleston Neck a curiosity

Brad NettlesPolly Sheppard, a member of Emanuel AME Church, pulls weeds away from the gravestone of Louis B. Middleton on Friday. Middleton, who was black, was a cook in the Confederate Army.

Six months ago, Polly Sheppard was wandering through her church’s cemetery, taking inventory of the stone markers. A couple of steps in, she noticed a military-style headstone. Carved on its weather-worn face was the name Louis B. Middleton Confederate Soldier.

The stone seemed out of place to her, given that the burial ground belongs to the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church of Charleston, regarded as the oldest black AME church in the South.ook.

A check of the state’s archives showed it wasn’t so strange after all: A Louis Middleton from Montague Street (the street was spelled with an “e” in the documents) worked as a cook during the war, and he applied for a South Carolina pension in 1923.

While the South and the nation are in the middle of celebrating the Civil War Sesquicentennial, historians say the involvement of the small percentage of blacks who participated in the Southern war effort is widely going unnoticed, largely because their role has become so politicized today.

“I think there are a lot of Confederate sympathizers who exaggerate the role of blacks in the Confederate military,” said Don Doyle, the McCausland professor of history at the University of South Carolina. “And a lot of skeptics who dismiss the idea that it was even possible.”

Read more at the Post and Courier
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