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    The Jubilee Singers. (1875). Image courtesy of the New York Public Library.

Nashville Blacks in the Civil War

Yesterday,  someone posted this historical marker to WayMarker.com

I’ve seen this marker in person – a couple of months ago I visited the Adventure Science Center and the marker is passed as you approach the entrance.   The marker commemorates the efforts of blacks during the Civil War and the role they played in helping to build  Fort Negley and their larger role during the Battle of Nashville.  

In his book, African-American History in Nashville, TN: 1780-1930, Bobby Lovett has a whole chapter on the roles and activieties of blacks during the Civil War.   Throughout the chapter Lovett captures quotes from several people involved, including a quote from former slave Nat Love who recollects in his autobiography how slave children wanted to go fight for the Union. 

Doing a little background research on Nat Love, I learned that he was a well-known cowboy an had the nickname of “Deadwood Dick” although he apparently was not the only one with that nickname.   His autobiography is available in its entirety through UNC’s Documenting the American South collection.   Nat was born here in Davidson County in 1854, son of slave Sampson Love.  He and his family were slaves of Robert Love.  Nat has an entry at FindAGrave; I would love to find an obituary for him though – he died in 1921.

Carroll Napier Langston, Jr.

Over on my genealogy blog, I’ve just posted some information on my overall impressions of FootNote.com and some of the potential I see with it. As I was exploring the site, I decided to do a search for information on Carroll Napier Langston, Jr. His paternal grandmother, Ida M. Napier Langston, was a sister to James Carroll Napier.

One of the collections I noticed in FootNote was one titled, Missing Air Crew Reports (MACRs) of the U.S. Army Air Forces, 1941-1948. In the course of my research, I knew that Carroll N. Langston Jr. had gone missing during WWII and his body was found a couple of weeks after he went missing. Wanting to see if I could find him in this resource, I did a search. His name is rather unique, so I was able to readily identify him in the results. I am deeply moved by what I found.

A report from September 19, 1944 provides an account from the person that found his body, Captain Samuel R. Center. While he was on reconnaissance with 5 others, he found a body that had washed up to the beach of the Adriatic Sea near Pineta, Italy on June 26, 1944. The account describes everything that they found on his body, information about how they buried him and a detailed description of where they buried him. On his person were items such as his ID tags, his pilot wings, a metal cigarette case, and his watch. They buried him “…about 750 feet south of railroad flag station no. 331, 200 feet from railroad track towards sea; 65 feet towards sea from second concrete post of barbed wire fence. Wow.

There were witnesses to the incident. — Lts. Maurice V. Easters, Ulysses S. Taylor, and Harold E. Sawyer. Lt. Sawyer reported that Carroll called in saying that he had engine trouble. Carroll was unable to keep up in flight, so Saywer left his route to fly with Carroll. Carroll was not able to keep the plane up, so decided to bail out, but something went wrong with his chute. It did not inflate all the way and Sawyer saw Carroll hanging on to the side of the plane. Sawyer could not stay with him because of low fuel, but notified Air Rescue. Carroll’s plane crashed about 10 miles off the coast of San Benedetti, Italy. The paperwork even includes a hand-drawn map of where his plane went down.

I really feel like I need a moment of silence after reading through all of this. Can you imagine finding this level of detail for a relative? These documents were previously confidential – I am so glad they have been opened up for public use.

If you have a FootNote account, you can view the images here.

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