Beautiful day downtown with my new friend Mr. Urulee Watson. We are at a monument for the Black Brigade, who were responsible for turning the south away from Cincinnati and their efforts are celebrated. Much more to come from My GI and the NABVETS.
In the early years of the American Civil War, Ohio was a free state where slavery was illegal. In southern Ohio, the pro-slavery city of Cincinnati lies along the Ohio River, which bordered the Union-held, slave state of Kentucky. On September 2, 1862, with the imminent threat of a Confederate attack, half of the city's white citizens supported the forcible rounding up, many times at gun point, from their homes, all, available, free black, adult, male citizens, by the Cincinnati police force and impressed, into temporary, forced labor, in the construction of fortifications.
These men were treated like slaves, during the construction of the defensive perimeter, around Cincinnati, on the Ohio and Kentucky sides of the river. Between, the harsh, working conditions imposed, on the black conscripts and the extreme brutality, of the quasi-military, police guards, the fortifications were eventually completed. Soon after, Union Army officer, Major General Lew Wallace put Colonel William M. Dickson in charge and made sure the men finally received fair treatment, due to soldiers. The soldiers of Black Brigade, received their own military unit flag and $13 a month, Union Army private's pay. The Brigade continued to work, as a labor detail, until September 20. The Brigade had only one fatality: Joseph Johns who was killed, in an accident, on September 17, 1862. Because of the racial segregation, of the military, at that time, the city would not allow black men to join the all white, volunteer militia. The Black Brigade was never intended to be activated, as armed soldiers and saw no combat during the war.
Powhatan Beaty, a soldier in the Black Brigade of Cincinnati, who enlisted in the 5th United States Colored Cavalry, was promoted to first sergeant, and was later awarded the Medal of Honor for valiant Union Army service in Virginia.
Senator Joe Uecker was my guest speaker at the 2017 My GI Foundation Soldier of The Year Banquet. Senator Uecker has been kind enough to attend two events I have hosted for my veterans. He has represented the 14th District since 2013 as a Republican member of the Ohio Senate.
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