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CIVIL WAR OP-ED: When Rucker called the roll — A Soldier’s Story
Wednesday, August 10, 2011 - 17:18 By Calvin E. Johnson Jr.
Mrs. Daisy Anderson was the last widow of a Black Union soldier whose husband Private Robert Ball Anderson served in the 125th United States Colored Troops. She and Mrs. Alberta Martin, the last widow of a Confederate soldier, met in Gettysburg, Pa. in 1997. Both of these grand ladies have sadly passed over the river to rest in the shade of the trees.
The Confederate flag, which continues to come under attack, was the proud banner of Black, White, Hispanic, Jewish and Native American sons and daughters of Dixie who stood nobly in defense of their homeland and way of life during the War Between the States. Once upon a time neither the Confederate nor the Union Veterans or their blood stained battle flag needed any defense.
The following is one of over 50,000 stories of the Black Confederate Soldier, slave and free, who stood honorably and proudly for Southern Independence, 1861-1865. After the war many of these men attended the reunions of Confederate soldiers including that at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
On August 10, 1905, Amos Rucker, an ex-Confederate soldier and proud member of the United Confederate Veterans, died in Atlanta, Georgia. His friends of the UCV had previously bought a grave site and marker for him and his wife Martha who had a limited income.
Amos was a servant and best friend to Sandy Rucker. Both men joined the 33rd Georgia Regiment when the South was invaded. Amos fought as a regular soldier and sustained wounds to his breast and one of his legs that left him permanently crippled.
Amos Rucker joined the W.H.T. Walker Camp of the United Confederates after the war in Atlanta, Georgia. He faithfully attended the meetings that were held on the second Monday of each month at 102 Forsyth Street. He was able to remember the name of every man of his old 33th Regiment and would name them and add whether they were living or dead.
Amos Rucker and wife Martha felt that the men of the United Confederate Veterans were like family. Rucker said that, "My folks gave me everything I want." The UCV men helped Amos and wife Martha with a house on the west side of Atlanta and John M. Slaton helped with his will and care for his wife. Slaton was a member of Atlanta's John B. Gordon Camp 46 Sons of Confederate Veterans and was governor of Georgia when he commuted the death sentence of Leo Frank.
A funeral service for Amos Rucker was conducted by former Confederate General and Reverend Clement A. Evans. An article about the funeral related that Rucker was clothed in a gray Confederate uniform and a Confederate flag covered his casket. It is written that both white and black friends of Rucker came to pay their last respects. There was not a dry eye in the church when Captain William Harrison read a poem, entitled, "When Rucker called the roll."
A grave marker was placed in 1909 by the United Confederate Veterans that for many years marked the graves of Amos and Martha Rucker but some say it was taken many years ago. A few years ago the Sons of Confederate Veterans remarked Rucker’s grave.
The Georgia Division Sons of Confederate Veterans joins our nation in remembering the 150th Anniversary “Sesquicentennial” of the American War Between the States. See additional information at: htttp://www.150wbts.org/
Information for this story came from the book "Forgotten Confederates- A Anthology about Black Confederates" compiled by Kelly Barrow, J.H. Segars and R.B. Rosenburg."
Editor's Note: The subject of black soldiers on the Confederate side in the Civil War is a controversial one. This column represents one historian's point of view. The word "servant" was used by Southerners as a euphemism for "slave." Johnson is absolutely correct on the role of Native Americans on the Southern side in the war. Many of them were also slaveowners, as were more than a few free blacks.
* * * Johnson, from Kennesaw, GA, is a writer, speaker, author of book, looking to republish “When America Stood for God, Family and Country” and member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.