Slaves to Soldiers Honored

Nearly 24,000 men served in the US Colored Troops, many conscripted in 1862-63 to build Fort Negley in Nashville and Fort Granger in Franklin. Photo from SlavesToSoldiers.com

FRANKLIN, TN — Williamson County African American veterans of the Civil War were honored on Memorial Day at Veterans Park by the African American Heritage Society of Williamson County.

Brick pavers with veterans’ names were dedicated at Five Points in the park operated by county veterans service officers, according to Heritage Society Board Member Tina Jones who started the program; Slaves to Soldiers.

“Until recently, it was thought that only a handful of former slaves from Williamson County had joined the Union forces to fight during the Civil War,” she said. Additional research revealed it’s closer to 300. New pavers honor local men who served in the U.S. Colored Troops and in the U.S. Navy during the Civil War.

Deceased Williamson County veterans are honored with their names engraved in park pavers. Memorial Day 2018 was the first time black service men’s names were included, Jones said.

Slaves to Soldiers made connections between some of those veterans and living descendants. Through DNA testing, Historian Thelma Battle, an AAHSWC founding member, realized she’s related to Felix Battle for whom a paver was dedicated May 28. Seaman Stephen Bostick’s paver was also dedicated. His granddaughter lives in Ohio and sponsored his paver. They cost $65. Such records are maintained in county archives at Five Points. See SlavesToSoldiers.com. Jones is at SlavesToSoldiers@gmail.com

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