Civil War Marker

People who attended Saturday’s unveiling of a new Civil War marker gather around the sign located next to Rouss City Hall in downtown Winchester. The marker shares the story of an 1864 mustering of Black troops for the Union Army that occurred where City Hall now stands.

WINCHESTER — A new interpretive marker unveiled Saturday morning in downtown Winchester highlights the story of Black men who were willing to fight and die for their freedom during the Civil War.

It's the first of two planned markers sponsored by the Winchester-Frederick County Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) and the Williamsburg-based Civil War Trails organization that are intended to give a more comprehensive view of what happened in and around Winchester during the racially charged War Between the States. The second sign is expected to be unveiled in the coming months in Stephenson.

The marker unveiled Saturday during a brief ceremony featuring Winchester Mayor David Smith, City Manager Dan Hoffman and Winchester NAACP President Michael Faison is located on the grounds of Rouss City Hall at 15 N. Cameron St. That's the same site where Black soldiers from the Union Army attempted to muster other Black men to join their ranks in April 1864.

According to Jonathan A. Noyalas, director of Shenandoah University’s McCormick Civil War Institute, soldiers from the 19th United States Colored Troops marched into the heart of Winchester — surviving a Confederate ambush along the way — to see if any local Black men would be willing to join their fight for freedom.

Unfortunately, only two men enlisted during the company's time in Winchester. While that number was low, it was most likely due to the fact that nearly 200 African Americans who lived in Winchester had already joined the Union Army before the 19th came to town. Among them were 42-year-old William Banks, who died from wounds he sustained in a skirmish on James Island, S.C., and 43-year-old Robert Lucas, who was promoted to sergeant by war’s end and spent the rest of his life as a free man.

Justin Kerns, executive director of the Winchester-Frederick County CVB, said it took more than two years to make the downtown Winchester marker a reality.

"We're trying to expand the story of the Civil War and its impacts on the community versus what battle happened where," Kerns said.

The second planned sign will tell the story of the Stephenson's Depot train station in Frederick County, where residents of the Confederacy would board trains to travel north into Union states. Among the people who boarded there were numerous Blacks fleeing from enslavement.

Due to the time it will take to get the necessary permissions to install the sign, Kerns said, "That's a longer-term project." No date for its unveiling has been announced.

"Anything Civil War-related is on our radar as potentially being controversial," Kerns said, "but these are good stories to tell and we're happy to help tell them."

— Contact Brian Brehm at bbrehm@winchesterstar.com

(16) comments

Old Western Man

A positive act, though I also wonder how many local black men (free or unfree) served with confederate units (ie. a Holt Collier or a Levi Miller).

Maybe a plaque for another day, in the interests of justice and historical truths.

john brown

A plaque for a black man fighting to keep black peiple inslaved.....LOL ...you've lost what little mind you have "old man".. no doubt these "black slaves" fought under duress. We have seen more than our share of statues and plaques attempting to show "honor" to treasonous slavers.

TheOneAndOnlyNuri

Considering the numbers of blacks serving under arms constitutes the rarest of circumstances, you're not going to see a large contribution of facts. More often than not, blacks in the rosters are often laborers and manservants, not troops. Richmond did not legalize allowing the training and arming of blacks until 1865.

Have you done any research on this?

john brown

More about this treasonous racist war..... like hitler's war, these treasonous racist dark days need to be put behind us forever. More focus needs to be put on the treasonous racist of January 6, 2021.

SJFRAME

Hopefully our judicial system will take care of Jan. 6!!!

john brown

So far white privilege slaps on hands for treason.

Journey2goremtns1

Oops! What? More socialist noise. I did hear a bunch of lies.

Catherine Giovannoni

You clearly don't know what "socialist" means.

davism412

Thank you! I have to roll my eyes at how the word socialism is erroneously thrown around these days. Fear-mongering--it's a great way to discredit everything else that you say. 🙄

BryanLNuri

Is this erasing history? I can't tell.

Chupacabra

[offtopic] But at least you tried, convict.

davism412

😂👍👏

slowe

“ We're trying to expand the story of the Civil War and its impacts on the community versus what battle happened where," Kerns said.”. Here is an impact on the community story you could do: How many enslaved were there in Frederick County when the war started? How many slave owners? WHo were the slave owners? How many slave did each own? Where did they live? What were their addresses? All this should be in the census records of 1860 or 1850. What happened to these local slave owners? Are their descendants still in the area? Who are they? Researching ancestors and family trees is very popular and easier to do these days. Who in the area are the descendants of our former slave owners? Who? Maybe there should be a plaque / marker for them. Tell ALL the history. Facts are our Friends. Maybe there should be an association of these descendants like there are for the descendants of the Confederate soldiers: the Sons of Confederate Veterans, SCV, of which there is a local active chapter. If we are going to honor the Confederate soldiers, shouldn’t we also honor the slave owners? Do they not deserve a statue too? After all, without them there would never have been a Civil War!

slowe

Include Clark county in this research.

Chupacabra

Clarke County. Get it right.

Chupacabra

Sounds like you have some work to do. Let us know what you find out.

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