Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Rest, soldier, rest

A few years ago we found Calvin's grave at Riverside Cemetery in Seguin. In death African-Americans were segregated away from the more spacious "whites only" section of the Cemetery. I guess old cemeteries like Riverside are a still visible reminder of our Jim Crow era.

We had trouble reading the inscription at first but finally made it out: "Rest, soldier, rest, thy warefare's o're." On the right hand side there is a faint carving of a rose. I wondered how long it had been since someone had visited Calvin's grave.

I did some research and found that this inscription was popular for veterans' headstones during this era. Shortly afterwards, I was browsing ancestry.com and found Calvin listed in an index of Union Civil War veterans. I sent off for his Civil War pension papers from the National Archives. From this treasure trove of information I learned that after Calvin gained his freedom in Richnond, VA he joined the Union Army in April 1865. He served in Company G of the 40th Regiment of the U.S. Colored Troops. This regiment of about 400 men provided guard duty for rail lines in Eastern Tennessee. He was mustered out of the Army in Chattanooga one year later, with a bonus of $100, less $8.08 for the cost of his uniform.