At Appomattox Courthouse in April of 1865, an Alabama soldier by the name of Zeb Thompson stood, rifle by his side, within a stone’s throw of General Robert E. Lee when he surrendered to General Grant.
Thompson had participated in many of the greatest battles of the War during his service to the Confederacy and had been wounded three times. Thompson, like several other Confederate soldiers looking on, was a black man. Also there was Private Needham Leach, one of two blacks, and ten whites left in Company C of the 53rd North Carolina Regiment.
These were just a few of at least 50,000 and as many as 100,000 black slaves and freemen who served the Confederate cause in some military or naval capacity. Thompson indicated in his 1917 interview with the Birmingham Age-Herald that he had attended every Confederate reunion and was very proud of his war record.
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