After the Civil War, thousands of formerly enslaved men applied for noncombatant, confederate pensions. From Virginia to Texas, they served the Calvary, the Infantry, and the Light Artillery regiments of the Confederate States of America (C.S.A.).
Without these noncombatants, the C.S.A. would have ceased to exit long before April 9th, 1865. In Mississippi alone, black men and women filed more than seventeen hundred pension applications. As servants, they served in a variety of roles (e.g., blacksmiths, breastworks laborers, cattle drovers, cook, horseshoers, hospital attendants, hostlers, iron workers, message boys, musicians—buglers and drummer boys, nurses, railroad laborers, salt makers, shoemakers, teamsters, waiters, and washers.
In Oktibbeha County, in particular, 42 Freedmen lived long enough to apply for Confederate Pensions as Servants between 1900 and 1934. I suspect that the number of men who actually served the Oktibbeha County’s C.S.A. was two or three-fold.
One of those men, a man named Shep Danzy, was born between 1840 and 1846 to Edmond and Winnie Danzy. Shep Danzy of Oktibbeha County, MS, according to his APPLICATION FOR PENSION—FORM 3: SERVANT, was a hospital attendant and he served under Major John Green of Noxubee County, Mississippi, in Macon, Mississippi. After the war, Shep became a farmer, living just two doors away from an A. O. Green, a white merchant of dry goods. In 1872, Danzy married Clara Hampton of Oktibbeha County. Over the years, they became the parents of several children.
In 1898, his daughter, Rebekar, married my great grand uncle, George Boyd, Sr., and they became the parents of at least seven children, including four boys who lived to adulthood: James, Shepherd, George, Jr., and L. C.—aka “C”. In 1934, Shep was predeceased by his beloved wife, Clara. About the same time, he applied for a Confederate Pension Applications.
As I read question 20—“Give nature of your disability and destitution?” my heart ached for him. Answer: “Old Age. Have nothing. Being fed by F.E.R.A.” As I looked at this photograph again, I thought about the hard life that he had lived and I wished that he were with us today. I thought about my third and fourth cousins—his grandchildren and great-great grandchildren. Three and four generations later, did they know the importance his life had made in our family history.
And, what would they say when he asked, “Do You Know My Name?”