FORT WORTH, TX – I saw a meme posted on Facebook the other day that intrigued me so I began to dig in. It was related to Sergeant William Harvey Carney. The first page I checked after conducting a Google search, was Wikipedia (albeit, not the best reference by far). It confirmed what the post said. I then checked a post from the New Bedford Historical Society of Massachusetts. It also verified the information on Wikipedia for the most part.
William was born in Norfolk, Virginia February 29th, 1840. He was born a slave and lived with his mother and father. His father, William, took the name of the Plantation owner, Major Carney. His mother’s name before marriage was Anne Dean, also property of Major Carney. When Major Carney died, all the slaves were freed.
The next part gets a bit cloudy. Wikipedia states that most accounts have him escaping to Massachusetts via the Underground Railroad to meet up with his father. But Wiki seems to leave a few facts out.
The article from the New Bedford Historical Society states that both the mother and father wanted an education for their son, and at the time it was still illegal for blacks to read or wright. Somehow they got him into a secret private school in Norfolk where he readily absorbed knowledge.
His mother and father saved every penny they could as they wanted to distance themselves from the “suffocating, inhumane grasp of slavery and the slave-catchers.” It was common for slave catchers to re-catch freed slaves and sell them back into bondage.
The family skipped around a bit to Pennsylvania, New York City, before settling in New Bedford like Frederick Douglass had done. William Jr worked about town and gained the respect and love of whites and blacks.
He attended the Bethel A.M.E. church but settled on Union Baptist. He even entertained thoughts of becoming a preacher until the war broke out. He decided that enlisting was the way he could serve God best by serving his oppressed and enslaved black brothers.
Both sources reiterate that Carney enlisted along with forty other blacks in the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, Company C. It was the first entire black regiment to be raised by the Northern States. After three months of training they were shipped off to South Carolina and saw action at places such as Hilton Head and Fort Wagner.
This last part is taken directly from the NB Historical society article. Wikipedia is slightly different but follows the same path of the Historical Society.
On July 18, 1863, these brave black soldiers led the charge and attack on Fort Wagner. During the heat of the battle the color guard, John Wall, was struck by a fatal bullet. He staggered and was about to drop the flag. Carney saw him; he threw down his gun, seized the flag and held it high throughout that fierce and bloody battle. Though twice wounded in his leg and right arm, bleeding, and hardly able to crawl, Carney clutched that flag until he finally reached the parapets of Fort Wagner. There in the sand, he planted Old Glory, still staunchly clutching it until he was rescued almost lifeless from loss of blood. Carney still refused to give up the flag to his rescuers but grasped it even tighter. Then he crawled on one knee, assisted by his comrades until he reached the Union temporary barracks. Recognizing men of his own regiment, he cried: “The old flag never touched the ground, boys.”
We have two heroes here, William and Miss Jane Waters, the author of the article. Educator and community activist Jane C. Waters (1902-1983) was director of the West End Community Center and established the first pre-kindergarten school in New Bedford’s West End. Of Wampanoag and African American ancestry, Jane was the architect of the New Bedford Black Heritage Trail and wrote the trail guide for New Bedford’s 1976 bicentennial celebration.
But as you know, I am not done yet. I challenge you, the NFL, NBA, MLB, BLM, Antifa and the Democrat Party, I dare you to hang his picture in your offices or locker rooms. And, yeah, one other challenge: How many of you learned this in school? I’m guessing your historically dampened curriculum washed it out. God bless you Sargent William Harvey Carney. You are not forgotten. Born February 29th, 1840 End of Duty December 9th, 1908. He receive his Medal of Honor on May 23rd, 1900. After all, I’m…