WSAV: News, Weather, and Sports for Savannah, GA
By Greg Gullberg, Reporter Posted: Dec 16, 2013 4:15 PM CSTUpdated: Dec 16, 2013 6:46 PM CST
SAVANNAH, GA –
A Savannah woman is working to break down barriers and stereotypes by joining the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Georgia Benton is now the first African-American in the state to become a member.
“There are thousands of African-Americans who participated in the Civil War. Not only on the Union side, but on the Confederate side,” Benton said.
Many people do not realize African-Americans participated on both sides of the Civil War.
They served the Confederacy in various ways, including in battle. Now this Savannah native wants to make sure people like her great-grandfather are not forgotten.
Her great-grandfather was a slave in Sumter County, South Carolina named George W. Washington. Washington served in the Civil War as a body servant to Lt. Alex McQueen.
“You could say from Fort Sumter to Gettysburg they were together. So whatever McQueen went through, my great-grandfather went through,” Benton said.
Benton says her grandmother passed down stories of Washington over the years about his service in the war. That information was important when she asked to join the organization.
“At the time I did not know she was an African-American. I thought she was just another prospective member,” said Elizabeth Piechocinski, President of the Savannah Chapter.
Piechocinski says she’s proud to have Benton as a member.
“If we don’t know who we are and where we came from, than how on Earth do we know where we’re going?”
“If you eliminate the history of the black Confederate soldier, than you eliminate the history of the south. And if you eliminate the history of the south, you eliminate the history of the United States,” Benton said.
Benton says her great-grandfather served in numerous battles including the battle of Sharpsburg and the battle of Gettysburg. He survived the war and later died in 1911.
In the same meeting where Benton was inducted, the United Daughters of the Confederacy also made a $250 donation to the Wounded Warrior Project. They say they hope to make more donations in the near future.