AfriGeneas Military Research Forum Archive
Re: In Search of Back Pay for Heroine of Civil War
In Response To: In Search of Back Pay for Heroine of Civil War ()
Thanks for the posting about Harriet Tubman. Perhaps the issue of back pay due Harriet Tubman will raise the consciousness of all Americans about her strategic role in the Civil War. We only have to read the diaries of Union Generals to understand how much they admired her and appreciated her contribution in the war against the confederacy.
Her success as a conductor in the Underground Railroad continues to overshadow her service for the Union Army. No wonder Tubman never received her pension when history only remembers her as a gnarled, uneducated "quaint negro woman" who led a few hundred to freedom.
The image of a spy and a warrior who led black and white men into battle doesn't fit with the stereotypic image of Harriet Tubman. Her documented role during the Civil War presents a different persona. The dictionary defines a leader as a commander, a person who guides, and certainly someone of intelligence.
To find out if Tubman was considered part of the military, I did a Google search using the phrase "black military women" in quotes. The results were despicable. Of the first 10 results SIX related to smut. The last url is entitled " Black Babes Hoes" (I wonder who inspired that phraseology?) Don't blame Google, those are the characteristics that America defines as belonging to African American women.
Therefore I respectfully disagree with Tubman's great-grand niece when she was quoted as saying, "The reason why they ignored her is because she was black for one thing and because she was a woman for two," It was because Harriet was a "black woman" who could easily be ignored as a benevolent figure in the history of the Underground Railroad. The image of a war hero especially a woman certainly would have made those Union BWANNAS squirm. While men of color justly received our country's highest honors for their valor, Tubman was relegated to the back of the military bus.
If Tubman were alive today, she would be deeply troubled by the degrading treatment of black military women and the dismissal of their contributions by "BWANNA-like" historians. On the other hand she would be heartened to know that in the face of injustice military women of color continue to press on and serve their country. The url below, which includes links to other sites chronicles African American women from the past and present day and their contribution to military history. You'll enjoy "Our Military Sisters."
Thanks Bennie for including this story in the Afrigeneas Military Forum. I do hope our readers and others will encourage Senator Clinton to take a more aggressive leadership role in contributing to the memory of one of the Union Army's military heroes. That 11 grand is not a start but chump change
K Wyer Lane