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A.J. Williams Myers Paper

Civil War Soldier Monologue

My name is William Henry Myers and I am a proud CITIZEN of Nyack, New York and these United States! Now, I put emphasis on citizen because unfortunately during many years of my life, I wasn’t considered a citizen or even a human being. See, when I was born on the 17th of August in 1848, I was considered another man’s property, like a mule or a hog. Me, and my entire family was slaves in Virginia. Then one day in 1860, when I was just about 12 years old, my master up and sold me way south to a cotton plantation in Mississippi. And just like that, I lost my family—GONE… never to be seen again. Now, living as a slave was anything but easy—but in Virginia, at least I had my family. I tell you when that wagon pulled off that plantation the pain was too bitter to swallow. So, I ended up on this cotton plantation doing hard labor under the meanest sun known to man. But no matter what they did to me, I never lost sight of my freedom. And there was a whole heap of men and women on that plantation who was looking to take they freedom, especially after word came that the Union Army was near and taking on colored men that wanted to fight against those rebel Confederates. So first chance I got, I took to the wind —yes sir! I stole my freedom! Found my way to the Union lines at Millikens Bend, Louisiana and “on the 7th of June 1863, I became Private William Myers of Co. K 9th infantry” under General Daniel Ullmann of Nyack, New York. “My first battle was at Millikens Bend, and then was in the battles of Warrenton, Red Bone and at Big Black River in Mississippi. Found myself wounded in all of these engagements, hospitalized, taken prisoner and had a finger shot off.” Yet, I had the privilege of saving my regiment from a “hot shell by throwing it out of the Fort at Red Bone before it exploded.” Yes, I lived, when a lot men, both white and colored died. They won’t be forgotten and as I stand here today, I give you my word to speak of their heroic deeds for this country.

By the end of the war, I had made first sergeant. I came to Nyack because of my burning desire to be in the kind of place that could raise up a white man like General Ullmann, a man who believed in the rights of colored people to not be deprived of life, liberty and property. And I found my family too, yes sir! Brought my little brother Anthony up here and he became the first colored to graduate from Nyack High School. Now he’s teaching our folks to read and write!

So, if you don’t remember anything else that I told you here today, just remember that you made the acquaintance of one Mr. William Henry Myers, a Civil War soldier, a FREE MAN and a CITIZEN of these United States!

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