By Clayta Richards / Chronicle staffwriter
On Sunday afternoon at Old Union Cemetery in southern White County, over 180 people gathered to pay a debt owed nearly 80 years. The group included members of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, Sons of Confederate Veterans, family and friends, all there to memorialize the service of Pvt. Henry Henderson, a black Confederate soldier.
Henderson was born in 1849 in Davidson County, NC. He was 11 years old when he entered service with the Confederate States of America as a cook and servant to Colonel William F. Henderson, a medical doctor. Records show Henry was wounded during his service, but he continued to serve until the war's end in 1865. He was discharged in Salem, NC, age 16.
After the war, Henry married Miranda Shockley, of White County, TN. The couple raised five children.
"We're here to honor him," said his great-grandson, Oscar Fingers, of Evansville, IN. "I think he would be proud his family has come this far and to know all we have done." Several other family members made the trip with Fingers from Indiana for Sunday's ceremony.
Sons Dalton and Lee received Henderson's first and last Tennessee Colored Confederate pension check upon their father's death in September 1926. The check provided enough funds to bury their father, but not enough to buy a headstone for his grave.
The 60,000-90,000 black Confederate soldiers are often called "the forgotten Confederates," but through the concerted efforts of the Capt. Sally Tompkins Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy along with the Sons of the Confederate Veterans, several graves have been found in the Upper Cumberland and have been or will be marked.
Pvt. Henry Henderson's service was finally recognized and his grave officially marked on Sunday, all to the snap of salutes from the grandsons of fellow Confederates, volleys of gunfire and cannons shot toward the distant hillsides of his final resting place.
Official U.S. government grave markers are available to all Confederate veterans. For additional information, contact Barbara Parsons, 484-5501.