The Sunday Star article “Can There be a Middle Ground?” did not provide much hope that the controversy surrounding the Talbot Boys statue would be resolved with a proposed “Unity” statue. Ironically, in the same issue, the guest commentary by Paul Callahan of the Preserve Talbot History Coalition reports that the Talbot Boys monument at the Courthouse was raised to give expression to “the spirit of national unity and national brotherhood” experienced by those attending the Gettysburg Reunion of 1913.
Although Paul Callahan states that 1913 Gettysburg Reunion was “a reunion for all who had fought on either side” in the Civil War, photos taken at the event, and now online, depict only white veterans. When one considers that by the end of the war one tenth of the Union Army was comprised of one hundred and seventy-five United States Colored Troops (USCT) regiments, their absence is notable at an event “for all who had fought on either side.”
Located near Easton, Unionville was founded for and by returning USCT veterans. The Unionville AME graveyard has a Civil War Trail marker which give a stirring account of the service of the 7th Regiment USCT raised in Maryland. I doubt that any of the USCT surviving veterans, or their descendants, were interested in attending an event that celebrated “national brotherhood” at a time when the experience of almost all African Americans was second class citizenship and an acceptance of lynching in many of the former Confederate states. I also find it difficult to believe that any of those who had served In the USCT from Talbot County would have supported placing a statue of Confederate soldiers in front of the County Courthouse. It is very likely that no one asked them.
While I believe that the Talbot Boys statue diminishes the service of colored troops from Maryland and Talbot County who were willing to give up their lives and their recently gained freedom to defend the Union, the statue does provide an unintentional historical lesson. Across from the Talbot Boys statue is a statue of Fredrick Douglas which Talbot County celebrates as one of their own. Despite having family still living in the area after the Civil War, Douglas chose not to live here once he escaped slavery. A statue of Confederate soldiers on the grounds of the County Courthouse can give us a clue why.