Black Nova Scotian fought in American Civil War
A musket and flowers were placed beside the now marked grave of Civil War hero Ben Jackson.
BY ASHLEY THOMPSON
Across from the Stoney Hill United Baptist Church in Lockhartville, in a quaint blink-and-you-may-miss-it place, lies one of Kings County’s most deserving recipients of a headstone.
And thanks to the Committee to Honour Ben Jackson, he finally has one.
“He fought for a cause he believed in. We just want to recognize the fact that he is deserving of this honour and that it’s long overdue,” says Lolita Crosby, one of five committee members.
“He’s been here resting in peace since 1915, but he’s never had a headstone.”
Around 400 people gathered at Stoney Hill Cemetery June 12 to watch 20th Maine American Civil War re-enactors give Jackson a funeral service fit for a hero.
Crosby says some spectators were “teary eyed” as Jackson, a black Civil War hero, finally got the military service he deserved.
Percy Paris, Minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs, says Jackson’s service was “a ceremony well worth attending.”
Born and raised in Windsor, Paris said it was touching to see so many people at the event.
Elwood Dillman, a Civil War scholar who co-founded the committee with St. Clair Patterson, stood guard at Jackson’s grave as part of the service.
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“In terms of the Civil War in Nova Scotia, the name Ben Jackson kept coming up, and I noticed that, many years after he left us, there was still no marker – no indication of who he was or where he was,” Dillman explains.
“I thought he deserved to have that wrong put right.”
Dillman believes Jackson’s own desire to right wrongs led him to fight in the gruelling Civil War that divided the United States from 1861 to 1865. Jackson fought for the abolition of slavery in the U.S. under the name of Louis Saunders. He received a Civil War Medal while serving in the Union navy for snatching a live grenade off the deck of a ship and tossing it overboard. He was honourably discharged in 1865 after injuring his arm while attempting to diffuse a torpedo; a feat he had accomplished many times.
“Looking over that crowd and seeing a great many black people sitting next to a great many white people, honouring a black man who died a long time ago - there was a sense of satisfaction,” Dillman says.
“Whether we’re black or white, we’re all brothers.”