Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

What Does Hannibal Alexander Tell Us About Black Confederate PoWs?

Posted in African Americans, Memory by Andy Hall on July 10, 2011

One of the things that’s often offered as evidence of African Americans serving as Confederate soldiers is the fact that some of these men were captured and held in Northern prison camps. Why would these men be held if they were not soldiers? goes the thinking, and there are PoW records that show them as soldiers. It’s a compelling rhetorical argument, but reality is oftentimes more complex than that. From the Confederate Veteran, January 1901:

Hannibal Alexander was a slave belonging to Parker Alexander. He went with his young master, Sidney Alexander, to the war, and did his duty faithfully. “Ham” died recently in Monroe County, Miss. He and his wife Delia by industry made a good living and accumulated a competence, ever having the confidence and friendship of the white people about their lifetime home. Writes W. A. Campbell, of Columbus :

In the army he was cook. He was in the siege of Fort Donelson. He was captured there, and went to Camp Douglass [sic.] as a Confederate prisoner. He answered roll call all the time as a white soldier. Being a bright [i.e., light-skinned] mulatto, he was brought to Vicksburg and exchanged with the others, and again went with his young master into service.

The Federal sergeant that called the roll was somewhat suspicious as to “Ham” (as he was called by the boys) being a slave, but he was told that living in Mississippi he was sunburned and that made him dark.

Hannibal was a very intelligent negro [sic.], and knew if he left his master he could go free, but he elected to stay with him among the white men he had been raised with, and preferred to suffer with them.

I knew Hannibal for more than forty years as slave and freeman, and he was ever polite and friendly to all his former owners. In the old days I went on many a hunting and fishing expedition with Sidney, with “Ham” to wait on us.

His old master with whom he went in the army is yet alive, but in poor health.

There are a number of examples of mixed-race men “passing” to enter Confederate military service, only to be discharged when found out; Alexander’s is a case of “passing” to remain with his master inside the confines of Camp Douglas.

There’s a lot to digest in Hannibal Alexander’s story. The Confederate Veteran story is framed, typically, as that of a slave’s lifelong fidelity to his master, and willingness to suffer the (very real) hardships of a Federal prison camp to do so. (This short piece is part of a section called, “Faithful Negroes Who Were Slaves.”) But it’s important to recognize that this story makes it clear that in remaining in the camp, Alexander consciously chose to represent himself as a white soldier, rather than his actual status as an enslaved cook. The article also argues that his decision to remain was one of personal loyalty to his master, not to the regiment or the Confederacy. As others have often pointed out, it’s not sufficient just to say a man “served” when talking about slaves and the Confederate army; it’s important to make a distinction about who or what he was in service to.

And of course, we have nothing at all from Alexander himself to explain his decision.

Alexander’s story is revealing because a number of “black Confederate solders” have been so identified on the basis of documents just like Alexander’s compiled service record (CSR, right) that record their presence in Union prison camps. Based on his assumed identity, Alexander’s card identifies him as a private in the 20th Mississippi Infantry, a rank he never actually held. Significantly, too, there are only two items in Alexander’s CSR folder, both relating to his parole, and originating from Camp Douglas (“roll dated Headquarters Camp Douglas, Chicago, Ill.”). There’s no Confederate record for him, dating from before or after Camp Douglas, because he wasn’t considered a soldier. By comparison, the CSR for the master he served, Sidney Alexander, contains nine separate cards detailing his career as a private in Co. B of that regiment.

Hannibal Alexander’s case is an intriguing one for a number of reasons. How valuable would it be to have Alexander’s own, unvarnished account of these events, rather than as told through the eyes of his former master’s old friend? It would be useful to know how many African American cooks and servants found themselves, like Hannibal Alexander, swept up by the Union army and made the decision to remain in the camp, passing themselves off as enlisted soldiers to do so. It’s also a good object lesson in how there might be a CSR in the National Archives for a man who was never actually recognized as a soldier by the Confederacy.

Oh, one other thing — the Confederate Veteran piece says that Sidney Alexander returned to military service, but his CSR notes that in March 1863, six months after his parole from Camp Douglas, Sidney received a discharge after hiring a substitute. Rich man’s war, poor man’s fight, y’all.
___________
Image: Camp Douglas, Chicago, c. 1863. Chicago Historical Society.

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  1. marcferguson said, on July 11, 2011 at 6:54 am

    A lot of interesting stuff here, Andy. Especially in how “Ham” is described and praised. He was “a very intelligent negro [was that seen as unusual?],” and “I knew Hannibal for more than forty years as slave and freeman, and he was ever polite and friendly to all his former owners.” Sounds prescriptive and like a cautionary tale to me at the turn of the 20th century.

    Another good find that in my opinion tells us something much different than some would claim.

    • Andy Hall said, on July 11, 2011 at 7:06 am

      Then there’s the line, “In the old days I went on many a hunting and fishing expedition with Sidney, with “Ham” to wait on us.” The gulf between Alexander and the white soldiers is still very, very wide.

      The “faithful slave” narrative was one of the essential cornerstones of the Lost Cause, and turns up again and again from the 1880s onward, ultimately ending up on the Confederate Monument at Arlington. There was no hesitation about recognizing and praising African Americans whose actions could be seen as affirming the Confederate cause, and who didn’t significantly challenge the social status — soon to be re-codified in Jim Crow laws — that existed previously.

      There’s actually a standard construction to stories like this, and lines such as “he and his wife Delia by industry made a good living and accumulated a competence, ever having the confidence and friendship of the white people about their lifetime home” turn up over and over again. They kept their place, worked hard, were thrifty, and didn’t do anything to challenge the status quo. These stories always reference how the subject was highly regarded by the local white community, but less often how they were viewed in the local African American community. As Dick Gregory said, “down South they don’t care how close I get, so long as I don’t get too big, and up North they don’t care how big I get, so long as I don’t get too close.” The first part of that equation is what’s going on here.

  2. Karl Gottschalk said, on July 11, 2011 at 9:59 am

    It seems to me that the reason SCV and others honor “black Confederates” is not so much to honor their actual service as to advance the underlying “lost cause” narrative that slavery wasn’t so bad, many slaves were if not loyal at least content with their lot, etc. While your analysis of this story about Hannibal Alexander may possibly weaken the black Confederate argument, it seems to me that the story of Hannibal and his master actually strengthens the underlying narrative. I am sure their weren’t too many slaves who were so loyal to their masters that they were willing to endure prison with them, but publicizing anecdotes such as this one only helps support the underlying lost cause narrative. Not sure it actually takes you where you want to go.

    • Andy Hall said, on July 11, 2011 at 10:24 am

      Karl, thanks for commenting. You wrote:

      While your analysis of this story about Hannibal Alexander may possibly weaken the black Confederate argument, it seems to me that the story of Hannibal and his master actually strengthens the underlying narrative. I am sure their weren’t too many slaves who were so loyal to their masters that they were willing to endure prison with them, but publicizing anecdotes such as this one only helps support the underlying lost cause narrative. Not sure it actually takes you where you want to go.

      You’re right, and I understand how this story could be used to further the Lost Cause/BCS meme. But the BCS is really little more than “faithful slaves” outfitted in a new butternut uniform in any case. Its advocates now frame these men’s loyalty as being to the Confederacy, rather than to their masters, but it’s the same story as it ever was, and there’s little attempt to understand these men as individuals, in their (inevitable) complexity.

      My hope — perhaps naive — is to show to those with an open mind that these stories really are complex, and that we need to dig deeper in each case to see what’s going on. It does are real disservice to these men — who the BCS advocates are ostensibly trying to honor — to simply slap a “black Confederate” label (or headstone) on them and be done with it. The True Believers on the subject of BCS aren’t going to be convinced, but then, I’m not writing for them. I’m writing for the person who types “black Confederates” and “Camp Douglas” into a search engine somewhere, who’s interested in really figuring out what happened, in all its messy and sometimes contradictory detail.

      If the Lost Cause folks want to hail Alexander as a “faithful slave,” — which is exactly the point the Confederate Veteran was making — that’s up to them. What they cannot do, if they’re interested in being honest about the historical record, is make the sort of retroactive claim for BCS status for Alexander that they’ve done in so many other cases. The record of how Alexander and his actions were viewed — both during the war and decades later — is quite clear.

      • Rob Baker said, on July 12, 2011 at 2:12 pm

        I think another approach we have too look at as well. It was early in the war when he was captured, meaning there wasn’t an outcry to abolish slavery in the northern ranks. This could simply be a situation of fear. “Ham” could have thought possibly that by admitting his position as a slave that the Northern Troops would force labor on him somewhere. One could argue by staying with his master he was avoiding harsh work. I tend to think it has more to do with his wife that he married in 1860. By remained with Sydney, ‘Ham’ had more assurance to return to her than under the control of somebody else.

        • Andy Hall said, on July 12, 2011 at 2:33 pm

          Yeah, there are lots of ways to look at this. But one of the most important things an historian (writ broad) has to do is acknowledge the limits of his or her understanding. There’s lots of very basic things about this story we’re never likely to know.

  3. marcferguson said, on July 11, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    The bottom line is that we cannot know what really motivated Hannibal Alexander, since we have no testimony from him. People and their relationships to others, especially when it involves power, are complex, and individuals react to circumstances based on many things. What we can see here is something of what happened, and how it was constructed by others later.

  4. Dennis said, on July 11, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    Not to go over the top but maybe Ham and his “Master” were more than faithful slave and caring master but lovers; hence, the two wanted to stay together. Back then people who were gay had to hid it and even marry and have families/children. The issue of a black and white would be pure fire, too (unless white male/black female, then the rape was considered normal – strange traditions these people wanted to keep but that is another issue and off track).

    Not that this is what happened here. Trying to determine the why now is mostly impossible. Considering that 15% of males today are gay, and a few ‘slaves” stayed with their masters even in POW camps (and a simple word would get them free from really terrible conditions) one has to wonder what would cause such extreme loyalty- such behavior could more easily/partly be explained if the relationship was based on more than just normal work service. True, guessing but the law of averages means it did happen and more often than one would want to admit; slavery was all about sex too and many forget that very ugly fact.

    • Andy Hall said, on July 11, 2011 at 1:42 pm

      I think you’re confusing Hannibal Alexander with another famous Alexander from military history. ;-)

      More seriously, this sort of speculation doesn’t help — at all — not because of the topic, but simply because we know nothing about either Hannibal Alexander or Sidney Alexander in their own words, and nothing at all about their lives outside of the most basic outline of their military service. Let’s stick to the evidence we have, which is both extremely limited and at second hand.

      _____________

      Added: FWIW, I did a quick check of the 1900 Census, taken shortly before Alexander’s death, and it shows him as 68 years old, born in January 1832. He and his wife, Adelia (age 55, born April 1845 in Tennessee), reported as having been married for 40 years, since 1860. Slave marriages were not generally recognized by law, but they did happen, and Adelia reported in 1900 to have had eight children, six of whom were still living. A 17-year-old granddaughter, Dora Ann Irons, was living with them.

      There was also a Hannibal Alexander, Jr. living in Monroe County, born 1863, who is almost certainly their son.

      • corkingiron said, on July 12, 2011 at 9:17 am

        The marriage date is interesting, and may relate to his motives. If he was a husband, and a father, the only way “home” may well have been through a display of loyalty. The War’s outcome was hardly a safe bet in 1862. Do we know where the marriage took place? And married at the age of 15? Was that common?

        • Andy Hall said, on July 12, 2011 at 9:36 am

          The marriage is noted in the 1900 census, and the date implied by the self-reporting that they’d been married 40 years. It should probably be seen as an approximation. Same goes for their listed birthdates — they may be accurate and they may not. I’ve seen examples of folks whose reported age changed drastically between two decennial censuses. The other thing to remember is that in that period, I believe there were no mail-and-return census forms as today; all information was collected face-to-face by enumerators. So even barring intentional deception, the information included in the census is only as good as the knowledge of the person who happens to answer the door and provide the information.

          I think 15 would not have been an uncommon age for marriage. In that time and place, she would have been for all intents and purposes considered to be an adult.

          I don’t want to go too far in speculating about Alexander’s motives for going in the pen, but it’s entirely possible that he expected to be paroled within a few months (as proved to be the case), and may have seen that as a more-sure way of getting home sooner than taking his chances as a contraband behind Federal lines. Framed that way, Alexander’s willingness to endure the hardships of prison camp could be seen as an act of simple self-interest (from his perspective), as opposed to loyalty to his master as the Confederate Veteran would have its readers understand. We just don’t know.

          Then, too, a largely-overlooked human motivator is what might be called the-devil-you-know — lots of people choose to endure bad, unhappy situations rather than strike out into the unknown, which might prove better, or much worse.

      • Kate said, on July 24, 2011 at 12:44 pm

        If Hampton/Hannibal was so light-skinned he could ‘pass’, then it’s far more likely he and Sidney were brothers than that they were lovers.

        Too easy to forget sometimes where all those light-skinned blacks came from.

  5. Halteclere said, on July 11, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    I can think of many, many reasons besides “love of master” why someone in Alexander’s position would chose to remain as a prisoner of war. The misleading of the Union guards has no bearing on the role Alexander had within or in support of the Confederate army.

    • Andy Hall said, on July 11, 2011 at 1:46 pm

      That’s why it’s such a loss that we don’t have Alexander’s own account, or even that of his former master, to explain this more fully.

      Does anyone know of a first-hand account of a man like Alexander who chose to go into a camp? There are several cases known to have occurred, but I’m not aware of any who told their own story.

  6. focusoninfinity said, on July 11, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    I believe that Irwin Mark Berent of Norfolk, Virginia, wrote a story on a female slave that reported on the construction of the CSS Virginia (several slaves were firemen in the battle). He is a friend of mine. He has researched the USS Monitor and CSS Virginia crews. He’s interested in Confederate Jewish soldiers and sailors. If you e-mail me, I can send you Irwin’s e-mail address.

  7. JMRudy said, on July 12, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    I ran across another of this type of story the other day in the Baltimore Afro-American. The “soldier” name is Abraham Moseley, Company A, 34th Kentucky. Taken to war by his master Lieut. Thomas Moseley, the pair were captured and taken as POWs to Chicago, according to the article. A second, accidental black confederate is mentioned, Charles Howard, who joined a group of soldiers not knowing they were rebels.

    Haven’t gotten the chance to run either to ground at all. CSRs on them would probably yield something interesting.

    Moseley and Howard are mentioned on Page 2, Column 1: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=0wQnAAAAIBAJ&sjid=SAMGAAAAIBAJ&dq=gettysburg&pg=2301%2C4177992

    • Andy Hall said, on July 12, 2011 at 1:10 pm

      Thanks, John. I’ll dig some more later, but at first pass I’m not finding either Moseley in the CWSSS, or the regiment. The Kentucky regiment numbers (36 for the Moseleys; 138 for Howard) seem high. Newspapers sometimes get critical bits like that wrong, which makes tracking stories problematic.

      • JMRudy said, on July 12, 2011 at 1:19 pm

        Yeah, a few of those vets’ stories from ’38 seem suspect. Davis Penny, supposedly of the 5th Ohio, is tough to track as well. Someone with the name Davis Peny (alias Perry) appears in the pension files for Pennsylvania, but this seems to refer to a member of the 27th PEMR from ’63.

  8. Kate said, on July 12, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    I checked with Footnote.com – there’s a Thomas Moseley in the 21st KY Infantry, USA – no other Moseleys or Mosleys from Kentucky, Union or Confederate. There are several Thomas Moseleys from other states on both sides.

    No such regimental numbers.

    I’m gonna class this one as a fairy tale unless other evidence shows up.

    • Andy Hall said, on July 12, 2011 at 1:44 pm

      Kate, thanks. Abraham Mosely certainly appears to have existed — he’s included in a picture on the next page of the paper John links to — but how much else can be confirmed, I don’t know. Given his role as a personal servant, I would not expect there to be a service record for him, except perhaps (as with Hannibal Alexander) his name appearing on a Union roster of prisoners paroled.

      The other thing to be aware of is changes in name. Freedmen didn’t always take their master’s surname, or keep the given names they had before. Richard Quarls lived for years as Christopher Columbus. Hannibal Alexander appears as Hampton on the Camp Douglas roster. And Crock Davis appears to have reverted to the surname Hill, that of his former masters, when attending reunions of the 8th Texas Cavalry. Not always easy to follow.

  9. Neil Hamilton said, on July 15, 2011 at 1:37 am

    Andy,

    To you and your other contributers, it is so refreshing to see actuall research into this question. I enjoy the search for evidence that I see take place whenever the topic is about Black Confederate Soldiers and its presentation here for all to see.

    Thanks to you and the others for their time and effort in doing such.

    Sincerely,
    Neil

    • Andy Hall said, on July 15, 2011 at 11:08 am

      Neil, thanks. A quick anecdote:

      An old friend of mine is a retired teacher. For a time, he taught history at the middle school level. The school he taught in, while not located in a large city, was nonetheless one that had what we’d think of as one with “inner city school” problems — most students from low-income, low-ed-attainment households, public housing, rough neighborhoods, and so on. It was a challenging environment, both for the students and the teachers. (Anyone who thinks teaching is easy, isn’t doing it right.)

      One thing that frustrated him was that when the kids came into his classroom at the start of each year, they were woefully unprepared. They didn’t know how to look up something in the index of their book, or routinely use the table of contents. Their reading comprehension was dismal — although most of them could easily read a paragraph or two from the book, they couldn’t explain what they’d just read. When given an open-book quiz, they’d randomly flip through the pages of their text until they saw a name or date that matched one in the question, and then copy that sentence from the book, verbatim, as their answer, whether it actually had anything to do with the question or not.

      That seems to be a fair analogy to me of what often passes for “research” with BCS. Anything and everything that connects and African American to the Confederate military is tossed out and copy-and-pasted as further evidence, with little or no thought as to whether it’s from a credible source, whether it can be independently corroborated, or even if it makes sense. Most of it is very superficial, and sometimes it’s even outright fraud. BCS advocates generally show no inclination to acknowledge the complexity or limitations of the evidence they cite (e.g., pensions). That’s because most advocates for BCS, in my view, really don’t seem as interested in the stories of the men themselves, as they are with establishing that there were, in fact, black Confederate soldiers. It’s a pre-determined narrative gone looking for documentation, rather than the other way around.

  10. Neil Hamilton said, on July 15, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    Andy,

    Or as Sherlock Holmes said to Watson in the movie of the same name…

    “Never theorize before you have data. Invariably, you end up twisting facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.” :)

    Until our next post,
    Neil

  11. focusoninfinity said, on July 16, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    It does not surprise me that in 1901, a slave of the Civil War era was refereed to as: he was “a very intelligent Negro.” In the still legally segregated 1950′s North Carolina, in the predominant white orientated newspapers, blacks were often referred to as, “a credit to their race”.That was usually sincerely intended as a compliment, not an insult. On the other hand, I don’t recall any white (in the white press) refereed to as “a credit to the Caucasian race”.

    More interesting to me is the line: “Invariably you end up twisting facts to suit theories, instead of (twisted or not?) theories to suit facts”. This is much like my own observation: An ideologue (left, right, Liberal, Conservative) is a person to whom the facts must conform to their ideology to be acceptable; rather than their ideology to conform to the facts. Despite this; that does not always mean an ideologue, be they left or right. is always wrong. They can be right; but as often for the wrong reasons, as for the right reasons. Allegedly there are generals who lost all, or most of their battles; yet won the war. Also the reverse; generals who won all, or most of their battles; yet lost the war. However I can think of no general that did this, per se.

    I do suspect General Grant did do the math, and realized that even if the North lost twice as many soldiers as the South; the North mathematically, would still win. Can’t prove it, but suspect it. General McClellan is often ridiculed as ineffective. He may have been ineffective in effectively using a well prepared Army; but I give him credit in preparing an army to be effective for the next general to use, effectively in combat. As a purely staff officer, McClellan likely merits a ‘B’, if not an ‘A’. As a line officer, he’d be lucky with a ‘C’. I think Lincoln recognized that. But did McClellan himself recognize that? I doubt it?

    • Andy Hall said, on July 16, 2011 at 1:35 pm

      It does not surprise me that in 1901, a slave of the Civil War era was refereed to as: he was “a very intelligent Negro.” In the still legally segregated 1950′s North Carolina, in the predominant white orientated newspapers, blacks were often referred to as, “a credit to their race”.That was usually sincerely intended as a compliment, not an insult.

      Descriptions like that of Alexander follow a very formulaic pattern in white publications in the South generally, not just Confederate Veteran but in newspapers and elsewhere. It’s almost invariably framed as hard work, modest — not great — financial success, and deference to whites that is in turn rewarded by recognition and respect from the white community. In short, men like Alexander keep their place and are praised for their success in a narrowly-prescribed area where they do not directly challenge white hegemony. If you look at descriptions of African American men who attended Confederate reunions, the very same themes are present. In both cases, the unspoken inference is to reaffirm the the social/cultural order that had attained all along. “Uppity” Negroes need not apply.

      It’s like that great line, attributed to Dick Gregory — “Down South they don’t care how close I get, so long as I don’t get too big. Up North they don’t care how big I get, so long as I don’t get too close.”

      As Marc and other suggest, it would be fascinating to have Alexander’s own, unvarnished take on this event, as opposed to this, which is at second- or third-hand.

  12. focusoninfinity said, on July 17, 2011 at 1:22 am

    It’s “Sir”vival!

    I agree. It was an era, and not confined to the South, when a white might tell a black, he was “looking at him wrong”. At times it was safest for a black to down-cast his eyes when talking with some whites. I even played that role once aboard the USS Hancock with my X-Division personnel officer. I’d refused to sign an extended enlistment; they even had me “under lights” like in the movies which only made me madder and I was only under it five or ten minutes when I was being “tempted” with a glass of water which was plain silly. I got mad and told the officer that, that weekend I’d be going to see the San Francisco, American Liberties Union. The officer then “confined me to ship” that weekend. This “uppity” enlisted asked him under what authority? He said he was acting under his (a Latin term for parent), to keep some lawyer from fleecing me out of money. I stewed it over a day or two; considered what he was doing as totally unethical; and therefore by necessity, my being un-ethical, that is lying: was justified. Friday before quitting time, I went down, eyes to the “ground”, white-hat rolling in hands, saying he was right, and Man I Wanted a Beer (I don’t drink), those lawyers just want my money. Nice guy, he said I got my liberty back. Don’t separate a sailor from his beer. Stereotypes.

    At the Civil Liberalness Union, a girl lawyer really wanted the case (involuntary extension of enlistment by a month, they said they’d made a mistake; but I’d committed no fraud. Had I done that, they could extend it.) and she went to the lawyer in-charge; but he (correctly) told her it should go to a lawyer with Navy experience. The guy lawyer, an Annapolis graduate, said the personnel officer was wrong but I was trying to make “a federal case” out it; all it would take was a chat with “the old man” (the Commanding Officer) and that would correct it. The lawyer called the C.O., but the X.O. (liberals over-use the term “Fascist type”, but he was and held the C.O. in contempt; and yes the C.O. was too nice a sweet guy) . The X.O. heard the ex-Annapolis lawyer out and said he could not speak with the C.O. The lawyer said, but every sailor in a reasonable way had the right to petition the C.O. Hanging-up; the lawyer said that was why he got out of the Navy, it didn’t even obey it’s own rules. I asked what I should do? He didn’t know!

    I’d gotten mad and told the personnel officer he’d better check with BUPERS before he involuntarily changed my contract. He told me, He Didn’t Have To Check With Anybody. A Jewish lad I’d been trying to help with a personal problem (his dad owned 17 drug stores and wanted him in the business; he just wanted to open a stamp collecting store. He was shy, his dad apparently bossy.The boy dreaded getting out of the Navy.) told me the personnel officer had telegraphed BUPERS for permission. The lad also thought I was wrong going up against “authority”. I was sure BUPERS would not authorize it. Then the Jewish boy told me it came back authorized. Shocked I went to the personnel officer who was proud to wave it in my face. I got the personnelman’s name and desk number who authorized it and that Friday took it to the Annapolis grad who tried to phone the personnelman–but he never was in. The lawyer said he felt he was talking with the personnelman who was saying he was not there. He didn’t know what to do? I said his desk number was the same as his phone extension, let me call a phone number two numbers lower. I asked is this personnelman whomever? He said no, wrong number; but he was looking at him, use his number. I explained this was long distance; it would only take a second. When our target answered, I told him who I was and this lawyer standing-by wanted to talk with him. The personnelman said that was unnecessary, I’d receive a telegram rescinding it in 24 hours. I said he’d have no problem AFTER HE TOLD THE LAWYER. He did, and the extension was canceled, but never admitting they were wrong.

    Out, a decade later, I learned in the newspapers that though you had an honorable discharge, they could but code numbers meaning “your a fag/homosexual” and I’d never know it; but a big corporate personnel office would know what the code meant. I sent a copy of my discharge in to the civil liberties union; what did the code numbers means? They said I was getting an “early” discharge from the Navy to accept a commission in the Army. Gee, neither I nor the Army knew that? The Navy is never wrong, sailor. I don’t blame the blacks of old for casting their eyes to the ground, nor I doing the same. Sometimes when the all-powerful tell you to dance; you ask them, “Sir, what step do you want?”. It’s “Sir”vival!


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