Banner for the 22th Regt. U.S. Colored Troops, by David Bustill Bowser. Organized at Philadelphia in January 1864, the 22nd U. S. Colored Troops Infantry Regiment lost 217 men during the last year of the Civil War. David Bustill Bowser was a self-taught black artis; he designed regimental flags for eleven African-American units and also painted portraits of Abraham Lincoln and John Brown.
Bowswer sent the 127th and 3rd regiments off to war carrying banners reading “We will prove ourselves men” and “Rather Die Freemen, Than Live To Be Slaves.” The 45th’s banner, proclaimed “One Cause, One Country,” while the 24th’s banner depicts a black soldier ascending a hill, his arms outstretched in prayer, beneath the words “Let Soldiers in War, Be Citizens in Peace.”
What I find interesting about this particular image is that Bowser utilized the Virginia state motto before Lincoln’s assassination in April 1865. We almost automatically associate this phrase with Booth’s deed. The Confederate has tossed aside his sword and flag and must await his fate, which is now in the hands of what I assume to be a former slave. The tables are now turned and both the future of this Confederate soldier and of the South rest in the hands of those who were once oppressed. This is a very powerful example of the emancipationist legacy of the Civil War.
Note: Assuming that the soldier is a former slave than this is also an interesting example of The South v. The South theme.
[Image from Library of Congress]