In December 1862 Robert Thompson was a flag bearer. Private Thompson was carrying the flag during a little-known battle called Kinston, South Carolina. Carrying the colors during the Civil War was like having a “shoot me” sign on your woolen blue uniform. Robert was carrying the flag for Pennsylvania volunteers when a Confederate cannonball hit the wood staff about an inch above his right hand. The shell blew the staff out of his hands, knocked him out of the battle, and out of the shooting war. Before he was taken captive, he reflexively picked up a piece of white and blue flag cord blown off by the blast. His days of fighting for his country weren’t over. He spent the remainder of the war in POW camps fighting to stay alive. He spent many of those months at the infamous place of horror known as Andersonville Prison.
Every day at Andersonville was deprivation and death. Every day, men died of disease. Men recalled the constant “buzz” of fat flies. Men who had clothes were fortunate. Some men were naked. A prison that was intended to hold 10,000 swelled to 33,000. Men dug holes in the dirt for shelter. When my ancestor was finally liberated, he was a physical wreck. He carried his injuries with him for the rest of his life. When Union soldiers greeted him he was wearing tatters for clothes, but he still had the white and blue flag cord he picked up off the ground at Kinston.
Robert was the direct and actual victim of injury suffered and he was awarded a pension. $12 a month. The demand for reparation for ancestors of slaves has never made sense to me. When FDR sent thousands of Americans to internment camps because their ancestors were Japanese, that was an ugly stain on America. Japanese Americans who suffered that fate deserved every cent of reparation, and frankly more for Roosevelt’s illegal and unconstitutional order. They were direct victims. Many are still alive today. They suffered the injury. Their great-grandchildren are not demanding their own reparations. Calling for reparations for Americans
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