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Paducah honors black Civil War soldiers

Paducah honors black Civil War soldiers
PADUCAH, Ky. (AP) — A troop made up of predominantly black soldiers that defended Paducah from Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest now has a marker in its honor.
The 8th Colored Heavy Artillery held off an assault by Forrest’s troops on Fort Anderson, a fortress where the Julian Carroll convention Center in Paducah now stands. The 8th was the first unit formed and posted to Kentucky to accept black troops.
Jim Hank of Paducah, a member of Friends of the 8th, told The Paducah Sun that where the soldiers fought is “hallowed ground” similar to World War II battlefields where American troops fought and died.
“There were freemen and slaves alike that enlisted. A man could go from slave to a free soldier just by enlisting. His wife and children were also freed,” Hank said.
The Friends of the 8th raised $2,300 to purchase the official Kentucky historical marker commemorating the battle.
George Sholar of Cadiz took a personal interest in the dedication. Sholar said his great-great-grandfather was one of the Union soldiers who saved the fort from Forrest and his men.
Sholar has been active in researching the contributions of black troops during the Civil War, including service at Fort Donelson at Dover.
“This is an honor that is really long overdue,” Sholar said.
McCracken Judge Executive Van Newberry said he was proud to contribute to the historical marker and discussed the role the battle played in history.
“The black soldiers assigned to this fort used their heavy artillery to drive off the attack. It was one of the few times Nathan Bedford Forrest met with failure,” Newberry said.
Information from: The Paducah Sun, http://www.paducahsun.com Published in The Messenger 10.26.11

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