It could very well be unique in the whole United States. State Sen. Roy Dyson (D: 29th) assured the attendees at the unveiling of the Unites States Colored Troops Civil War Memorial Monument at Lancaster Park in Lexington Park on Saturday that the monument is indeed one of a kind.
The monument honors the 700 black soldiers from St. Mary’s County who fought for the Union Army during the Civil War and specifically the three men from St. Mary’s County who received a Medal of Honor during the war. Two of the men, Sgt. William Barnes and Sgt. James Harris, were members of the 38th Colored Troops. The third Medal of Honor recipient, a white man, was U.S. Navy Quarter Master Joseph Hayden.
A large crowd attended the two-hour ceremony that was the culmination of more than 20 years of dedication on the part of Idolia Shubrooks. It is indeed also a monument to persistence, as several speakers noted at the event.
Shubrooks’ mission began with the opening of a box. She wrote in a message in the event’s souvenir program: “Many years ago our mother explained that her father served in the military and there was an old musket in the attic that could still contain ammunition. She admonished us not to go in the attic. My brother and I as kids peeked in the attic as curious kids and saw the old gun, and an old rusty box.”
Years later the gun and box were given to Shubrooks by her mother and stored in a garage. A fire destroyed the gun but not the box. “I decided to look in the old rusty box and to my surprise it revealed a connection to the old musket and military documents. the box contained. The box consisted of my grandfather’s muster papers, pension documents from USCT; marriage license, promissory note, tax bill and deed to property purchased in 1891, where I currently reside.”
That led Shubrooks to noted Baltimore historian Agnes Callum, who has written three books on the United States Colored Troops (USCT). From that, Shubrooks said, “I decided my mission was to preserve this historical part of history about the USCT’s contributions and educate everyone.” Callum was a guest of honor at the event.
The monument vision was taken on by the United Communities for Afro-American Contributions (UCAC) and by James H. Harris Camp #38, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW). Funding came from a number of individuals and community groups plus a $250,000 bond bill from the Maryland General Assembly and donation of the land for the monument from the county commissioners.
Shubrooks and Harris Camp #38 Commander Duane Whitlock unveiled the statue that depicts a young member of the USCT carrying a rifle. Behind the sta