In Memorial – Henry "Dad" Brown, Black Confederate Drummer



NOV.2, 1907

Age 77 Years



Excerpts – The Darlington Press – November 1907


Drummer of Darlington Guards And Well Known And Highly Respected Colored Man

On Saturday afternoon the old drummer Henry Brown, well known colored man, passed away. …the Darlington Guards assembled at their armory and marched to the house under arms. There the Captain was requested to detail pall bearers from the ranks, which he did.

When the body was brought out, the company stood at present arms. The line of march was then taken up to the church. …When the church was reached a representative five number of the white citizens of the town acting as pall bearers took the body into the church the Company again presenting arms.

The colored Masons…took its way to the cemetery where the rest of the masonic ritual was given…the bugler Mr. Angus Gainey sounded “taps” very softly and the Company fired three rounds over the grave. Should the stranger in our gates ask, “What mean ye by this service. Why should white people thus pay honor to a colored man?” The answer would be because he was a man. In life he was faithful to every trust, his word was his bond and not only were his friends numbered among those who live in Darlington but wherever he was known and that was throughout the length and breadth of the State.

The grave was covered with beautiful flowers, the offerings of his friends, both white and colored. Only in the South where the negro is known and appreciated could such a demonstration could have been seen, it was a cordial recognition of the worth of a citizen of this county whose death was a loss to the community.

Tribute to Henry Brown From Gen. W.E. James,

Who Knew Him Well

On Saturday evening Henry Brown, a most highly respected colored man, died. He had lived a long life and had been one of the land marks of this community, and from his conservative and upright life he had commanded the respect of both white and colored people. …The Darlington Guards in full uniform with arms marched to his late residence and were placed in front of the hearse…it was determined that a number of white gentlemen should act as pall bearers—should take charge of the body and attend it from his residence to the colored Presbyterian church of which he was a member. Arriving at the church the Guards presented arms and the white pall bearers took it into the church…

Henry Brown came from Camden and had been a free man all his life…When the War broke out Henry Brown went with the Darlington Guards…and remained with that company until the 1st Regiment was disbanded. He then went with the 8th Regiment to Virginia as the drummer for that regiment. He was regularly enlisted in Company E…and he remained with that regiment till its reorganization in 1862, when all above the age of thirty-five were discharged….on the 21st of July ’61 the regiment was stationed at Mitchels Ford on the South side of Bull Run. The battle began two miles above and at 12 o’clock the regiment was ordered to go where the battle was raging. As soon as the order came Henry began to beat the long roll. This indicated to a battery on the other side of the Run the position of the regiment and the shells began to fall thick and fast. It was some time before the Colonel could stop him but he was beating all the time regardless of the danger. He followed on to the battlefield and was under fire with the others.

After leaving the 8th regiment he joined Capt. S.H. Wilds’ company and remained with the 21st S.C. regiment to the close of the war.

When…the reconstruction period began…Henry was given the office of Coroner, which he held for a while, but when he saw the injuries that were being done to the white people by those men who were in office, he allied himself with the white people and remained so for the rest of his life. When Camp Darlington No. 785 U.C.V. was organized he had his name enrolled and never missed a reunion…He prided himself on being a Veteran and took great interest in the camp. We shall miss him. He has gone to join the great majority of those who marched to the tap of his drum. But we, too, shall soon follow them.

W.E. James

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copyright © 2003, Michael Kelley