William Carney, African American Hero In The American Civil War
William Carney was born a slave in Norfolk, Virginia in 1840. His father, William Sr, escaped North via the Underground Railroad and after working hard, was able to buy freedom for the rest of his family. They settled in Massachusetts where young William learned to read and write, planning to become a minister.
However, in 1863, 23 year old William Carney joined the 54th Massachusetts Black Regiment. He was now a soldier in the American Civil War.
In July of that year, the 54th had joined other Union forces outside Charleston, South Carolina to take part in the assault on Fort Wagner, one of the installations guarding Charleston Harbor.
On the 18th, the 54th was taking cover behind sand dunes about 1000 yards from the fort. When nightfall arrived, orders were passed down the line. The 54th was leading the attack on Fort Wagner.
After dressing their lines, the regiment advanced across open ground under withering cannon and musket fire. Seeing the color bearer start to fall, Carney quickly dropped his gun and grabbed the flag moving to the front of the line. He and the 54th continued forward through a storm of bullets and artillery fire. Soldiers fell with terrible wounds but the regiment kept going with Carney at the front holding the American flag aloft.
He crossed a ditch and clambered up the fort’s earthen wall. When Carney arrived at the top and looked around, he realized he was the only one standing as wounded and dead soldiers surrounded him.
Seeing Confederate forces moving in on him, Carney worked his way back down the wall through the carnage and made it to the ditch that was now waist deep in water. Crouched down, he thought about the best course of action. As he rose up to get a look around, William Carney was shot. A second bullet struck him shortly after. While Carney was painfully pushing his way towards friendly lines, a soldier from another regiment spotted him and asked if he was wounded. As Carney responded, a third bullet grazed his arm. The Union soldier helped him, and together they struggled back to Union lines during which a fourth bullet grazed Carney’s head.
When they made it back, he refused to give up the flag to anyone except another member of his regiment. Once they reached survivors of the 54th, Carney said, “Boys, the old flag never touched the ground.”
In 1900, William Carney was awarded The Medal of Honor.
The Story Of Rin Tin Tin
I wonder how many people know the true story of Rin Tin Tin. Sadly, these days, most probably don’t even know who he was. But in his day, Rin Tin Tin was a movie star!
A canine movie star!
Yep, you heard me right!
It all started during the horrors of World War 1.
The year was 1918 in the Lorraine part of France. Corporal Lee Duncan was an American soldier caught up in the bloody conflict. On September 15, his unit was investigating a bombed out kennel when they discovered among the wreckage a German Shepherd mother with a litter of 5 puppies.
Duncan took two of the puppies, naming them Rin Tin Tin and Nanette, after a couple of puppets popular with French children. Sadly the others didn’t survive.
Duncan realized how intelligent Nanette and Rinty (Rin Tin Tin’s nickname) were. He sought out the German Army Kennel Master, who had been captured, to learn more about the two and German Shepherds as a breed.
Duncan started training them and was impressed with how quickly they took to it. After the war came to an end, Duncan was sent home aboard a ship across the Atlantic Ocean. Unfortunately, Nanette came down with distemper during the voyage and died.
Only Rinty was left.
Duncan took him back to Los Angeles where in 1922, Rinty began his movie career.
He starred in some 2 dozen movies and is credited by many with saving Warner Bros Studio from bankruptcy. He also received the most votes for Best Actor for the First Academy Awards, though it was decided to give the award to a human instead.
Rin Tin Tin passed away on August 10, 1932 in his front yard in the arms of famous actress Jean Harlow, who lived in the same neighborhood.