Fred Grant, John Burns, Jennie Wade, and Black Confederates

Sometimes when it comes to the status of “soldier,” it’s worthwhile to offer a few comparisons to allow people to ponder what they mean when they say what they say.

Was Fred Grant a Civil War soldier? The eldest son of Ulysses S. Grant accompanied his father on the Vicksburg campaign … and was hit at Big Black River. He was just shy of his thirteenth birthday. His name can be found on the interior wall of the Illinois monument at Vicksburg. He ate army food. Was he on the payroll or rosters? No.

Was John Burns a Civil War soldier? The story of how Burns came out to the McPherson Farm on July 1 and joined in with the Union defenders of that area is well known. He fired at Confederate soldiers. He was wounded several times. He fell into enemy hands. Was he on a roster? No. Was he paid? No. Does his name appear on the Pennsylvania state monument? I believe not, although there is a statue to Burns on the field.

Was Jennie Wade a Civil War soldier? After all, when she was killed on July 3, she was making bread, supposedly for Union soldiers. That might raise questions as to her status as a non-combatant. Her name does not appear on a paymaster’s roll or a roster, and her name does not appear on the Pennsylvania stateĀ monumentĀ  although there is a statue of her outside the house where she was killed.

So, tell me … were any of these people Civil War soldiers? How do you relate that assessment to the notion that an enslaved African American who was an officer’s body servant, a teamster, or a cook was a soldier in the Confederate army?