The Community Advisory Council on Inclusive Recognition and Acknowledgment presented the Pulaski Board of Mayor and Aldermen with its first request during last week’s work session.
Vivian Sims, a 92-year-old teacher of 47 years and chair of the committee, said recognizing the 110th and 111th regiments of the United States Colored Troops (USCT) that were stationed at Fort Hill in Pulaski was the recommendation.
Having been raised in New York City and moving to Tennessee in 1946 to attend Fisk University, Sims said she had not known that the colored troops had even existed until much later in her life.
After purchasing a home that was built in 1835, she began to wonder what had happened to that house during the Civil War and even had it placed on the National Register of Historic Places, Sims said, adding that her inquiries led her to wanting to do more research.
When encountering some reenactors for the USCT, she said they gave her a brochure on the history of the troops.
“I had no idea that they existed,” Sims said, adding that she then went to the library to inquire about them and found that Fort Hill, which is right above her house, was the campground for the black soldiers.
That discovery, she said, was a precursor to the next.
After finding out 2,400 black men in the area had been freed by Abraham Lincoln to join the Union Army when there was a need for soldiers during the Civil War, she “became even more interested,” Sims said.
“It almost became an obsession of mine and a passion of mine. It was all I could think about.”
She recalled how she could almost “hear the singing and dancing and the noises and shouting” as she listened from her home by Fort Hill.
Sims said those discoveries were one of the reasons she joined the Community Advisory Council on Inclusive Recognition and Acknowledgment, so she could help bring honor to those who have impacted the community.
Of the 110th and 111th regiment who fought in Pulaski, she said 45 of those men are buried in Maplewood Cemetery and other cemeteries in Giles County.
“They are not just here in Pulaski, but all over the United States,” Sims said, adding that these soldiers [those stationed in Pulaski and elsewhere] did not talk about their service in the war, after it had ended, for fear of retaliation.
Sims presented the city council with a request for those men to be honored, so “people could see that the United States Colored Troops existed.”
Mayor Pat Ford said he had asked the committee to come back to the board with “well vetted recommendations” and that “they had done just that.”
The city council was to vote on this request during its regular session yesterday (Tuesday).
“They have done an incredible job of doing the research,” Alderman Ricky Keith, who had attended all the committee’s meetings, said.
Once voted on, if approved, the request will go back to the Community Advisory Council for it to determine how to best recognize these soldiers.
Alderman Randy Massey said he owns property where the troops fought on Fort Hill, and he himself will commission a plaque to be put up there with all the names engraved on it.