Marker Honors All-Black Infantry

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A historical marker was unveiled Thursday honoring an all-black unit of citizen soldiers who volunteered to serve their country in the years after they were freed from slavery.

The Capital City Guard was formed around 1885 but forced to disband two decades later, apparently when whites became incensed when the unit played ``The Battle Hymn of the Republic'' in a parade.

The infantry unit was mostly forgotten after it disbanded, and blacks were not accepted into the Alabama National Guard until more than 60 years later.

Interest in the unit was revived when Alabama State University was given an old photograph showing the unit's commander, Capt. Abraham Calvin Caffey, standing in front of the unit on the steps of the Alabama Capitol.

``The unit represented pe
ople from all parts of the black community. They were doctors, shoemakers, bakers, a newspaper editor, just like today's reservists,'' said researcher Ron Myers, of the university's National Center for the Study of Civil Rights and African-American Culture. Caffey's great-grandson, Joseph Trimble, said the picture hung for years on a wall in an uncle's house.

Caffey ``was a carpenter and he was a very well-disciplined forward thinker. He believed in standing up for what he believed to be right,'' said Trimble, a captain in the Alabama National Guard.

During the Spanish-American War, the unit was federalized and sent to Mobile. But Caffey and other black officers were replaced by white officers and not deployed to Cuba.

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