Wordless Wednesday: A Confederate’s Monument to His Slave

Confederate fighter William Hill Howcott erected this monument to his slave, Willis Howcott in Canton, Mississippi (Photo courtesy Joel Brink)

As I mentioned in an earlier post, while the Howcott/Howcutt family are not blood relatives, our families are connected.  Their ancestor, Hill Jones is the earliest owner I can find of my great, great-grandmother, Temple Burton. William Hill Howcott, Hill Jones’s grandson, erected the monument pictured above in Canton, Mississippi to honor his slave, Willis.  William Hill was a member of Harvey’s Scouts, a special unit in the Confederate Army. According to Joel Brink’s Howcott family memoir, the young slave, Willis was killed accompanying his master into battle…with the Confederates. The strange institution of slavery never ceases to amaze.

Read more about this unusual monument at the website of my quasi-cousin, Francis Howcutt.

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9 Comments

Filed under Howcutt/Howcott, slavery, Uncategorized

9 responses to “Wordless Wednesday: A Confederate’s Monument to His Slave

  1. Dionne,
    It makes me think of “Stockholm Syndrome”, when someone who is kidnapped for a long period of time begins to sympathize with his/her captors. It is confusing. I wonder if he went into battle willingly. It is amazing that Willis was memorialized in this way. I would think that it would mean he was quite loved, but if that is true, why would he be kept as a slave? There is confusion on both sides of this issue I suppose.
    It’s a beautiful monument, nevertheless. Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Lori. Thanks for the comments. Stockholm Syndrome sounds like a distinct possibility. I’ve never come across anything like this before. Thought it was worth sharing. Best, Dionne

  2. What a nice monument and tribute

  3. Confusing, thought-provoking, beautiful – this site is really opening my eyes to the complexities of relationships at that time.

  4. brian mclaughlin

    this kind of makes you think that there were at times loyalties and actual bonds (family style bonds) between some slave owners and their slaves. could willis’ going into battle with his owner have been an act of total dependancy on him, maybe, who knows! but a monument of this size dedicated to the slave itself, i think says something else. maybe, just maybe there were a few slave owners who were not total tyrants. dionne, hopefully your family were treated well for the time in which they lived.

  5. Fannie Marie Jackson Gibbs

    I accidentally discovered your webpage while searching for words to put on several monuments that we have working on for over 100 years. ALL my ancestors were staunch, dedicated supporters of the Confederacy. We have agonized over this for too long and have decided to PUT IT OUT THERE!My brothers’ body of works “Climbing Jacob’s Ladder to Draw From the Well-1800 to 2010 Brooks County GA-The Collections of O.L.Jackson,Sr” includes historical artifacts, oral and written documentation of intimate family ties to early 1800 Irwin County Ga history and eye-witness testimony of the Mary and Hayes Turner lynching of 1918 and its impact on family and American history. My home prides itself on being “The Breadbasket of the Confederacy”. Assisting my brother with this endeavor of faith allowed me to grow and heal and yes, be proud of my ancestors, too!! Anyone interested can attend our dedication on September 4, 2010 on Jackson Road in Morven, GA. And, yes, there is a family connection to the late US President Andrew Jackson. More info call (229)560-3972 or (229) 269-3248.

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