THE ICON: Capt. Andre Cailloux
THE LEGACY: Port Hudson had to fall. That was the thinking. With Gen. Grant besieging Vicksburg upstream, if the Union Army was to secure unfettered access to the Mississippi River, it had to take Port Hudson, just above Baton Rouge. And so, on May 17, 1863, Capt. Andre Cailloux, a free man of color from New Orleans, led a regiment of fellow black soldiers in a charge against an entrenched Confederate position there as part of a larger Union siege. He wouldn’t survive the day, becoming one of the first black battlefield casualties of the Civil War. His name would live on, though. Thousands turned out for his funeral in New Orleans, and his name would become a national rallying cry, used to recruit other black warriors to the cause — and blowing holes in the myth that black soldiers weren’t suited for battle.
THE ARTIST: D. Lammie Hanson, WhereYart.net
THE INSPIRATION: “Both in life and in death, the strength and courage of Capt. Andre Cailloux, whose last name could be loosely translated as ‘the Rock,’ inspired and united people of African descent in their struggle for that new birth of freedom that Lincoln had so eloquently proclaimed.” — historian Stephen J. Ochs, in a 2013 article for The New York Times