File under: I want a pony. And also my freedom, and that of 4 million other slaves.
Mary Bowser was only one of many African Americans whose intelligence proved critical to the Union army.
"On Jan. 24, 1862, a slave named Harry escaped to the Union picket line. Rather than return him to his owner, as other officers might have, Captain William Heine took him on as a guide and servant. He gave him a uniform, a pistol, a sabre and 'a good horse.' A full year before the Emancipation Proclamation or the enlistment of black soldiers, Harry became the first black cavalryman of the war. He knew every road and path in the area, and . . . [five days later] he was leading an armed raid against his former owners." Harry's story is included in a great recent piece in Disunion
in the New York Times