Seven hundred very courageous men will be honored this weekend. Their service may have kept Cincinnati from falling to the Confederates in the Civil War.
One hundred fifty years ago this month Cincinnati rounded up hundreds of African Americans against their will and put them to work defending the Kentucky side of the Ohio River. Abolitionists and the press forced their release. Watch this video for the story. The next day, even with the fear of slavery in Kentucky, double the number came forward freely to help fortify the area. President of the Friends of the Harriet Beecher Stowe House Chris DeSimio says you know the forts as Ft. Wright, Ft. Henry, Ft. Thomas and Ft. Mitchell.
"The forts helped turn the Confederate Army which was a large army away from Cincinnati. Had Cincinnati fallen just imagine how the civil war could have turned out."
These 718 men are honored at the new Black Brigade Monument at Smale Riverfront Park. The monument dedication is scheduled for Sunday at 5:30 complete with the Cincinnati Pops. DeSimio says special artifacts related to the Brigade are at the Freedom Center, including a rare flag.
"This flag is a very large artifact and it's not a replica. It is the actual flag carried by this brigade. it is like a sacred relic that's on display at the Freedom Center for anyone who comes. it will be there at least six months but this weekend you can view it and catch all the other artifacts."
DeSimio says rally around the flag as a reminder of the service and courage it took for these men to protect Cincincinnati.
(Chris DeSimio is the host of On The Money on WVXU's Cincinnati Edition, Saturday mornings at 7.)