He was in for the right thing.
by Lisa Y. Henderson
Charles Wynn filed claim #9340 with the Southern Claims Commission. On 1 July 1872, he testified: “I am fifty-five years of age, reside in Wayne County, North Carolina …. I resided during the war in Wayne County, North Carolina, on my own land. It contained about 230 acres, 100 of which was under cultivation.” Tony Roberts, age 40, colored, testified that he lived about a quarter of a mile from Wynn during the war and saw him often. Roberts said Wynn “believed the Union army would succeed, that he thought its cause wasa right, and he was in for the right thing. He said that secession would ruin the country, and he thought its cause was right, and he was in for the right thing.” William H. Thompson, age 28, colored, swore that he had known Wynn for 24 years and saw him every four months or so during the war. He said Wynn “hoped that the Union army would be successful, put down the rebellion and do away with slavery” and revealed that the Confederate government occasionally pressed Wynn’s wagons and drivers into service to haul its goods. (Confederate archives revealed two vouchers for hauling arms from Fayetteville to Raleigh, dated in 1862, and signed by others on behalf of Wynn.)
In December 1898, a special attorney rejected the claims of Wynn’s estate: “We do not care to review the testimony in the case. If the testimony were offered in behalf of a white man under the same circumstances, it would scarcely be sufficient to prove loyalty. But in view of the fact that the claimant was a colored man, his loyalty must be largely presumed from his natural sympathies with those of his own color and those who were fighting, as the colored man believed, in his behalf.”