A Black Rebel Visits York County
Ask the average person on the street about their typical image of a Civil War Confederate soldier and quite often the reply will be some stereotype of a backwoods, illiterate, gun-happy “hillbilly,” or some slave-owning plantation gentleman fighting for “states rahts.” However, such was more often than not atypical. The Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, a part of which was here in York County, was a diverse mixture of people from all factions of life. Rich and poor, educated and ignorant, skillful in the outdoor sports and store clerks who had never fired a gun before, secessionist and politically ambivalent, and slaveowners and abolitionists all combined into one of the greatest fighting forces in American history to that time.
What is not often recognized are those free black men who willingly enlisted in the Confederate service, one of whom visited York County in the waning days of June 1863.
Charles F. Lutz was born in St. Landry Parish in June 1842 to a white father of Germanic heritage, Frederick Guillaume Lutz, and a mulatto mother, Caroline Marx (or Manse). Light skinned, he was able to pass himself off as a white person and enlist in the Opelousas Guards in the hysteria after the bombardment of Fort Sumter. That small command formed the genesis of Company F of the 8th Louisiana. Lutz trained at Camp Moore and accompanied the regiment to Virginia and its early battles.
He was wounded at the Battle of Salem Church near Fredericksburg, Virginia, on May 3, 1863, when the regiment was defending Marye’s Heights against the Union VI Corps. Along with more than one hundred other Tigers, he fell into Federal hands and was captured. He was imprisoned for two weeks before being paroled and then exchanged. He traveled to the Tigers’ camp near Fredericksburg in late May in time to rejoin the regiment prior to the Gettysburg Campaign.
Lutz was shot in the left forearm during the Tigers’ attack on Cemetery Hill during the Battle of Gettysburg. He was captured and taken to the Davids’ Island Prison on Long Island, where he recuperated until he was well enough for steamship travel. He was paroled on September 16, 1863, and exchanged for the second time in the war. He traveled from his release place, City Point, Virginia, home to Opelousas, Louisiana, and was off duty for the rest of the war on medical furlough.
In some unknown altercation in his hometown in May or June of 1864, he was shot in the right arm, which necessitated its amputation. He then moved to Polk County, Texas, to live with his brother. At the close of the Civil War, Lutz was formally discharged from the Confederate army in Houston in May 1865. He later married and returned to Louisiana, where he filed three times to collect a pension, succeeding in 1900. With his light skin, he was listed in the U.S. Censuses of 1880 and 1900 as a white man. He died April 9, 1910, and was buried in Magnolia Cemetery in Westlake, Louisiana.
As far is known, he is one of the very few blacks in a Confederate uniform that passed through York County.
In a future installment, we will discuss Sam Jackson, a full-blooded Indian who was in the Georgia Brigade during its parade through York on June 28, 1863.
Source: Bergeron, Arthur W., Jr., “Free Men of Color in Grey,” Civil War History, Vol. XXXII, Number 3, September 1986