Enlisting in the Palo Alto Confederates in 1861 from his home in Palo Alto, Mississippi, at the age of fifteen, Andrew Martin Chandler was mustered into Company “F” of Blythe’s Mississippi Infantry, Forty-Fourth Mississippi Infantry.
He participated in several campaigns with his childhood playmate, friend, and former slave, seventeen-year-old Silas Chandler.
Andrew was captured at Shiloh and was held prisoner in Ohio, while Silas made repeated trips home to Mississippi to bring Andrew needed goods.
Andrew was exchanged, and he and Silas returned to their unit.
Andrew was later wounded at Chickamauga.
Army surgeons prepared to amputate his leg, but Silas used a piece of gold given to him by Andrew’s mother to buy whiskey to bribe the surgeons to release him.
He carried Andrew on his back for several miles and loaded him onto a boxcar heading to Atlanta, and once there, Andrew was taken to a hospital, where Silas cared for him until the family could join them.
Andrew’s leg, and possibly his life, were saved by Silas’ attention and efforts.
The following is from a 1950 typed transcript of handwritten notes from an interview with Andrew Martin Chandler conducted in 1912:
He served in the Confederate Army, and even in 1912, was still true to the cause.
He told me much about his service in the army, even though he considered his contribution as rather slight, being that of less importance than any soldier in the ranks.
While there, he told me of another Silas Chandler that served with him in the Army.
This Silas was a former slave owned by his parents, who were papered out just before the war.
Even though he was granted his freedom, he insisted on going off to war with Andrew, partially because of their friendship, and partially because since Silas was a little older, he felt that he needed to protect Andrew.
Andrew told me that even though Silas was considered a servant by the other men and Blacks in the unit, he was very much an equal, displaying just as much hatred for the Yankees as anyone in the whole unit!
Andrew then showed me an old picture of the two of them together, and while they appeared as mere boys, the look of stern determination on their faces tells the whole story of their dedication to each other and their country.”
Andrew and Silas returned to Palo Alto, remained fast friends, lived close by each other, and, in 1878, Andrew signed the papers which resulted in Silas receiving a Mississippi Confederate Veteran Pension.
Andrew gave Silas land adjoining one of the Chandler plantations on which Silas built a church for the Black population of Palo Alto.
Andrew Martin Chandler, born 03 April 1846, died 07 May 1920, and veteran of the Forty-Fourth Mississippi Infantry, Confederate States of America, rests in Palo Alto beneath a gravestone decorated with Confederate symbols within the family graveyard, which is surrounded by an iron fence. Just across the road, the church Silas built still stands, and the past members of that church also lie in rest on all three sides of Andrew Chandler.
Silas Chander, Black Confederate veteran, and faithful friend lies eight to ten miles away, his grave now decorated with a Confederate Iron Cross deservedly placed there in a Confederate Honor Service years ago under the guidance of the Mississippi Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
Andrew’s great-grandson, Andrew Chandler Battaile, still lives in Mississippi, while Silas’ great great great grandson, Bobbie Chandler, lives in the Northeast. Years ago, the two men reunited and restored the family relationship.
Drawing by French illustrator Serge Baudouard (2012) for the Confederate & Federal club of France (CWRT of France)