Funeral for a former slave takes center stage at Appomattox

APPOMATTOX, Va. (AP) – A Civil War cannonball that ripped through Hannah Reynolds’ master’s cabin made her a footnote of misfortune, the lone civilian death at the Battle of Appomattox Court House. She died a slave at 60, hours before the war to end slavery unofficially came to a close.

A century and a half later, Reynolds’ story is being rewritten: Newly discovered records show that she lingered for several days – long enough to have died a free woman.

This new historical narrative has made Reynolds one of the central figures in commemorative activities marking Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, Virginia, starting Wednesday.

Friday night, a eulogy in period language will be delivered over a plain wooden coffin representing Reynolds’ remains and a 100-person choir will sing spirituals.