The Sesquicentennial Observance of the American Civil War
Descendant's Call To Action
I am a descendant of Sergeant Robert Certain of the 1st South Carolina Volunteer Infantry (later, the 33rd USCT of North Carolina). I ride as a cavalryman in the 3rd United States Colored Cavalry and also as a post-Civil War 10th Cavalry, Buffalo Soldier. The year 2012 willmark the 150th anniversary of the drafting and presentation of President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. Although its immediate enforcement was limited, it still marked a march to freedom and self-determination that has never wavered.
The Descendants Jubilee Project is proud to call for the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the reenactment of Watch Night observances. Watch Night observances had been held in many congregations but in 1862 as the black community in the United States awaited the official enactment of the Emancipation Proclamation, Watch Night became even more significant in the black church community. In the months leading up to the actual enactment of the Emancipation Proclamation, leaders in the black community were unsure about the commitment of the Lincoln administration to really allow it to become the law. This uncertainity led to the call for black citizens to stand vigil in the churches through midnight on December 31, 1862 to await the clock reaching one minute past midnight, when the Emancipation Proclamation officiall took effect. In many congregations Watch Night continued to be observed every year since New Years Eve 1862.
We are reaching out to as many Churches as possible, especially those that were organized and active in 1862. We want to reenact as closely as we can, the gathering of the congregations and the larger community in their houses of worship to pray for the blessings of freedom and the heroic march to Jubilee through the enactment of the Emancipation Proclamation. Although our primary focus is Pennsylvania, we welcome churches outside of the Commonwealth to join us. Use the contact page to reach us for more information.
December 31, 2012 marked the 150th Anniversary of Watch Night for the Emancipation Proclamation. It lead to the authorized armed struggle by black Americans of the United States Colored Troops, to enforce Lincoln's proclamation as they marched to Jubilee.
The Descendants Jubilee Project is a part of the of the military living history of black Americans. We present the historically accurate presentation of events that are important to the history of the march to Jubilee for black Americans.
We present period authentic, historically accurate living history encounters and battle reenactments. We bring history to life and present the military history of black cavalrymen like the United States Colored Cavalry of the Civil War and the 9th & 10th Cavalry (Buffalo Soldiers) of the Indian Wars. Our emphasis is on 19th Century US military history and the Frontier West.
By now, it is evident that if we want the role of black soldiers on the battlefields of the American Civil War to be recognized and celebrated , we must organize, plan and finance the effort within the USCT community. Outside of having the United States Congress award a Congressional Gold Medal to the United States Colored Troops, there doesn't seem to be anything to expect from federal or state governments. The USCT community understands that perpetuation of the USCT legacy should not be the responsibility of the government. We as descendants, living historians and interpreters of that period, should enthusiastically embrace our history and share it with our children and their children. That is unquestionably our responsibility
It seems that most states are not interested in correcting a flawed history that is not at all inclusive to begin with, so it should be no surprise that we end up shouldering this responsibility. Most states seem to be only interested in excerpts of history that can generate tourism and the dollars that tourists bring . The timetable of historical events, that underscore an important sequence of activities in the march of black Americans toward freedom, will not seem to be important unless we insist upon an inclusive commemoration.
So, it is necessary to inform and educate a public that does have an appetite for an historically accurate, period authentic and inclusive interpretation of Civil War history. In Pennsylvania, the Descendants Jubilee Project is working to provide that interpretation. The Shadow Warriors program presents living history highlighting the history, stories and legends of black cavalrymen and historic black characters of the frontier west.
2013 marks the 150th anniversary of the enactment of the Emancipation Proclamation and the authorization of the formation of the United States Colored Troops. During this time, we must focus upon building recognition of significant battles that involved the United States Colored Troops, as well as other supporting activities that took place in the black community as we marched forward to the coming of Jubilee, during the 19th century.
Honors for the United States Colored Troops of the Civil War
It is time for anyone who is a descendant of a soldier who fought with the United States Colored Troops during the American Civil War, to contact your representatives in the U. S. Congress (especially members of the Congressional Black Caucus) and ask them to support legislation that will award a Congressional Gold Medal to the USCT during the Civil War Sesquicentennial Commemoration. We must also seek financial support for commuities that relocate the remains of soldiers, in newly identified but abandoned private resting places, to local federal cemetaries.
The Sesquicentennial Observance of the American Civil War should include among other honors; A Congressional Gold Medal honoring the service of the United States Colored Troops; a formal ceremony and military parade in review; Commemoration of the Emancipation Proclamation; a joint resolution of the Congress honoring the USCT; any other such appropriate honor consistent with their meritorious service.
It is evident that most of the individual states involved in planning Civil War Sesquicentennial Observances, will not easily recognize or even acknowledge the important role played by black Americans in the fight to abolish slavery and save the Union. Most of the states that planned for the Sesquicentennial, did so in a manner that does not include the tremendous effort played by black Americans to free themselves. These states absolutely refuse to include the experiences or the role of the United States Colored Troops in enforcing the Emancipation Proclamation or in the the victories or defeats of the Union Army. The USCT freed black people from slavery, wherever they marched.
I am only aware of a few states that recognize the important leadership roles played by black Americans as leaders within the abolitionist and anti-slavery movements (except for something similar to honorable mention). Even in the Pennsylvania commemoration, the effort to present the true role played by free black Americans to abolish slavery is limited The mostly futile effort on the part of black Americans, to enlist and fight under arms in state militia units, prior to the formation of the federalized United States Colored Troops is an important part of Civil War history. We must do what we can to amplify the call for inclusion of people of color in the Sesquicentennial observance of not just Pennsylvania but of every state where the USCT was engaged in the conflict.
Some states have tried to skirt the issue by avoiding any reference to the regiments of the United States Colored Troops that were recruited and trained within their borders. That's why it is important to focus p[ublic attenion on the history now, in hope of encouraging more participation by black historians in the presentation of the Sesquicentennial Obsevances through 2015.
We can only accomplish this if there is some organized effort to encourage public participation in events that will commemorate the enactment of the Emancipation Proclamation and highlight the important role played by the United States Colored Troops in the American Civil War.
The 150th anniversary of the American Civil War has begun, it will continue for four years, until the spring of 2015. Men are needed to reenforce the ranks of the United States Colored Troops in re-enactor units around the country. The 150th Anniversary of the USCT begins in 2013. There will be battle reenactments, living history presentations and other events to showcase our contribution to the Union victory during the Civil War. If you'd like to join the United States Colored Cavalry, you can register on the Contact us page and we will direct you to the closest USCT reenactment unit in your area. Scroll down this page and learn of the history of the United States Colored Troops of the American Civil War.
The United States Colored Troops of the American Civil War, like their volunteer predecessors in the War of 1812 and the Revolutionary War, fought in the best interests of their people for the abolition of slavery and recognition of their status as equal to any other man. The story of the American Civil War must be told in a manner that accurately represents the efforts of the Black Americans to fight for their freedom from enslavement, and in the process, helped save the Union of the United States of America.
Sergeant John Russell and reenactors
portraying the 3rd United Sates Colored Cavalry engage
Confederate cavalrymen at Camp Nelson, Ky in 2008.
The black Warriors of the Jubilee
The United States Colored Troops participated in 449 engagements of which 39 were major battles. Approximately 140 regiments of Infantry, 7 regiments of Cavalry, 14 regiments of Heavy Artillery, 10 batteries of light artillery, independent units, Pioneer Corps, and unassigned USCT units were organized in the Northern States as well as the South, by the Union Army. Although a handful of units maintained their state designations, the vast majority were re-designated as United States Colored Troops after the establishment of the Bureau of Colored Troops on May 22, 1863.
Between 178,000 and 200,000 Black enlisted and 7,500+ White officers served under the Bureau of Colored Troops, which was established by General Order No. 143 on May 22, 1863. It is estimated that approximately 94,000 men were ex-slaves from states that had seceded from the Union. Another approximately 44,000 were ex-slaves or freemen from the Border States. The remainder was recruited from the northern states and the Colorado Territory, many of whom were ex-slaves who had escaped slavery by going north as far as Canada or to the Western Territories on the Underground Railroad.
The largest numbers of regiments were organized in the following States: Louisiana - 36 regiments (approximately); Kentucky - 21 regiments; Tennessee - 18 regiments; and Mississippi - 11 regiments. Louisiana furnished 24,000 men; Kentucky - 23,000 men; Tennessee - 20,000 men; and Mississippi - 18,000 men (approximate numbers).
The Louisiana Native Guards were the first black soldiers to be officially mustered into the Union Army. These men were first assembled to guard New Orleans and other important targets in Louisiana but were disbanded by the Confederacy after the fall of New Orleans. Many were well-to-do black frredman who wanted to protect their status against the Union forces targeting the Port of New Orleans to gain control of the Mississippi River. When they were rejected by the Confederacy they eventually presented themselves to the Union at the call of General Butler and were prominent in the battle of Port Hudson, Louisiana.
Charles Tyler Trowbridge is said to have been the first person to enlist Black soldiers into the Union Army. He did so in the spring of 1862, while serving on the staff of General David Hunter, during the organizing of the 1st South Carolina Volunteers. The unit was not officially mustered into the Union Army and was disbanded in August 1862, except for one company. The regiment was re-organized later in the fall of 1862.
The Cincinnati Black Brigade was also organized in September 1862. The men served in three regiments for three weeks. Unarmed and without uniforms, the men built roads and fortifications in Northern Kentucky. The 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment was mustered into service on May 13, 1863, approximately eight months after muster in of the Louisiana Native Guards.
In October 1862 near the town of Butler, Kansas a force of about 225 men of color was attacked by a Confederate force of aproximately 500 the confederates were defeated. The Union force lost 10 killed and 12 wounded. This was one of the first engagements of men of color who fought for the Union, the 1st Kansas Volunteer Colored Infantry. Numerous men from the Midwest and Border States along with ex-slaves from the South later traveled great distances to enlist and serve with the 54th and 55th Massachusetts Infantry Regiments, and the 5th Massachusetts Colored Cavalry.
Hundreds of black North Americans from Canada enlisted in regiments of the United States Colored Troops. Others came from the Caribbean and some African countries. Contrary to what we learned from the traditional historians, black men were anxious to fight and die, if necessary, to witness the coming of Jubilee. They were supported by their families and communites in their fight for freedom. The black community organized in support of the USCT through the churches and other secular organizations as well as many women's groups. It was a well understood fact that the American Civil War was our legitimate opportunity to free our people once and for all from the degradation of enslavement. Others may have had the surpression of rebellion as their primary motivation to fight but black people knew that it was our chance to fight for the coming of the Jubilee!
This compilation of USCT information doesn’t include approximately 200,000 laborers utilized by the Union Army, nor does it include thousands of black men and women who were spies, scouts, farriers, teamsters, cooks, hostlers, wranglers and other so-called support personnel who in many instances performed their tasks under enemy fire but were nonetheless considered non-combatants. This is why an accurate portrayal of the American Civil War cannot be done correctly without black re-enactors both military and civilian. We can't continue to allow these facts to be ignored by the planners of the various Sesquicentennial Observances of the American Civil War.
It is baffling how many states don't recognize the role played by the units of the United States Colored Troops that were formed within their own states. Is it because historians are unaware of the of the sacrifice and valor demonstrated by the men in these units or is it because they prefer to perpetuate the idea that black Americans didn't fight for their own freedom? Pennsylvania historians, have pledged to highlight the role of Camp William Penn and the eleven regiments of United States Colored Troops that were recruited and trained there. More recently, there has been a coordinated effort to bring the history of those regiments more fully into Pennsylvnia"s rich Civil War fabric and to the attention of the nation.
Camp William Penn in Pennsylvania, was the first and the largest recruitment and training center for the USCT in the country. Although there were eight of these centers Camp William Penn was the only one dedicted soley to black troops. It was frequented by prominent leaders of the abolitionist and anti-slavery movement. like Lucretia Mott, Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass. The units were heavily financed and equipped by the Union League of Philadelphia. Philadelphia was also a primary training center for Civil War officers who would command black troops. Camp William Penn subsequently produced three Medal of Honor recipients.
According to J. Matthew Gallman's Mastering Wartime: A Social History of Philadelphia duiring the Civil War, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990 . Citing the Christian Recorder newspaper (a publication of the AME Church) quoting a black Philadelphian. "Our citizens are expecting every day that a mob will break out here in Philadelphia. And if so, it is thought they will not only resist the draft, but will pounce upon the colored people as they did in New York and elsewhere, and if so, we have only this to say to colored citizens of Philadelphia and vicinity: Have plenty of powder and ball in your houses and use it with effect, if necessary, in the protection of your wives and children."
This was the environment in which black Philadelphians existed during the first month of Camp William Penn's opening. The New York draft riots occured two weeks after Camp William Penn officially opened. The Philadelphia Union League's Supervisory Committee for Recruiting Colored Troops was charged with visiting Camp William Penn and determining the general welfare of the black recruits as well as the condition of the camp itself. The Union League also helped to organize an all-black Philadelphia Committee to Recruit Colored Troops. The Union League also issued a pledge " to render assistance to the families of every colored soldier who may go to battle for his country and his freedom." On June 26, 1863 the first black recruits arrived at Camp William Penn.
Pennsylvania Colored Soldiers of the Civil War
With the commencement of the American Civil War, black men in Pennsylvania organized quickly to aid the Union. G.E. Stevens made one of the earliest offerings on May 20, 1861:
To His Excellency Governor of Pennsylvania
Hon A.C. Curtin:
We are in the midst of a scene never witnessed before in this glorious Republic, a time well calculated to try men and souls. And one in which no man sensible of the blessings of political freedom, and that honor due the American flag can rest idle. Therefore we a portion of the inhabitants of this loyal commonwealth desire without ostentation to serve in any capacity your Excellency may dictate. Any number of able colored men can be ready at an hour notice.
We are most respectfully
Your Obedient Sevts
Commandant of 1st Regiment of Colored Penn Volunteers
Headquarters 1122 Locust St, Philadelphia
The governor declined the offer. Another plea was made by Rufus Sibb Jones on May 13, 1862, in which he wrote to Secretary of War Stanton offering the "Fort Pitts Cadets of the city of Pittsburgh for duty." This offer, too, was declined. Finally, during December 1863, the Massachusetts 54th Colored Regiment was authorized as the first Northern regiment of colored men. Sons, fathers, and uncles from Pennsylvania rushed to help fill the ranks. More than 150 did so, enlisting at such points as Harrisburg, Middletown, Montrose, West Chester, Oxford, and other sites. One of the soldiers was Sergeant Horace B. Bennett, Co. F, who survived the conflict between the states and was interred at Lincoln Cemetery in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania during 1905.
When the time came for the enlisting of black men for regiments organized in the state of Pennsylvania, appeals were made by leading abolitionists, urging men of African descent to fill the ranks. The first organization was the 3rd U.S. Colored Troops. On July 11, 1863, the following announcement was published in the National Anti-Slavery Standard:
Great Public Meeting
On Monday evening, an audience estimated at 5,000 assembled in National Hall, in Market street, to listen to addresses upon the subject of colored enlistments. One half the assembly was black, the other half white; and the two classes were intermingled in every part of the hall. The Rev. Stephen Smith, a wealthy and influential colored man, presided, assisted by a large number of vice-presidents. The Secretaries were Eben D. Bassett, Jacob C. White, Jr., Octavious V. Catto.
Judge Wm. D. Kelly, Anna E. Dickinson, Mr. Maxwell of Chicago, and Frederick Douglass addressed the meeting. Judge Kelly said: "After two hundred years of unbroken oppression, Providence has opened the way of the black to prove his manhood, and to march to honor and glory. I shall only ask you to move on to the destiny, which awaits your race. Colored
Men of Pennsylvania, I ask you to carry at the head of your troops the flag which abolished slavery before any other State or nation, and to carry that flag wherever rebellion rears its head (cheers), and to prove that you are more than a master for the slavecrats of the South (applause).
Old men, some of you are wealthy. Say to your sons that if they prove recreant in this hour you will disinherit them. Mothers, tell your sons if they falter, you will disown them. Girls, when the spruce looking young fellow comes after you, tell him that he who is afraid of gunpowder is not to be preferred to the wooden leg and empty sleeve of the war-worn veteran (cheers). But the white man --- will you take the support of these black men’s families while they go away? (Cries of ‘’Yes.")... It is not glorious Rosecrans, nor Grant, nor Banks. These touch but a single point in this theatre of war. You want one who is with us everywhere, and we have him -- it is the colored man (tremendous cheering). He can save the country. He will fight our battles, and throttle to death the last of our foes. But it must be as a man; and here I abjure you, while you strike for liberty, it is as a man that you are acting. Let our colored men understand this, and in three months peace will be given to the country."
Anna E. Dickinson said: "The people of the United States have decreed justice. The Almighty has answered them with victory. Month after month we have struggled with a rebel foe; twenty-seven months we waited for decisive victory in the East. We had strength in the North; we had courage and wealth in the North. No one doubts the bravery of the men of the North. We were twenty million against eight. We had the brain of New England to put against South Carolina (cheers). Yet, the South went on winning victories, pushing us to the wall, trampling our banners in the dust, and demanding from the world the recognition of the genius and worth of her soldiers. Yet tonight we are rejoicing over a victory, which wipes off all old scores of the Army of the Potomac. Why stand the South tonight hovering over the ruins of Gettysburg? Why? Because the North was battling for the rights of twenty million -- for the proclamation of Jan. 1, 1863. It has had its real stamp put to it by the Massachusetts 55th and the Pennsylvania 3d. Is not this victory significant?"
Mr. Douglass spoke eloquently, and Prof. Bassett read an appeal which stirred the assembly like the blast of a trumpet. The meeting closed with the reading of one of George H. Boker’s poems.
Enlistment of Colored Soldiers
"We print in another place the stirring appeal of the "Supervisory Committee on Colored Enlistments" in Philadelphia to their fellow citizens of Pennsylvania and elsewhere for cooperation and pecuniary aid in their important work; also the appeal of the same Committee to the men of color themselves, urging them to embrace the opportunity now afforded of taking an honorable part in the defence of their country and of their own inalienable rights.
"It is scarcely possible , it seems to us, to say anything that shall give additional weight to the considerations so forcibly and eloquently presented in these appeals; and yet, in justice to our own feelings and convictions in the present crisis, we cannot be wholly silent.
"The policy of organizing negro regiments is at last adopted by the government, with a hearty acquiescence on the part of the loyal people of the North. The question whether the negro will make a good soldier is no longer mooted; the heroism of the black forces at Port Hudson and Milliken’s Bend, and the gallant conduct of the brave company the other day at Columbia, Pa, having put even their worst enemies to shame. The negro will fight, and that not like a demon, but, as General Thomas testifies, as an "avenging angel.: The measure which but lately encountered a fierce resistance now meets with almost universal favor. In conservative Philadelphia it is adopted with enthusiasm, as the distinguished names appended to the appeal above alluded to sufficiently attest... Another evidence of the state of the public mind in Philadelphia is seen in the fact that already the Committee has raised upwards of $20,000 to promote the object, and confidently expects to increase the sum of $50,000 --- the whole amount to be devoted to defraying the extraordinary expenses of procuring enlistments, for which the government makes no provision.
"Already, we understand, there are 400 recruits in camp William Penn. This camp is at Chelton Hills, a few miles North of Philadelphia on land owned by our friend Edward M. Davis, and in a neighborhood whose inhabitants generally are anxious to do all in their power to make the recruits comfortable and do them good. The Philadelphia North American says:
"A finer site could not have been chosen. It is in the midst of one of the richest and best cultivated sections of country in Eastern Pennsylvania, upon a hill side, near a stream of running water. As yet, the men are only furnished with what is called the shelter tent but they seem to be pleased with their quarters and their fare, and manifest the very best spirits. Lieut. Col. Lewis Wagner, of the 88th Pennsylvania (invalided) is in command of this first regiment, and considering they have only been under discipline for a week, he has done wonders with them. On Saturday about one hundred and fifty recruits were taken to the camp, inspected and mustered into the service. Among them was a company of some fifty colored men raised in Buffalo, who have been vainly awaiting the raising of a colored regiment in New York State. A full brass band of colored musicians is attached to this regiment and a drum corps also colored. The commissioned officers of the regiment are all white men of experience in war, the non-commissioned officers being colored.
"These colored soldiers, like the white ones, are mostly young men, consequently their physique is not quite up to the sturdy look of the middle aged black men. Six months experience in the field, however, will develop their brawny forms, as it always does that of the young white soldiers. There is no gloom about these black warriors --- no seriousness of look such as seems to brood over the camp of other troops. They are full of spirits, buoyant and exultant over the dawning fortunes of the race."
"The same paper gives an account of the celebration of the Fourth of July at Camp William Penn:
"We were present on Saturday, with a large concourse of people of both races, on the occasion of the celebration of the national anniversary at this camp. The Supervisory Committee from the Chestnut street headquarters brought out with them the eloquent colored orator, Frederick Douglass, to present tot he regiment an elegant silk flag, the handiwork of ladies of the city. Ladies came on horseback and in carriages from the whole surrounding country.
"In the afternoon the troops were drawn up in line, in the national uniform, with their muskets, and looked remarkably well as they went through the drill. After being marched and countermarched about the grounds, they were brought to position for firing. The grounds cleared, and they fired nine rounds with tolerable precision, in honor of the Fourth. The universal want of habituation to the use of arms among the blacks, is a thing not to be overcome easily; and we were, therefore, not surprised at some awkwardness among those who had never handled a gun before. Still they show a great aptitude to learn, and the verdict of all the officers who saw them was, that they would soon make very fair soldiers. We observed among the spectators Lieut-Col. Hallowell, of the Massachusetts 55th colored regiment.
"After the firing, the regiment was drawn up again in parade order, and Frederick Douglass presented the flag above mentioned in a very neat speech. He said that he was sure that in their hands the Stars and Stripes would never be surrendered while there was a hope left, and all that men could do they would do to uphold the cause of which the flag was the representative. He congratulated them on being at last recognized in the rights of manhood by the country of their birth, and said that whatever rights might still be withheld from them, they must be content to await the developments of the future. Prejudices against their race were fast disappearing, and the sentiment of the people in their favor was far better than it had ever been before. This was the result, in a considerable degree, of the gallantry of colored men at Port Hudson. Mr. Douglass said he felt proud at having two of his own sons fighting in this great cause in the Massachusetts 54th -- proud, indeed, of having two Douuglasses in the field. To the colored men around who were spectators of this scene, he appealed to come forward and join this regiment or aid in filling it up, so that it might not be delayed, but sent promptly into service, where it could do some good. Lieut-Col. Wagner received the flag in a short but appropriate speech, in which he expressed his confidence in the spirit and courage of the men.
"The regiment then stacked arms and marched to the Quartermaster’s tent, where an entertainment awaited them, singing as they went, in full chorus, John Brown’s body lies moldering in the grave,’ accompanied by the band. Copies of Boker’s beautiful ode on the 1st Louisiana colored regiment were widely distributed. Taken altogether, the celebration of the day at the colored camp was very gratifying both to the men and to the spectators."
"We understand that money is to be raised, with which to extemporize a school-house on the camp ground, to furnish books, blackboards, etc. Provision will also be made, we doubt not, for such religious instruction as will be acceptable to the recruits. We have heard a rumor that Lucretia Mott, whose residence is hardly more than a stone’s throw from the camp, will address them tomorrow (Sunday).
"Never had men stronger inducements to enlist than those which now press upon our colored fellow-citizens. Their country, their race, their own welfare for all time, appeal to them; and sure we are that the appeal will be responded to in a spirit worthy of men who appreciate their rights and the cause of universal liberty.
"Camp William Penn is now the only place in the free States, east of the Alleghenies, where colored recruits are received. George L. Stearns, a friend tried and true, is Commissioner. He is aided by Thomas Webster and others --- including our friend J.M. McKim --- who are devoting their whole souls to the work, believing it to be of the highest importance. They desire the cooperation of all friends of the cause, and solicit the correspondence of those who have any suggestions on the subject to offer."
(National Anti-Slavery Standard and the Philadelphia North American, July 18, 1863)
According to Samuel P. Bates’ History of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-5, the 3rd U.S. Colored Troops regiment was followed by the 6th USCT, 8th USCT, 22 USCT, 24th USCT, 25th USCT, 32nd USCT, 41st USCT, 43rd USCT, 45th USCT, and the 127th USCT. The article, "Pennsylvania Negro Regiments in the Civil War, " appeared in The Journal of Negro History, No. 2, Vol., XXXVII (April, 1952). The author was Dr. Frederick M. Binder, who later became the president of Hartwick College.
United States Colored Troops of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
A profile of most of the U.S. Colored Troops regiments organized in Pennsylvania, along with descriptions of some soldiers, appears in the book, Whence They Came: The Families of United States Colored Troops in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, 1815-1995 by Harry Bradshaw Matthews. The text identifies the following soldiers, most of whom are buried at Lincoln Cemetery in Gettysburg, which is owned by St. Paul's AME Zion Church.
Alias, John Johnson,; buried in Gettysburg
6th/ Co. H.
Died at Army Hospital
Shot, Olustee, FL; buried at Baltimore, MD
Killed, Battle of Olustee; FL
William H Devan
Died from illness, buried at Brownsville, TX
George W Pennington
Shot, Olustee, FL; buried at Gettysburg
David A Robinson
Lived at Gettysburg; moved Baltimore, MD
John W. Wattts
Lamed, in TX, buried at Gettysburg
Buried at Gettysburg
Buried at Gettysburg
Shot, Portsmouth, VA; bur. Gettysburg
John T. Redding
Buried at Gettysburg
Greenberry Stanton, Sgt
Shot, Chapin's Farm, VA; buried at Victoria, TX
Shot, Petersburg, VA; buried at Gettysburg
Buried at Gettysburg
Lloyd F.A. Watts, Sgt
Buried at Gettysburg
Buried at Gettysburg
John E. Hopkins. Sgt.
Rheum, New Orleans, LS; buried Gettysburg
Rheum, Gunpoint, LS.; buried at Gettysburg
Alexander Scott, Corp
Illness, Gunpoint, LS; buried at Gettysburg
William A. Thompson
Buried at Gettysburg
Buried at Gettysburg
Buried at Gettysburg
William L. Jackson
Buried at Gettysburg
Buried at Gettysburg
Buried at Gettysburg
Lived at Cumberland Township
Shot, Honey Hill, SC ;buried at Gettysburg
John A Disnick, Mus
Hosp, Pt of Rock, VA; buried at Gettysburg
Buried at Gettysburg
Buried at Gettysburg
Buried at Gettysburg
Lived at Gettysburg
Charles, Hill, Corp
Buried at Gettysburg
Lived at Gettysburg
Buried at Gettysburg
Samuel I. Mathews, Corp
Shot, Petersburg, VA; buried Coffeyville, KS
Williams H. Mathews
Buried at Gettysburg
John Stanton, Sgt
Shot. Petersburg, VA; buried at Vallejo, CA
George W.Wagner, Corp
127th/ Co. I
Buried at Gettysburg
In June of 1863 in other parts of Pennsylvania especially in South Central PA, black Pennsylvanians were being hunted down by Confederate Soldiers under General Jubal Early's command. As black men and women fled the area there were a few incidences of resistance as some black people were helped in their efforts to escape being carried South into slavery. In most cases however, black people were offered no assistance from anyone they encountered. Many escaped west into the Pennsylvania mountains or east to Philadelphia's black urban community. Even in ths environment, Pennsylvania's heroic black citizens struggled to be allowed to fight their tormentors.
While the Confederates were hunting down black Pennsylvanians to take them south as slaves, on June 28, 1863 the black militia of Lancaster County, PA joined in the defense of the Columbia- Wrightsville Bridge and stopped Jubal Early's advance elements from capturing Harrisburg, PA . These black militiamen were cited by Colonel Jacob G. Frick with these words: "justice compels me to make mention of the excellent conduct of the company of negroes from Columbia. After working industrially in the rifle pits all day, when the fight commenced they took their guns and stood up to their work bravely. They fell back only when ordered to do so."
This was all happening as Camp William Penn was receiving the first recruits that would become the 3rd United States Colored Infantry. As mentioned, 82 black recruits marched into Camp William Penn on June 26, 1863. They were organized as Company A, Third Colored Infantry Regiment USCT. By Friday July 3, 1863 165 more men had entered the camp as Companies B and C. Also on July 3rd Pickett's Charge was launched against Union Forces at Gettysburg. The men of Camp William Penn and the progressive abolitionists and antislavery organizations in Philadelphia proudly carried the fight to the Confederate slavemasters and their allies.
Camp Nelson Kentucky, was also a large training center and supply depot for the Union Army during the Civil War. It provided more than 10,000 black soldiers for the Union Army and was the third largest facility of its type in the nation. It is now a featured part of the Civil War history of Kentucky. During the last decade, Camp Nelson has become the focus of annual Civil War re-enactments, living history presentations and Civil War history symposia. It also serves as a center for annual activity by various units of USCT re-enactors.
The Sesquicentennial Observance of the American Civil War begins on April 12, 2011. The 150th anniversary of the fomation of black units will be celebrated beginning in the summer and fall of 2012. Officially, the United States Colored Troops will commemorate the formation of the Bureau of Colored Troops in 2013. Hopefully by that time, other states will recognize and feature the role of their black Civil War soldiers in any of their official, Civil War public commemorations, just as they do other Civil War units and individual heroes.
Black re-enactors are needed to build the commemorative units that will portray the black Warriors of the Jubilee -The United States Colored Troops, during the sesquicentennial observance of the American Civil War which unfolds in 2011. There are United States Colord Troops re-enactor units actively recruiting new members. Contact us for more information.
The Book of Names
This website is the proud owner of the Book of Names, a three volume set of books listing the names of all the members of the United States Colored Troops who served the Union during the American Civil War.
It is compiled and published by the African American Civil War Memorial Freedom Foundation. The volumes list the soldiers names within each regiment. The regiments are grouped by state. The states are grouped by region.
Volume 1 lists the USCT regiments from the Northern States; Volume II, lists the USCT regiments from Southern States and; Volume III, lists the USCT regiments from the Border States. The Book of Names allows researchers to quickly find the names of any soldiers listed in the Compiled Military Service Records at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).
These are the names of the members of the United States Colored Troops on the Wall of Honor of the African American Civil War Memorial located at 9th and U Streets in Washington, D.C. If you would like to verify the status of your ancestor who fought with the United States Colored Troops during the Civil War, click contact us and let us know the name of the ancestor you'd like us to research.
Take Action Now!
Contact the current members of the Congressional Black Caucus to ask that they sponsor a Congressional Gold Medal honorin the heroic black soldiers of the United States Colored Troopss of the American Civil War. These men and women have a responsibility to ensure national recognition for the USCT during the national observance of the Sesquicentennial Commemoration of the American Civil War. The Emancipation Proclamation and the authorization of the United States Colored Troops are important milestones in our march toward the Jubilee.
Since they are direct beneficiaries of the USCT legacy, the CBC should be supportive. Write a letter and ask for an appointment to meet with individual members of Congress. Take talking points from this website or other sources. Ask for their support and ask them to speak for us with their colleagues. Share the response that you receive so that we all know who will help us, with this important commemoration.
If one of the following Members of Congress represents your district, schedule an appointment to meet with them and explain the need for Federal support. If you have an existing relationship with these or any other members, you should do the same thing. Any meeting results that you report will be posted , so that others know whether or not progress is being made. Use the contact page to let us know.
If we don't make a real effort to have the United States Colored Troops recognized, at the federal level during this 150th Commemoration, it is doubtful that more than just a few states will even consider honoring the USCT at all. Your feedback is important to the effort.
Contact the members of the Congressional Black Caucus by mail, e-mail, phone or letter.
Don't forget to let us know through the contact page about any response you may receive from your written inquiry to the members of Congress. We will keep you apprised of any developments..
On Tuesday, April 6, 2010, Pennsylvania Congressman, Chaka Fattah (Dem. 2nd Dist.) pledged to introduce the legislation that will be required for the award of a Congressional Gold Medal to the United States Colored Troops of the American Civil War.
This is a critical first step in the national campaign to have the United States Colored Troops awarded a Congressional Gold Medal. The award is recognition of the crucial role they played in the abolition of slavery and the preservation of the Union during the American Civil War. The Descendants Jubilee Project is developing a legislative support base for this important honor.
Many Members of Congress are unaware of the military contribution made by the USCT in the enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation and their military victories that led to winning the Civil War by the Union army. The award of a Congressional Gold Medal requires a two/thirds vote of the House and the Senate in support of the legislation. This can’t happen without your full support.
We need your help!
Please identify any member of Congress whom you believe should be contacted for support. As soon as the legislation is drafted, we will begin to notify potential congressional supporters and encourage sponsorship and co-sponsorship. We will be developing a communications plan that will keep our USCT /Congressional Gold Medal campaign front and center. During the life of this effort we will be helping to recruit, equip and train new USCT participants, either in existing or in newly formed units, in time for our role in the Sesquicentennial commemorations 2013-2015. If you would like to become a reenactor of the United States Colored Troops of the Federal Army during the American Civil War, please contact us through the contact page of this website. Thank you.