Monuments to the United States Colored Troops (USCT) [African American Civil War Soldiers]: The List


A great way to celebrate Memorial Day is by visiting one of the dozen monuments that have been erected to honor the United States Colored Troops (USCT) who participated in the Civil War. I have identified the following monument sites which are in several states and the District of Columbia. [If you know of any that I've missed, please write to me and I will make an update.]

The information about each monument site is brief. Originally, I wanted to include a lot more information, but then the post became too large and unwieldly. I’ve provided links that give additional details, and I encourage you to follow them and explore.

My main focus is on monuments, which I define as large, usually sculpted outdoor pieces. There are many other markers, which are smaller commemorative pieces, that honor the USCT (and which may identify themselves as monuments); I have indicated a few of these in this blog entry. Over time, I may add more.


This is an example of a smaller memorial marker which I have not included in my list of USCT monuments. I have listed a couple more of these below.
This marker is from the Cabin Creek Battlefield near Pensacola, Oklahoma, and commemorates the First Kansas Colored Infantry. Click on the image to see a larger size version of the photograph.

If a particular monument is a sculpted piece, I’ve tried to include the sculptor’s name. Some monuments are simply large headboards with engravings, and would not have required a dedicated sculptor to produce original art.

For those who are interested in visiting USCT burial sites, please go to RESTING PLACES OF UNITED STATES COLORED TROOPS.

Of note is that at least fifteen of these monuments were erected in the past 20 years. My speculation is that this recent interest in memorializing the USCT got its impetus from the 1989 movie Glory, which is a fictionalized account of the 54th Massachusetts regiment that served in the Union army.

List of USCT Monuments shown in this blog entry:
1. The Connecticut Twenty-Ninth Colored Regiment, C. V. Infantry; New Haven, Connecticut.
2. The African-American Civil War Memorial – The Spirit Of Freedom; Washington, District of Columbia
3. 2nd Regiment Infantry, U.S. Colored Troops; Fort Myers, Florida
4. Colored Soldiers Monument (AKA Kentucky African American Civil War Veterans Monument); Frankfort, Kentucky
5. In Memory of More Than 400 Prominent United States Colored Troops from Kent County; Chestertown, Maryland
6. Memorial to Robert Gould Shaw and the Massachusetts 54th Regiment; Boston, Massachusetts
7. African American Monument; Vicksburg, Mississippi
8. 1st Kansas Colored Infantry Civil War Monument – “Battle of Island Mound”; Butler, Missouri
9. 56th United States Colored Troops Monument; St. Louis, Missouri
10. Soldiers’ Memorial at Lincoln University, Missouri; Jefferson City, Missouri
11. In Memory of the Colored Union Soldiers; Hertford, North Carolina
12. United States Colored Troops National Monument; Nashville, Tennessee
13. West Point Monument (AKA Norfolk African-American Civil War Memorial); Norfolk, Virginia
14. Civil War Monument; Portsmouth,Virginia

Other USCT monuments which are not shown in this blog entry (click on the links to see and read about these monuments):
15. African American Soldiers Monument, Danbury, Connecticut. This monument is dedicated “to the memory of the black soldiers of Greater Danbury who served in the 29th and 30th Regiments Conn. Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War 1981-1865.” The back of the monument bears 70 names from the 29th Conn., and honors 16 who were killed in service, as well as nine names from the 30th Conn., including three who were killed. The monument also lists a dozen names from other Connecticut and New York regiments and the U.S. Navy, including one soldier who lost his life.
16. African American Medal Of Honor Recipients Memorial, Wilmington, Delaware. This monument is dedicated to the 87 African Americans who were awarded the US Medal of Honor. The sculpted piece includes a depiction of a Civil War era African American soldier.
17. African American Civil War Monument in Decatur, Illinois. This monument commemorates the entire African American Civil War experience, and includes images of Colored Troops, slaves, freedmen/contrabands, and Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.
18. Union Monument at Fort Butler in Donaldsonville, Louisiana. This monument is dedicated to the African American soldiers who fought at the Battle of Fort Butler.
19. United States Colored Troops Civil War Memorial Monument in Lexington Park, Maryland.
20. 54th Regiment Massachusetts Voluntary Infantry Plaza in New Bedford, Massachusetts. This plaza/park features a columned archway and water fountain that commemorate the all black 54th Regiment, and is near the location of a recruiting station where many of the regiment enlisted for service.
21. Corinth Contraband Camp, Corinth, Mississippi. This site is a monument to freed blacks, AKA “contrabands,” and includes sculptured pieces of African descent soldiers.
22. Monument to 26th Regiment United States Colored Infantry, Ithaca, New York. This monument is located at an African Methodist Episcopalian (AME) church which served as a recruiting station for African Americans in upstate New York.
23. All Wars Memorial to Colored Soldiers & Sailors in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This monument is not strictly for USCT, and it physically depicts World War I era soldiers. But it’s on the list because it honors all African Americans soldiers through World War I.

Finally, these are some noteworthy memorial markers to African Americans who fought in the Civil War:
24. Monument to the 1st Regiment, Kansas Colored Volunteers, Honey Springs Battlefield, Checotah, Oklahoma. This commemorates the black soldiers who fought at Honey Springs in what was formerly Indian Territory.
25. Monument at Petersburg National Battlefield, Petersburg, Virginia. This recognizes the service of United States Colored Troops who participated in the Siege of Petersburg during 1864-65.
26. See the memorial to the 1st Kansas Colored Volunteers at the Cabin Creek Battlefield near Pensacola, Oklahoma, which is shown above in the beginning of this blog entry.

This list was developed mainly from research done on Internet. The ‘net can be unreliable at times, but then, this post would not have been possible without on-line resources. I invite one and all to identify any errors in the text below, and I will work toward making the corrections on a timely basis.

[1] The Connecticut Twenty-Ninth Colored Regiment, C. V. Infantry
New Haven, Connecticut.


The Connecticut Twenty-Ninth Colored Regiment, C. V. Infantry Memorial
Photographer: Richard E. Miller; taken: July 6, 2009
Click on the image or here to see a larger version of the photograph from the Historical Marker Database site.

This monument to the much storied Connecticut Twenty-Ninth Colored Regiment is, to me, one of the most visually striking of the USCT memorials. It is in a circular space that features a large obelisk at its center which is partially encircled by eight stone markers that feature the names of regiment members. The obelisk has images of the soldiers and an inscription which tells the history of the regiment. More regiment history is here.

The memorial was erected in 2008 by the Descendants of the Connecticut 29th Colored Regiment, C.V. Infantry, Inc. The sculpture was designed by Ed Hamilton of Louisville, Kentucky. Images of the monument dedication are here.

The memorial is in the northwest corner of Crisuolo Park (a.k.a. Quinnipiac Park) off Chapel Street. The park is just east of the Mill River and north of the Quinnipiac. It is accessible from northbound I-91 off exit 5 (State Street) via James Street. Click for map.


From the obelisk on the monument site
Source: 29th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry Regiment (Colored) website

For additional information:
Entry in the Historical Marker Database
A Sketch of the 29th Regiment of Connecticut Colored Troops by Isaac J. Hill, 1867
Connecticut African American Soldiers in the Civil War, 1861-1865 (PDF)

[2] The African-American Civil War Memorial – The Spirit Of Freedom
Washington, District of Columbia

This monument is a national memorial to all the USCT who served in the Civil War. It features the ten foot tall Spirit of Freedom sculpture at the center of a granite-paved plaza. The memorial is encircled on three sides by a Wall of Honor on which is inscribed the names of 209,145 members (including officers) of the USCT. The sculpture features uniformed black soldiers and a sailor, as well as images of women, children and elders, who represent the soldiers families and source of strength. The sculpture was designed by Ed Hamilton, who also designed the Connecticut Twenty-Ninth Colored Regiment, C. V. Infantry monument.

The monument was dedicated on July 18, 1998. The building of the monument was funded and/or managed by various groups, including the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, the African American Civil War Freedom Foundation, Inc., the District of Columbia city government, and the US government by Congressional appropriation.

The memorial is located at the corner of Vermont Avenue, 10th St, and U Street NW in Washington, DC, and can be reached by subway at the U St/African-Amer Civil War Memorial/Cardozo Metro station.

The African American Civil War Museum, which is dedicated to helping visitors understand the African American’s heroic and largely unknown struggle for freedom before, during, and after the War, is located directly across the street from the memorial. The museum is currently in the final stages of installing new exhibits; the work is over two-thirds complete, and the museum is open to the public during this process. The museum will have a grand re-opening on Monday, July 18, 2011; this will include three days of special events. The Museum’s web site will provide more details as they become available.


African American Civil War Memorial – The Spirit of Freedom
Source: Ed Hamilton, Sculptor
website

For additional information:
African American Civil War Memorial and Museum
18 photos at “Sites of Memory”
Sculptor Ed Hamilton, Official Web Site, page on “The Spirit of Freedom”
 Spirit of Freedom Inventory of American Sculpture Survey

[3] 2nd Regiment Infantry, U.S. Colored Troops
Fort Myers, Florida

This monument, which is in downtown Fort Myers, is the only one in Florida that commemorates the service of African American troops during the Civil War. Fort Myers is on the west coast of Florida, about 130 miles south of Tampa.

The monument is specifically dedicated to the 2nd Regiment, United States Colored Infantry (USCI). The 2nd USCI was organized at Arlington, Virginia, in 1863 and was immediately assigned to the Department of the Gulf and served there until the end of the Civil War.  Companies of this unit saw service from New Orleans to Key West, including  Fort Myers. The Battle of Fort Myers, in February of 1865, marked the major and final action of the 2nd USCT in South Florida.


2nd Regiment Infantry, U.S. Colored Troops Monument
Source: Waymarking.com

The monument depicts a single black soldier standing before a wall with an open gateway that represents the way to freedom from slavery. One either side of the gateway are plaques, one with information about the 2nd Regiment, and the other with a poem/ode to the soldiers. The sculpture was designed by D. J. Wilkins.

The monument was dedicated on November 11, 1998, according to the sculptor. It was a project of the City of Fort Myers, based on an idea for the monument from the American Legion Post 192.

This monument is located in downtown Fort Myers along the waterfront in Centennial Park on 2100 Edwards Drive.

For additional information:
Centennial Park – 2nd Regiment Infantry, U.S. Colored Troops - The Florida Public Archaeology Network
2nd Regiment USCT Monument – website of sculptor D. J. Wilkins
2nd Regiment Infantry – Fort Myers, FL – American Civil War Monuments and Memorials on Waymarking.com

[4] Colored Soldiers Monument (AKA Kentucky African American Civil War Veterans Monument)
Frankfort, Kentucky

This is one of oldest memorials dedicated to the USCT, and one of a handful built before 1990. I believe this is the only Kentucky monument to black soldiers that participated in the American Civil War. The monument is located in Frankfort, Kentucky’s Green Hill Cemetery. (Another important site for USCT history in Kentucky is the Camp Nelson Civil War Heritage Park and Museum.)

Kentucky did not allow the recruitment of blacks until 1864. Slaves who enlisted were immediately emancipated, giving them a huge incentive to (escape and) join the army. In 1865, the families of slaves who enlisted were also emancipated. In total, 23,703 blacks from Kentucky would join a total of 23 Union regiments. This would provide the Union Army one-third of its total forces from the state of Kentucky. Only Louisiana provided more black troops than Kentucky.


Colored Soldiers Monument
Source: Wikipedia
Click on the image or here to see a larger version of the photograph from Wiki.

The monument was dedicated on July 4, 1924. It was erected by the Colored Women’s Relief Corps No. 8 of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR). The GAR was a Union veterans group.

The memorial consists of a limestone column with a concrete base. The column is inscribed with the names of 142 black soldiers from central Kentucky, and also, the seal of the Grand Army of the Republic.

The Colored Soldiers Monument is in Frankfort’s Green Hill Cemetery, at the corner of US-60 and US-127.

For additional information:
Colored Soldiers Monument in Frankfort – Wikipedia
Colored Soldiers Monument or Kentucky African American Civil War Veterans Monument, Green Hill Cemetery, Frankfort (Franklin) – Trails ‘R’ Us

[5] In Memory of More Than 400 Prominent United States Colored Troops from Kent County
Chestertown, Maryland

This monument is located in Chestertown, Kent County, Maryland, which is in the state’s Eastern Shore area. It is dedicated to the colored troops from the county who fought in the Union army.

At the time of the war, Maryland’s black population was roughly half slave, half free. The war, which led to a Union army presence in the state; the abolition of slavery in nearby Washington, DC in 1862; the Emancipation Proclamation; and black enlistment (negroes in the state were allowed to enlist in mid 1863; enlisted slaves were immediately freed) all destabilized slavery in the state. State politicians recognized this. Effective November 1864, a re-written Maryland constitution abolished slavery. Maryland provided 8,718 men to the USCT; some of the 3,269 who enlisted in the District of Columbia were no doubt from Maryland.


United States Colored Troops Monument in Kent County, MD
Photographer: Bill Pfingsten; taken: October 19, 2007
Click on the image or here to see a larger version of the photograph from the Historical Marker Database site.

The Chestertown monument consists of a large obelisk granite(?) headstone and a stone bench. The monument has the inscription, “In Memory of more than 400 prominent United States Colored Troops from Kent County, Maryland who bravely displayed extraordinary acts of heroism as they faithfully served their country with courage & honor in an attempt to gain freedom & equality in their preservation of the Union during the Civil War (1861-1865). Like an eagle that flies in the sky above, always protecting the land we love.”

The monument was erected in 1999 by American Legion Parker White Post 143, Chestertown, Maryland.

The monument is in Chestertown, Maryland, near Cross Street (Maryland Route 289), on the left when traveling south, in the city’s Monuments Row.


Memorial Day, 2010, in Chestertown, MD, at the monument to Colored Soldiers
From the Blog Reflections on Delmarva’s Past

For additional information:
Entry in the Historical Marker Database 

[6] Memorial to Robert Gould Shaw and the Massachusetts 54th Regiment
Boston, Massachusetts

This is the oldest and one of the more well known monuments to the USCT, largely because of the famous but fictionalized depiction of the the Massachusetts 54th Regiment in the movie Glory. It was true, though, that regiment was led by Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, who came from an abolitionist family in Boston. Shaw took command of one of the first regiments that was organized and deployed after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued. The exploits of the 54th would help to prove that the negro would fight and could fight, nobly and effectively.

One note about the level of fictionalization in Glory. At the end of the movie, we see Shaw lead the 54th in an attack on  South Carolina’s Fort  Wagner in July 1863. As depicted in the Hollywood version, it seems that the regiment is about to go on a suicide run; and at the end, it appears that regiment was wiped out, with few or no survivors. In fact, just under 10% of the 54th died as a result that assault – 30 were killed in action and 24 were mortally wounded. Total casualties – killed and wounded – came to 40% of the roughly 600 men involved in their attack. And contrary to what the film implies at the end, Fort Wagner was taken by the Union, in September 1863 – thanks to a force that included the 3rd Regiment Infantry of the USCT, and the 54th Massachusetts. Thus, the 54th Massachusetts was more glorious than the movie would seem to indicate.


Memorial to Robert Gould Shaw and the Massachusetts 54th Regiment
Source: Wikipedia

The sculpture was designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, a highly regarded artist of the time, while the setting for the site was designed by prominent architect Charles McKim. Saint-Gaudens took nearly fourteen years to complete this high-relief bronze monument. In New York, forty men were hired to serve as models for the soldiers’ faces. Colonel Shaw is shown on horseback and three rows of infantry men march behind. This scene depicts the 54th Regiment marching down Beacon Street on May 28, 1863 as they left Boston to head south.

The monument was paid for by private donations and was unveiled in a Memorial Day ceremony on May 31, 1897. The monument is located  in Boston at the intersection of Beacon Street and Park Street. This is at the north corner of Boston Common, directly across Beacon Street from the Massachusetts State House.

There are numerous Internet and paper sources for the Shaw and the 54th on the Internet; I will list these few that focus on the monument:
Entry in the Historical Marker Database 
Boston African American Historic Site: Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Regiment - National Park Service
Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts Regiment – 1883-1897 – Augustus Saint-Gaudens

[7] African American Monument
Vicksburg, Mississippi

This monument commemorates the service of African Americans in the Vicksburg campaign. Vicksburg was a Confederate stronghold along the Mississippi River, and impeded the Union’s goal of control of the River for both military and commercial purposes. After some earlier failures, Union forces under the command General Union Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant held the city under siege, that is, the Union surrounded the city and made it impossible for Vicksburg to bring in food or other supplies. The siege lasted from late May 1863 to July 4, 1863, when the city surrendered to the Union forces.

The surrender of Vicksburg, along with the defeat of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s at Gettysburg on July 3, is considered one of the major turning points of the war.


African American Monument in Vicksburg National Military Park
The inscription reads, “Commemorating the Service of the 1st and 3d Mississippi Infantry, African Descent and All Mississippians of African Descent Who Participated in the Vicksburg Campaign.”
Source: from Flickr, by Pat Austin

Union successes in Mississippi and nearby Louisiana and Tennessee, which enabled many slaves to escape their masters, and an aggressive Union recruiting campaign, led to a large number of USCT enlistments from the state of Mississippi – the state is credited with providing 17,869 men for the USCT, the fourth most of any state.

An excellent description of the role played by African Americans at Vicksburg and the western theater is here, from the Jackson Advocate newspaper.

A National Park Service (NPS) brochure for the monument notes that “of the more than 1,300 monuments in the park, this memorial is the first to honor black troops, and the first tribute of its type honoring African American soldiers placed on any of the Civil War battlefields administered by the National Park Service.” The brochure describes the monument:

The nine-foot tall sculpture depicts three figures – two Union soldiers representing the 1st and 3d Mississippi Infantry, African Descent, that participated in the Vicksburg campaign, and the third a civilian laborer. The soldier on the left looks toward the future that he helped secure through force of arms. The civilian looks to the past and the institution of slavery that he has left behind. Between them they support a wounded comrade, representing the sacrifice in blood made by African American soldiers on the field of battle.

The monument was dedicated on February 14, 2004. Former Vicksburg Mayor Robert M. Walker proposed placement of the monument in Vicksburg National Military Park in 1999. The memorial was funded with monies from the state of Mississippi, the city of Vicksburg and other sources. The sculpture is the work of Dr. Kim Sessums, an artist from Brookhaven, Mississippi.

This monument is located in Vicksburg National Military Park, I believe on the south side of Grant Avenue between milepost 4.3 and 4.4.

This is a model that was made based on the Vicksburg African American Monument. More model images are here.

For additional information:
National Park Service Refuses to Give Black Civil War Soldiers Full Credit, Jackson Advocate
The African American Soldier Memorial in Vicksburg, MS; and an Old(?) ‘Grey Curtain’/NPS Controversy, Jubilo! The Emancipation Century

[8] 1st Kansas Colored Infantry Civil War Monument – “Battle of Island Mound”
Butler, Missouri

This monument is one of several memorials that I’ve seen to the historically significant 1st Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry. At the start of the Civil War, the Union government did not use blacks as soldiers, for various legal and political reasons. But that wasn’t a show-stopper for the people of Kansas, and specifically  Kansas, U.S. Senator James Lane. He began recruiting African Americans into a separate state militia during the summer of 1862; those men would become the 1st Kansas Colored Infantry, and are considered to be the first black regiment raised in a Northern state.


1st Kansas Colored Infantry Civil War Monument – “Battle of Island Mound”
Source: Missouri Civil War Sesquicentennial Site

The 1st Kansas was part of many skirmishes/battles in the war’s western theater. The monument commemorates the role of the 1st Kansas in the In October 29, 1862 Skirmish at Island Mound in Bates County, Missouri. This is one of the first times that black soldiers engaged in combat in the Civil War. Although this was a skirmish, not a “battle,” it received national publicity and helped to prove to northerners that black soldiers had the courage and ability to engage in fight. The battle included at least one Cherokee Indian member of the 1st Kansas, John Six-Killer. The Volunteers lost over a handful of men in the fight, including John Six-Killer. Of additional significance was that the fight took place against the backdrop of the Bleeding Kansas conflict, where anti-slavery/free labor/free soilers from Kansans fought with pro-slavery “Kansans,” many of whom were from Missouri.

The monument features a life-size bronze statue of a single black soldier that was designed by sculptor Joel Randall. The statue is called the “Battle of Island Mound,” although that title is a misnomer – Island Mound was a skirmish, not a battle. The statue is mounted on a block of stone which has a plaque that reads in part, “They Fought Like Tigers.”


Monument Plaque
Photographer: William Fischer, Jr.; taken: October 30, 2010
Click on the image or here to see a larger version of the photograph from the Historical Marker Database site.

The statue was dedicated on October 12, 2008.

The monument is located in Butler, MO at 7 W. Ohio St. The city of Butler is in Bates county in western Missouri, about 70 miles south of Kansas City, Missouri.

Additional Information:
Entry in the Historical Marker Database
Press Release: Bates County, Missouri to honor 1st Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry and the Skirmish at Island Mound
Island Mound Statue on the Courthouse Square

[9] 56th United States Colored Troops Monument
St. Louis, Missouri

This monument is located in the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, in Saint Louis. I went through some internal debating before I decided to include this in my monuments list, because it seems as much as a gravestone as a monument. Additionally, this monument memorializes deaths that occurred after the war was over… due to cholera.


Monument to the 56th USCT Infantry
Photographer: Eric Kreft; taken: March 16, 2008
Click on the image or here to see a larger version of the photograph from the findagrave.com site.

But the monument, if it is that, underscores an important aspect of military life – death from disease. Colored troops had a very high death rate die to disease compared to that for white soldiers. Consider these statistics, which were compiled by Lt. Col. William F. Fox in his post war book Regimental Losses in American Civil War, 1861-1865: A Treatise on the extent and nature of the mortuary losses in the Union regiments, with full and exhaustive statistics compiled from the official records on file in the state military bureaus and at Washington:

UNION SOLDIERS DIED OF DISEASE
(NOT INCLUDING DEATHS IN PRISONS.)

Class. Enrolled Died Per cent.
Volunteers 2,080,193 167,510 8.0
Regulars 67,000 2,552 3.8
Colored Troops 178,975 29,658 16.5
Total 2,236,168 199,720 8.5

Note the much higher rate of death from disease for Colored Troops. The reasons for that are beyond the scope of this blog entry. But suffice it to say that, the consequences of poor health were more often life-threatening for colored troops than they were for white troopers. (I am aware that the casualty rates in Regimental Losses in American Civil War, 1861-1865 are outdated given the information we have today. However, scholars of today do agree that blacks suffered higher mortality rates than whites during the Civil War; see the book Intensely Human: The Health of Black Soldiers in the American Civil War by Margaret Humphreys.)

At the website for findagrave.com, it is noted that

This obelisk honors the memory of the 175 soldiers of the 56th USCT who died of cholera in August 1866.

The 56th Regiment was originally organized at St. Louis as the 3d Arkansas Infantry Regiment (African Descent). The 3d Arkansas was ordered from St. Louis to Helena, Arkansas and served on post duty there… The unit was mustered out of the service on September 15, 1866, but before then, the tragedy occurred that contributed to the reason for this monument. The 56th was traveling aboard 2 steamers to be mustered out. During the trip several soldiers died of an undiagnosed illness. A surgeon inspected the men and reported no cholera among them. The men arrived in St. Louis at night and were kept onboard until the next morning, rather than being allowed to roam the town.

The next morning, it was clear that the 56th Regiment had cholera. Ordered back to Quarantine Station, the unit lost 178 enlisted men and one officer in the next few weeks. During its service the 56th Regiment lost a total of 674 men. Four officers and 21 enlisted men were killed in action or of wounds. Two officers and 647 enlisted men were killed by disease, 96 percent of their regiment’s losses.

The monument consists of a large obelisk on a stone base that has a plaque. The obelisk has the inscription “To the Memory of 175 Non Com. Officers and Private of the 56 U.S.C. Infty – Died of Cholera in August 1866.” The plaque at the base reads:

1863-1866        56th U.S. Colored Infantry
Their memory Will Not Perish
Brigadier General N. B. Buford
July 27, 1864
This monument and remains were removed from quarantine station, MO,
by authority of War Department Collaborating with Citizens Committee and dedicated May, 1939
Joseph E Mitchell, Chairman

As noted above, the monument was dedicated in May, 1939. It is located in St. Louis; click here for a map. It appears that a “Citizens Committee” arranged for the acquisition of the monument, but I have no other details at the moment.

Additional information: 56th United States Colored Troops Monument at findagrave.com

[10] Soldiers’ Memorial at Lincoln University, Missouri
Jefferson City, Missouri


Main statue for the Soldiers’ Memorial at Lincoln University, Missouri
Source: Lincoln University, Missouri

This monument commemorates the 62nd and 65th United States Colored Infantry, who did something quite unprecedented: after the war, they pooled their money to fund the first and only school established by soldiers of African descent. That school – born as Lincoln Institute, now Lincoln University – celebrates those soldiers with a monument and plaza on the grounds of the campus.

Liberty and learning were precious commodities for Missourians of African descent at the start of the Civil War. In 1860, 118,500 blacks lived in the state, with 115,000 in slavery, and just 3,500 free. In 1847 the Missouri General Assembly passed a law forbidding blacks, slave or free, to be taught to read or write. As noted in the book Missouri’s Black Heritage, “this was a reflection of a slaveholder’s fear that literacy might lead to (a slave) rebellion.” This “Black Code” prohibition taught Missouri blacks a lesson they would not forget: education was a force for their liberation and uplift.

Two of the earliest black regiments from the state of Missouri were the First Regiment of Missouri Colored Infantry, which, according to the site Missouri Digital Heritage, enlisted more that 300 men at Schofield Barracks in St. Louis; and the 2nd Missouri Colored Infantry,which was formed sometime later. These regiments were renamed the 62nd and 65th U.S. Regiment of Colored Infantry respectively when they were organized into the US Colored Troops.

After the war, soldiers from the two regiments raised over $5000 to found a school for Missouri’s freedmen. Established in 1866, the school was called Lincoln Institute. A key figure in the creation of the school was Richard Baxter Foster, an abolitionist white officer who became the Institute’s first principal, and whose image is featured in the Soldiers’ Memorial Monument. Over time, Lincoln Institute evolved into current day Lincoln University. The history of the school, and the efforts to create a monument to the soldiers who founded it, is told in this video:

In 2003, Lincoln University made plans for a Soldiers’ Memorial Plaza, to be set in a central position in the school’s academic quadrangle. The plaza design includes a monument statue, as well as terrace steps and walkways, commemorative plaques, and a granite wall that also provides a seating area.

The main monument statue was sculpted by Ed Dwight Studios of Kansas City. As described at the Studios’ web site, “this memorial honors the foresights and vision (of the school’s founders)… (it) features Two Soldiers and Capt. Foster, their white commander, atop the pedestal, plus a soldier to the rear assisting other soldiers in their climb to academic excellence. This is enhanced by a bas relief group of soldiers awaiting matriculation and two additional soldiers in full garb trudging across the campus heading to their destiny.” The Two (USCT) Soldiers on the monument pedestal hold books, symbolic of the education that is offered to their fellow soldiers and freedmen.

The inscription on the main statue reads “Dedicated to the Officers and Soldiers of the 62nd and 65th United States Colored Infantries.”


The monument includes two separate sculpted pieces that approach the main monument statue.
Source: Ed Dwight Studios

More images of the monument can be seen here. The monument was dedicated in 2007. It is located on the school’s academic quadrangle. Lincoln University is located near the intersection of highway 50 and Highway 54. A map and directions are available at the Lincoln University web site.

[11] “In Memory of the Colored Union Soldiers”
Hertford, North Carolina

The informational marker  for this memorial describes it as a “rare monument” – and that’s quite correct to say. Because this is one of but three monuments honoring colored troops that was built in a former Confederate state before 1990. The other two such monument are the West Point Monument in Norfolk, Virginia, and the Civil War Monument in Portsmouth, Virginia; both of them are described further below.

North Carolina had a relatively medium- to small-sized presence in the USCT (compared to other states), providing just over 5,000 men to the Union army. The United States army did not have an extensive occupying presence in the state, except for some of the state’s coastal areas. Hertford is in Perquiman county, which is situated along North Carolina’s northeastern coast; however, at this point in my research, I don’t know if or how long the Union controlled the area, or, how many African Americans lived there.

The informational marker for the monument tells its story:

To remember [Perquiman] county’s African American soldiers, women of the black community, many of them wives and widows of these men, erected one of the few such monuments in the nation at Academy Green in 1910. Coordinated by the First Baptist Church and the United Daughters of Union veterans, the monument is inscribed “In Memory of the Colored Union Soldiers Who Faught in the War of 1861-1865.”

Academy Green was the location of the county’s first black school, library, and church, which freedmen formed in a bush shelter in 1866. The congregation later built a church across the street.

The monument consists of a headstone that appears to be mounted atop two concrete blocks, perhaps to increase the overall height of the piece. The headstone also has the inscription that reads “Erected by the United Daughters of Veterans.”


Monument to the Colored Union Soldiers
Photographer: Chris Meekins; taken: July 8,2008.
Source: Image from North Carolina Monuments, via Waymarking.com
Click here to see a larger version of the photograph from the North Carolina Monuments site

The information marker says the monument was dedicated in 1910, although I have seen another source that says it was dedicated around 1912. The monument is located at First Baptist Church, 211 Hyde Park St., at the corner of Dobbs and Hyde Park St. in Hertford.

For additional information:
A Rare Monument – African American Soldiers and Sailors
Colored Union Soldiers — Hertford North Carolina – American Civil War Monuments and Memorials on Waymarking.com

[12] United States Colored Troops National Monument
Nashville, Tennessee

I have a blog entry about this memorial here, which gives some details on this monument.

The nine-foot cast bronze statue, which was designed by Tennessee artist Roy Butler, was modeled after a USCT reenactor, Bill Radcliffe.


United States Colored Troops National Monument, Nashville National Cemetery
The inscription reads, “In Memory of the 20,133 who served as United States Colored Troops in the Union Army Dedicated 2003″
Source: US Department of Veteran Affairs

It’s especially appropriate that a USCT monument be built in Tennessee. Among the states, Tennessee had the third largest contingent of black Union soldiers, at 20,133 men. Louisiana had the most black soldiers (24,502), and Kentucky was second (23,703).

Although the monument inscription indicates it was dedicated in 2003, the public unveiling/dedication ceremony was conducted in February 2006. The monument project was coordinated by the African American Cultural Alliance of Nashville. Funding came from a variety of groups, including the Tennessee Historical Commission, church contributions, individual citizens, businesses and Civil War groups including the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

This monument to the USCT is located in Nashville National Cemetery. Click here for a map.

For additional information:
New Statue At Nashville Cemetery Honors USCT Troops, by Gregory L. Wade @ Civil War News.com
Promotional Brochure from Artist Roy Butler

[13] West Point Monument AKA Norfolk African-American Civil War Memorial
Norfolk, Virginia

The West Point Monument, also known as the Norfolk African-American Civil War Memorial, is somewhat unique: it is one of only three monuments to African-American Civil War soldiers that was built in a former Confederate state before 1990. That it was built at all is itself a reflection of the heroic effort of one James E. Fuller.

The monument was built as a tribute to African American veterans of both the Civil War and Spanish American War. James Fuller (1846-1909) was the primary force behind the monument’s installation. Fuller was a former slave and a Civil War Veteran quartermaster in the First United States Colored Cavalry, and was later elected as the first black Norfolk City Councilman. Fuller was able to get the city to provide land for a memorial to a Veteran’s Association, but funding for the design and building of the memorial was still necessary.

Over a span of more than two decades, Fuller and others raised money by selling pies, chicken dinners, and tickets for raffles and concerts. By 1906, enough funds had been raised for the construction of the base of the monument. The Monument’s Cornerstone was set by Fuller on Decoration Day (now Memorial Day) on May 30, 1909. However, the monument was not completed until 1920. A plaque honoring the Spanish-American soldiers was attached to the base. Numerous churches, lodges, and civic and social groups worked under the leadership umbrella of the Norfolk Memorial Association to continue raising funds until the monument was completed in 1920.

The Civil War soldier depicted on the top of the West Point Monument is said to be Norfolk native Sergeant William H. Carney of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment. Carney was one of a number of African American soldiers to receive the Medal of Honor during the Civil War. FYI, Virginia provided 5,723 soldiers to the USCT.


West Point Monument, Norfolk, Virginia
Source: Waymarking.com; photographer unknown
Click on the image or here to see a larger version of the image from Waymarking.com

The North Face of the Monument’s Pedestal are two bronze plaques. The bottom square bronze plaque has the following inscription: “ERECTED BY – THE – NORFOLK MEMORIAL – ASSOCIATION – TO – THE MEMORY OF – OUR HEROES – 1861 – 1865.”

There are eight inscribed plaques on all four sides of the base of the West Point Monument. These have the names of various community groups that helped to fund the monument. This thing was clearly a labor of love for the Norfolk community. The names of some of these groups may be of interest to aficionados of colored troop history.

I have not been able to identify the name of the sculptor.

The monument is located at 238 E. Princess Anne Road, in Norfolk’s Elmwood Cemetery. Click here for a map.

For additional information:
Entry in the Historical Marker Database – 1 of 2
Entry in the Historical Marker Database – 2 of 2
West Point Mounument, Norfolk, Virginia – American Civil War Monuments and Memorials on Waymarking.com
Norfolk’s Two Civil War Monuments

[14] Civil War Monument
Portsmouth, Virginia

This obelisk-shaped stone monument in Virginia is one of only three monuments to African-American Civil War soldiers that was built in a former Confederate state before 1990. It was erected by Silas Fellows Post No. 7 of the G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic), Department of Virginia and North Carolina. The G.A.R. was a veterans group for Union Civil War soldiers that had branches all over the country. I talk about the G.A.R. here. It appears that the monument was dedicated around 1916.

Per one of the inscriptions on its four sides, the monument was dedicated to “The 25th Army Corps U.S. Colored Vol. Troops who rendered valiant service, 1863 – 1865 at Seven Pines, Fort Fisher, Wilson’s Wharf, Petersburg, Richmond and in Texas.” The 25th Army Corps was composed entirely of US Colored Troop regiments, and was the only all black (save for officers) Army corps in United States history.

The Monument is in Lincoln Cemetery, an African American cemetery that is located along Deep Creek Road in Portsmouth, Virginia.

I want to give special thanks to the staff at the Local History Room of the Portsmouth Public Library which provided the information about this monument. I first learned of the monument from the book An African American History of the Civil War in Hampton Roads VA by Cassandra Newby-Alexander.


Civil War Monument at Lincoln Cemetery in Portsmouth, Virginia
The inscription on this side of the monument reads “In loving remembrance of the men who in the darkest hour of slavery kept alive in their souls a love of mankind’s rights, justice and the unity of the United States of America.”
Source: Postsmouth Public Library
Click here to see a larger view of the image.

18 thoughts on “Monuments to the United States Colored Troops (USCT) [African American Civil War Soldiers]: The List

  1. This List was very Good. We help with the monument in Nashville, Tn.but I did not Know about the others.

  2. Regarding the 56th United States Colored Troops Monument in St. Louis, there are two headstones, one on each side of the monument for the troops buried there. They were given full military honors when they were re-interred in 1939. The monument originally stood over their mass grave at Quarantine Hospital. The base and plaque were added after re-internment. I have some photos of the honors provided, and a bit more info if you are interested.

  3. Pingback: The African American Soldier Memorial in Vicksburg, MS; and an Old(?) ‘Grey Curtain’/NPS Controversy « Jubilo! The Emancipation Century

  4. lunchcountersitin–

    In the city of Chesapeake, VA, just south of Norfolk, we’ve been honored with the work of E. Curtis Alexander, an Afro-Union historian who is the descendant of USCT soldiers. He researched and helped develop a memorial to local USCT veterans in the Bells Mill neighborhood of Chesapeake. The “Unknown and Known Afro-Union Civil War Soldier’s Memorial” is “the first and only memorial of its kind in the Commonwealth of Virginia dedicated to honor Afro-Union patriot heroes.” More info can be found at http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WMA38D_Unknown_and_Known_Afro_Union_Civil_War_Soldiers_Memorial

    Regards,
    Louis Mosier

  5. There is a recent monument to six USCT dedicated in 1991 in a formerly neglected black cemetery, called Sumner Cemetery, in Cumberland, Md. See pages 149-150 in the book, Lest We Forget: A Guide to Civil War Monuments in Maryland by Susan Cooke Soderberg

  6. I was doing research on the Battle of Palmetto Ranch near
    Brownsville, Texas in May 12-13, 1865 and the 62nd Colored
    Infantry was in the information. I found a Bornze Statue
    dedicated to the Officers and Soldiers of the 62nd and 65th
    United States Colored

  7. 3/6/2012: The Soldiers’ Memorial at Lincoln University was added to the list. Some edits to that section may follow, but that update is 96% complete.

  8. Pingback: Historic cemeteries: bones may be reburied nearby - Gulf Coast Rising News | Louisiana

  9. A Texas State Historical Marker was approved in 2012 for Sgt. William H. Barnes, 38th USCT. Sgt. Barnes was one of 14 soldiers of the USCT that were awarded a Medal of Honor for gallantry at the Battle of New Market Heights. Two other Medal of Honor recipients with the 38th were stationed at Indianola, TX after the war during Texas Reconstruction where they mustered out in 1867. Barnes died at Indianola on Christmas Eve 1866 and was buried there.

  10. Pingback: HIST501: Studies in Civil War Memory

  11. EPIC…..EPIC…..EPIC !!! The Missouri Newest State Historic Site will be dedicated on saturday 27 October 2012 at 10 am THE Battle of ISLAND MOUND in Butler, Missouri about an hour on the out-skirts of Kansas City. The Battle of Island Mound is also documented by the and identified as “the FIRST to SERVE and the FIRST to Die” from those who journeyed to become the FIRST KANSAS COLORED UNION ARMY REGIMENT:
    ” FORT AFRICA ” these heroes, of the FIRST KANSAS COLORED UNION ARMY named this ‘ BATTLE of ISLAND MOUND’: other than being utterly and comp-letely incapable of even remotely trying to convey and express the magnitude and appreciation to the Butler, Missouri officals, Bates County Historical Society, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, the great Govenor of Missouri, the Missouri State Historical Society and each of those involved in the EPIC experience of REMEMBERING the FIRST KANSAS COLORED UNION ARMY, ( who were NOT at all from Kansas’- but risked, journeyed and sacrificed their very oWN beings to come to KANSas to help try to Free and Liberate and entire nation’…..
    May God’s mercy, Love and spirit of PEaCE forever shine upon the great state of Missouri and the honor to which the FIRST KANSAS COLORED UNION ARMY are being Blessed for the future to appreciate and interpret !!!
    from a grateful PEOPLES,

    Marvin S. Robinson,II
    Quindaro Ruins / Underground railroad- Exercise 2013

    P.S. saw this on-line and thought it might amke it, easier to go along with this INVITATION to attend the EPIC October 2012 experience in Butler, Missouri, see yA and look forward to meeting you at ” FORT AFRICA ”

    http://www.mocivilwar.org/history/battles/island_mound.htm

    Thank yALL

  12. I have found a classic Govt. supplied gravestone of a black civil war veteran. The stone for C.H. Peterson (Calvin) Corporal Co. F 31st U.S.C.T. is in the Allegany County, Scio NY Palmer Cemetery.

    http://www.alleganyhistory.org/research/cemeteries/p-t208/scio39/1525-palmer-cemetery

    The Allegany County Historical Society added his name and a photo of the stone just last month September 2013. From records I have, it appears he survived the war, may have married and may have died in 1875.
    Bob Heavener Scio,NY

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