New Book: “African American Faces of the Civil War: An Album”


Cover for the book African American Faces of the Civil War: An Album by Ronald Coddington. Book published by John Hopkins University Press.

Ronald Coddington has produced the third book in his “Faces of the Civil War” series. His books feature photographs of civil war soldiers, and provide an annotation about them – for example, soldier name, background, war experience, and post-war experience. His latest work is African American Faces of the Civil War: An Album. 

African American Faces is notable for its exhibition of a large photographic record of “colored” Civil War participants. Over 75 African Americans are pictured and discussed. Most are Union soldiers, such as Sargent Major Lewis Henry Douglass, the son of Frederick Douglass, who served in the famous Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Infantry; and Major Martin Delaney, the black activist, newspaper publisher, and soldier recruiter who was the highest ranking African descent field officer in the Union at the end of the War. But several non-Union soldiers are included, such as Confederate slave Silas Chandler; Robert Holloway, the personal servant of Union Colonel Ambrose Burnside who was captured at the First Battle of Bull Run; South Carolinian Robert Smalls, who became famous for leading a group of slaves out of Charleston harbor and into freedom on a stolen steamboat; and Navy seamen.

The brief biography that accompanies each photograph serves to “flesh out” each of these men, and helps us understand that for African Americans, this was not merely a war for Union or Southern independence, but rather, was a struggle for freedom, equality and dignity.

And this is a book about men; all the subjects noted are male. If I could have given one suggestion to the author it would have been to include Harriet Tubman in the book. Tubman, a noted conductor of the Underground Railroad helped to lead a union raid in South Carolina to disrupt Southern supply lines and free local area slaves. This story would have made for an interesting complement to the others in the book.

African American Faces is written to be accessible to a large group of readers, and would be a welcome addition to middle school libraries and above, as well as being a fine addition to any personal library. As an elementary and high school student in the 1960s and early 1970s, I never saw an image of a black civil war soldier, nor did I hear anything mentioned about them. Coddington’s book further illustrates that there is a rich record from which to draw concerning this previously (and some say currently) neglected aspect of the Civil War.

An Irish American View of the Colored Soldier


Union enlistment posters for Irish Americans in New York and coloreds in Pennsylvania

Last year, I posted a blog entry about conflicts between African Americans and Irish Americans during the Civil War. It’s an interesting read that can be found here.

This is an excerpt from that blog post:

      During the antebellum and Civil War eras, free negroes and Irish immigrants often had a strained relationship. Both were subject to racial or ethnic bias by the white Protestant majority (anti-immigrant bigots were called “Nativists”), and were considered the “bottom rungs” of American society. (Blacks were on the very bottom.) Given their lowly status, blacks and Irish often competed for low-wage jobs, and the stress of that competition led to outright hostility… or worse.

      Tensions between the two groups were further inflamed by heated and hateful rhetoric from the Copperhead faction of the Democratic Party, to which most Irish Americans were aligned. These Democrats argued that the emancipationist policies of President Lincoln and the Republican Party would cause a “stampede” of freed blacks to the North that would undercut and devalue white labor.

      The Democrats also argued that it was unacceptable for whites to fight and die to free black slaves. That argument was echoed even by the Irish religious leader New York Archbishop John Hughes. As noted by historian James McPherson in his book Battle Cry of Freedom, Hughes stated that “we Catholics, and a vast majority of our brave troops in the field, have not the slightest idea of carrying on a war that costs so much blood and treasure just to gratify a clique of Abolitionists.

Negro G. A. R. Veterans Parading, New York City, May 30, 1912


Negro G.A.R. veterans parading, New York City, May 30, 1912
Source: Library of Congress; Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-132913; see more information about the photo here.

This is a photograph of black Civil War veterans, and family and friends, marching in a Grand Army of the Republic parade in New York in the early twentieth century. The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) was an organization of United States (Union) veterans of the Civil War, including men from the Army, Navy, Marines and Revenue Cutter Service. Wikipedia discusses the GAR:

After the end of American Civil War, organizations were formed for veterans to network and maintain connections with each other. Many of the veterans used their shared experiences as a basis for fellowship. Groups of men began joining together, first for camaraderie and later for political power. Emerging as most influential among the various organizations was the Grand Army of the Republic, founded on April 6, 1866, on the principles of “Fraternity, Charity and Loyalty,” in Decatur, Illinois, by Benjamin F. Stephenson.

The GAR initially grew and prospered as a de facto political arm of the Republican Party during the heated political contests of the Reconstruction era. The commemoration of Union veterans, black and white, immediately became entwined with partisan politics. The GAR promoted voting rights for black veterans, as many veterans recognized their demonstrated patriotism. Black veterans, who enthusiastically embraced the message of equality, shunned black veterans’ organizations in preference for racially inclusive groups. But when the Republican Party’s commitment to reform in the South gradually decreased, the GAR’s mission became ill-defined and the organization floundered. The GAR almost disappeared in the early 1870s, and many divisions ceased to exist.

In the 1880s, the organization revived under new leadership that provided a platform for renewed growth, by advocating federal pensions for veterans. As the organization revived, black veterans joined in significant numbers and organized local posts. The national organization, however, failed to press the case for pensions for black soldiers.

I recently purchased The Won Cause: Black and White Comradeship in the Grand Army of the Republic, by Barbara Gannon. Like so many books I don’t have time to read, this might sit on my shelf for a while. But it promises to offer some interesting insights into race relations and the GAR. This is from a description of the book:

In the years after the Civil War, black and white Union soldiers who survived the horrific struggle joined the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR)–the Union army’s largest veterans’ organization. In this thoroughly researched and groundbreaking study, Barbara Gannon chronicles black and white veterans’ efforts to create and sustain the nation’s first interracial organization.

According to the conventional view, the freedoms and interests of African American veterans were not defended by white Union veterans after the war, despite the shared tradition of sacrifice among both black and white soldiers. In The Won Cause, however, Gannon challenges this scholarship, arguing that although black veterans still suffered under the contemporary racial mores, the GAR honored its black members in many instances and ascribed them a greater equality than previous studies have shown. Using evidence of integrated posts and veterans’ thoughts on their comradeship and the cause, Gannon reveals that white veterans embraced black veterans because their membership in the GAR demonstrated that their wartime suffering created a transcendent bond–comradeship–that overcame even the most pernicious social barrier–race-based separation.

By upholding a more inclusive memory of a war fought for liberty as well as union, the GAR’s “Won Cause” challenged the Lost Cause version of Civil War memory.

Soldiers’ Memorial at Lincoln University, Missouri


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

Deprived of freedom and citizenship rights, thousands of black men from Missouri joined the Union army, determined to fight for emancipation and equality. Deprived of an education, the Missouri men of the 62nd and 65th United States Colored Infantry took another determined, but unprecedented action: in 1866, they pooled their money to fund the first and only school established by soldiers of African descent.

Liberty and learning were indeed precious commodities for Missouri African Americans 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.

The legacy left by the 62nd and 65th United States Colored Infantry (USCI) – which is now called Lincoln University – commemorates those men in a monument that sits on the University’s campus. What follows is a brief summary of how this came to be.

Missouri African Americans and the Civil War

When the Civil War began, Missouri was a slave state that remained loyal to the Union. (Although it’s more correct to say that the state had large pro-Union and pro-seccession/Confederate factions, with the Union faction and military able to maintain control of the state government.) In order to keep the support of Missouri and other Border slave states (Delaware, Kentucky, and Maryland), the United States government initially declared that it would not disturb slavery where it stood. Of note: in August 1861, the abolitionist Union General John C. Frémont, as part of his martial law policy to defend the state, declared that bondsmen of disloyal slave-owners in Missouri were free. In September 1861, President Abraham Lincoln told Frémont to rescind the order, saying it lacked congressional and executive authorization.

But as the war wore on, military necessity determined that the Union would accept, and even seek, the support of African Americans, even in states with loyal slaveholders like Missouri. By 1864, Union enlistment and recruitment was expanded to include slaves in the Border states; army enlistment automatically freed the former slaves. As noted by Aaron Astor in his essay Black Soldiers and White Violence in Kentucky and Missouri (from the book The Great Task Remaining Before Us: Reconstruction as America’s Continuing Civil War),

By January 15, 1864, dozens of slaves enlisted in central Missouri’s slave-rich Howard County alone. By the end of February, more than 3,700 African Americans enlisted in Missouri, with central Missouri’s Little Dixie producing a significant portion… in Missouri, 39 percent (of military-age African Americans) joined the Union army… these numbers downplay the total of black recruits in the western border states, as many joined in neighboring free states. It is very likely that a significant percentage of the 2,080 African Americans credited to Kansas actually came from Missouri. (Editor’s note: Kansas had less than 700 African American residents in 1860, according to the US Census.)

In the rolls of the United States Colored Troops, Missouri is credited with providing 8,344 soldiers. As mentioned earlier, it’s very likely that many Missouri blacks enlisted in nearby Kansas, and some were probably members of the famous First Kansas Colored Infantry.

According to the site Missouri Digital Heritage, “the first black regiment from Missouri was recruited in June 1863 at Schofield Barracks in St. Louis. More than 300 men enlisted. The regiment was called the First Regiment of Missouri Colored Infantry. It later became the 62nd U.S. Regiment of Colored Infantry.” Sometime after, the 2nd Missouri Colored Infantry was formed; it was renamed the 65th Regiment, United States Colored Infantry. Other black Missouri regiments are noted in this post at The USCT Chronicle.

The History of Lincoln University, née Lincoln Institute

After the war, soldiers from the 62nd and 65th USCI 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. The history of the school, and the efforts to create a monument to the soldiers who founded it, is told in this video:


 
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John Trowbridge’s Visit to the Desolate South (Post-War Atlanta)


This illustration shows a group of freedmen in Atlanta, Georgia, circa 1865, holding a “street convention” to discuss their political status in the wake of the Civil War and emancipation.
Source: The South: A tour of its battlefields and ruined cities, a journey through the desolated states, and talks with the people, by John Trowbridge.

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In the summer of 1865, and in the following winter, I made two visits to the South, spending four months in eight of the principal States which had lately been in rebellion. I saw the most noted battle-fields of the war. I made acquaintance with officers and soldiers of both sides. I followed in the track of the destroying armies. I travelled by railroad, by steamboat, by stage-coach, and by private conveyance; meeting and conversing with all sorts of people, from high State officials to “low-down” whites and negroes; endeavoring, at all times and in all places, to receive correct impressions of the country, of its inhabitants, of the great contest of arms just closed, and of the still greater contest of principles not yet terminated.

So began John Townsend Trowbridge (1827-1916) in his book The South: A tour of its battlefields and ruined cities, a journey through the desolated states, and talks with the people. (The full, ridiculously long title of the book is The South: a tour of its battlefields and ruined cities, a journey through the desolated states, and talks with the people; being a description of the present state of the country, its agriculture, railroad, business and finances; giving an account of Confederate misrule, and of the sufferings, necessities and mistakes, political views, social condition and prospects, of the aristocracy, middle class, poor whites and Negroes; including visits to patriot graves and rebel prisons, and embracing special notes on the free labor system, education and moral elevation of the freemen, also, on plans of reconstruction and inducements to emigration; from personal observations and experience during months of Southern travel.)

Trowbridge wrote The South under commission of L. Stebbins, a Hartford, Connecticut, publisher. Trowbridge’s “tour” of the post-war South was one of several such first hand accounts of the region that were produced by the press. His book won praise for its impartial, fair-minded approach to the subject, and the detail and breadth of his study.

I purchased a copy of The South during a recent visit to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and found it an interesting and compelling read. The original version is in the public domain; it can be viewed by going here: http://www.archive.org/details/southtourofitsba7228trow

Below, I have provided an interesting excerpt from the book about post-war Atlanta. Large swaths of that city were devastated during Sherman’s march to the sea in late 1864, and the ruin was still evident when Trowbridge visited the area the following year. This excerpt touches on several subjects, including:
• the harshness of post-war life in the South, especially for freed blacks
• Union support among poor southern whites
• relations between blacks and poor whites in the South
• views on who was responsible for some of the ruin in Atlanta (this differs from the view that Sherman’s Union forces were to blame for all of the burning in the city)
• African American dialogue concerning their political future in the post-war South.
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From John Trowbridge’s The South:

IN AND ABOUT ATLANTA (Chapter LXIII)

A sun-bright morning did not transmute the town into a place of very great attractiveness. Everywhere were ruins and rubbish, mud and mortar and misery. The burnt streets were rapidly rebuilding; but in the mean while hundreds of the inhabitants, white and black, rendered homeless by the destruction of the city, were living in wretched hovels, which made the suburbs look like a fantastic encampment of gypsies or Indians.

Some of the negro huts were covered entirely with ragged fragments of tin-roofing from the burnt government and railroad buildings. Others were constructed partly of these irregular blackened patches, and partly of old boards, with roofs of huge, warped, slouching shreds of tin, kept from blowing away by stones placed on the top. Notwithstanding the ingenuity displayed in piecing these rags together, they formed but a miserable shelter at the best. “In dry weather, it’s good as anybody’s houses. But they leaks right bad when it rains; then we have to pile our things up to keep ‘em dry.” So said a colored mother of six children, whose husband was killed “fighting for de Yankees,” and who supported her family of little ones by washing. “Sometimes I gits along tolerable; sometimes right slim; but dat’s de way wid everybody; — times is powerful hard right now.”
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Ground Breaking for US Colored Troop Memorial Monument, March 4, 2012, in Lexington Park, Maryland

The Unified Committee for Afro-American Contributions is inviting one and all to the Ground Breaking Ceremony for the United States Colored Troops (USCT) Memorial Monument to be installed in Lexington Park, Maryland. Lexington Park is in St Mary’s County, MD, and is 90 miles south of Baltimore, MD, and 65 miles south of Washington, DC.

The event will be held on Sunday, March 4, 2012, at 2:00 pm at John G. Lancaster Park, 21550 Willows Road, Lexington Park, Maryland. For information contact:
• Idolia Shubrooks – 301.863.2150
• Nathaniel Scroggins, President (UCAC) – 301.862.9635
• Shell Jackson – 240.431.8880

The USCT Memorial Monument will be dedicated and unveiled at 10:00 am on June 16, 2012 at the 2012 Juneteenth Celebration. Some prospective images of the monument are here and here.

The website for the Unified Committee for Afro-American Contributions has more details about the Monument. This is an excerpt:

The Unified Committee for Afro-American Contributions (UCAC) Monument Committee has initiated an historical project to educate the citizenry and preserve local, state and national history by erecting a memorial monument to honor United States Colored Troops. It will recognize Congressional Medal of Honor recipients and all Union soldiers and sailors from St. Mary’s County who served during the Civil War. UCAC is working in partnership with the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW). Together we will bring the lives of these American heroes to the attention of the public, so that their sacrifices will never be forgotten.

The United States Colored Troops were regiments of the United States Army and Navy during the Civil War that were composed of African American soldiers and sailors.  Recruiting stations were set up at various places by the Union.  This action was taken despite the complaints of plantation owners who depended on slave labor for local agricultural needs.  In St. Mary’s County during the 1800s there were more than 6,500 slaves and over 600 were recruited as USCT to fight with the Union to end slavery in the United States. This history is a vital part of our local heritage, and this project will create a legacy which will serve to educate the community and preserve our history for future generations.

We are proud that St. Mary’s County produced two USCT recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor, Pvt. William H. Barnes and Sgt. James H. Harris. These sons of St. Mary’s County were awarded the Medal of Honor for their gallantry in the Battle of Chaffin’s Farm also known as the Battle of New Market Heights (Sept. 1864) in Varina, Henrico County, Virginia.

Nationally recognized sculptor Gary Casteel will build the monument.  Mr. Casteel’s work is highly regarded and may be seen in collections of the National Park Service, state and local governments, corporations and private enterprises.  Visit Mr. Casteel’s website for more information regarding this talented artist:www.garycasteel.com.  The site for the monument has been donated by St. Mary’s County in John G. Lancaster Park in Lexington Park, Maryland.

Hat tip to Yulanda Burgess at usctbrigade@yahoogroups.com for the info.

Scenes from the 2011 Gettysburg Remembrance Day Parade


USCT Reenactors at the 2011 Gettysburg Remembrance Day Parade. Several of the female reenactors are from FREED (Female Re-Enactors of Distinction), a reenactors group based in Washington, DC.

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, is the site of the bloodiest battle of the American Civil War. As a result of the three day battle, lasting from July 1 to July 3, 1863, almost 8,000 men are estimated to have died, and another 38,000 were wounded, captured, or missing. (Some estimates put total casualties – men killed, wounded, captured, and missing – as high as 51,000.) On November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln gave this speech at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, which has famously become known as the Gettysburg Address:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

The dedication event is commemorated annually on Remembrance Day. The official date of Remembrance Day is November 19, during which a ceremony is held at the National Cemetery. On the Saturday of Remembrance Day week, a parade of Union and Confederate soldiers is held in the city of Gettysburg. Thousands of Civil War reenactors participate, and this is considered one of the largest reenactor events in the northeast.

These are some pictures from the 2011 Gettysburg Remembrance Day Parade. This year, the parade date was the same date as Remembrance Day – November 19. It was sunny and cool, and a great day for holding the parade.


The person on the left is Dr. Franklin Smith, who heads the African American Civil War Museum in Washington, DC.


I believe the man to the far left is James Price, who publishes The Sable Arm, a blog about the United States Colored Troops.

USCT Flag – First Kansas Colored Infantry (USCT 79th Regiment Infantry)

During the Civil War, many military units had their own regimental flags that they would carry into battle, and this was true of units in the United States’ Colored Troops. On the third day of the month, I’ll display a flag from each of those regiments – depending on my ability to find these flags through internet searches and other sources.


These ladies are holding a replica of the regimental flag for the First Kansas Colored Infantry. A larger image of the flag is here at the site for the Kansas Historical Society.
Source: Blackpast.org

The First Kansas Colored Infantry is one of the most historically significant regiments in the war, although it is less well known than the 54th Massachusetts (depicted in the movie Glory) or perhaps the Louisiana Native Guard/Corps D’Afrique.

At the start of the Civil War, the Union government did not use blacks as soldiers, for various legal and political reasons (see a discussion of these reasons here and here). But that wasn’t a show-stopper for the people of Kansas and its U.S. Senator, James Lane.

Kansas began the recruitment of blacks into the state militia force during the summer of 1862. Some of these black men were fugitive slaves from next-door Missouri (Lane and others are reported to have gone on slave raiding parties into that state); several hundred were from Kansas’s Indian Home Guard. Whatever the source, the result was the formation of the First Kansas Colored Infantry, the first African American regiment raised in the Northern states. Although the 1st Kansas was not formally accepted into the federal army until January 13, 1863, the First Kansas Colored was among the first African American regiments to see fighting.

The Kansas Historical Society notes that

Five months passed before the First was accepted into federal service, but this did not deter them from training or seeing action. On October 28, 1862, a detachment of 225 men faced 500 Confederates at Island Mound in Bates County, Missouri. Ten members of the First were killed and twelve wounded, but the Confederates were driven off.

The First distinguished itself throughout the Civil War. Most prominent were two battles in the Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma) in July 1863. At Cabin Creek on July 2, blacks fought alongside whites for the first time in turning back Confederate troops. Fifteen days later, on July 17, at Honey Springs, the First had perhaps its best day of the war, holding the federal center against attack. This action effectively ended any doubts west of the Mississippi about the abilities of black soldiers. Major General James Blunt would later remark, “I never saw such fighting as was done by that Negro regiment . . . . they make better soldiers in every respect than any troops I have ever had under my command.”

The worst day in the First’s Civil War record came on April 18, 1864, at Poison Springs, Arkansas, where 117 died and 65 were wounded. The death toll was aggravated by the Confederates’ execution of captured and wounded men left on the field. For black soldiers in the west, “Remember Poison Springs!” was a battle cry for the remainder of the war.

The preserved regimental flag of the First Kansas Colored Infantry documents the unit’s gallantry. Recorded on it are the battle honors of Island Mound, Cabin Creek, Honey Springs, and Poison Springs, as well as the battles of Sherwood, Prairie Deanne, Jenkins Ferry, and Camden.

The First Kansas Colored Infantry was organized into the USCT as the 79th Regiment Infantry (New), on December 13, 1864.

Several memorials have been erected in honor of the First Kansas, which underscores their importance:

First Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry Memorial in Bates County, Missouri

• Memorial at the Fort Scott National Cemetery, Kansas.

• Memorial to the First Kansas Colored on the Honey Springs Battlefield

• Memorial at the Cabin Creek Battlefield near Pensacola, Oklahoma.
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View all of the USCT flags on this cite to date by going here.

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)

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Display of the Emancipation Proclamation in Dearborn, MI; and an invite to USCT organizations

Note: This is from Yulanda Burgess of the of the “United States Colored Troops Brigade” Yahoo discussion group:

In conjunction with its “Discovering the Civil War Exhibit” which opened on May 21, The Ford Henry (AKA Greenfield Village and Henry Ford Museum) will have the original Emancipation Proclamation on display from the National Archives for three days only, June 20-22, 2011.

The nationally renown museum is located in Dearborn, Michigan, a suburban of Detroit. The entire exhibit is free only during the display of the original Emancipation Proclamation. Those visiting before or after the June dates will see only a facsimile as part of the overall Civil War exhibit. This original document has very, very limited viewing due to its fragility. The last public display of the Emancipation Proclamation was in Los Angeles at the Getty’s Gallery in November of 2003.

For more information see: http://www.thehenryford.org/events/emancipationProclamation.aspx
and
http://www.thehenryford.org/events/discoveringCivilWar.aspx

NOTE: The Henry Ford is hoping for additional responses to its invitation to US Colored Troops groups/units to participate during the Emancipation Proclamation’s display. Any unit that has received a personal invitation to participate in a vigil and encampment and act as a honor guard is urged to contact the museum as soon as possible.

USCT Regimental Flag – 22nd United States Colored Infantry

During the Civil War, many military units had their own regimental flags that they carried into battle, and this was true of units in the United States’ Colored Troops (USCT). On the third day of the month, I’ll display a flag from each of those regiments – depending on my ability to find these flags through internet searches and other sources.


Source: Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-23096; see here for more information.

This is the regimental flag for the 22nd United States Colored Infantry (USCI) of the US Colored Troops. The motto at the top of the flag is “Sic semper tyrannis,” a Latin phrase meaning “thus always to tyrants,” and sometimes translated as “death to tyrants” or “down with the tyrant.”

The history of the 22nd is here, at The Second New Jersey Brigade.com site. As noted there,

Almost 2900 Black Jerseymen served as enlisted men in the ranks of United States Colored Troops (USCT) during the Civil War. Even though locally recruited, USCT regiments were Federal outfits. These men served in a number of regiments, most of which were raised at Philadelphia’s Camp William Penn.

The 22nd United States Colored Infantry (USCI) was organized at Camp William Penn in January 1864. With 681 Jerseymen on its rolls, it was the most “Jersey” of all USCT regiments.

The 22nd USCI fought in 1864-1865 at the battles at Petersburg and Richmond; was assigned to the XXV Corp, the only all Black army corps in United States history; participated in President Lincoln’s funeral procession after General Lee’s surrender at Appomattox; and patrolled the Rio Grande River in Texas to prevent foreign encroachment into the United States through Mexico.

The following are color images of the flag:


Front of the 22nd USCI flag
Source: The Second New Jersey Brigade.com/22nd United States Colored Infantry (USCI) page


Back of the 22nd USCI flag
Source: The Second New Jersey Brigade.com/22nd United States Colored Infantry (USCI) page

More details about the 22nd USCI are at the here at Civil War Archive.com.

The flag was designed by David Bustill Bowser, an African American artist who created several USCT flags.

View all of the USCT flags on this cite to date by going here.

How many US Colored Troops monuments?; How many in the US Colored Troops?

In an earlier post, I mentioned that I was searching through the Internet to determine the number and location of monuments to US Colored Troops. I’ve now found at least nine, in CT, DC, FL, KY, KS, MD, MS, PA, and TN, and there might be one or two more than that. When I feel I’ve gotten a good list, I will share it in a blog entry.

One thing that has disappointed me is that it seems there are no USCT memorials in Louisiana. That state provided the most black soldiers to the Union (24,052 men) of any state, and its role of providing one of the first groups of blacks to serve in the federal army has been well documented. (James G. Hollandsworth, Jr.’s book The Louisiana Native Guards: The Black Military Experience During the Civil War is a great read for those who are interested in this history. I refer to the Native Guards in this blog entry.)

If any readers are aware of USCT monuments or memorials in Louisiana, please make a reply with the information. Thanks!

FYI, this is the count of US Colored Troopers by state:

COUNT OF US COLORED TROOPS
BY STATE
Union Free States & Territories Number
Pennsylvania 8,612
Ohio 5,092
New York 4,125
Massachusetts 3,966
District of Columbia 3,269
Kansas 2,080
Rhode Island 1,837
Illinois 1,811
Connecticut 1,764
Indiana 1,537
Michigan 1,387
New Jersey 1,185
Iowa 440
Wisconsin 165
New Hampshire 125
Vermont 120
Maine 104
Minnesota 104
Colorado Territory 95
TOTAL 37,818
Union Slave States Number
Kentucky 23,703
Maryland 8,718
Missouri 8,344
Delaware 954
West Virginia 196
TOTAL 41,915
Confederate (Slave) States Number
Louisiana 24,052
Tennessee 20,133
Mississippi 17,869
Virginia 5,723
Arkansas 5,526
South Carolina 5,462
North Carolina 5,035
Alabama 4,969
Georgia 3,486
Florida 1,044
Texas 47
TOTAL 93,346
Other Number
State or Territory Unknown 5,896
GRAND TOTAL – USCT 178,975

Source: Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation, 1861-1867, Volume 1, The Black Military Experience: Series II, p 12

In the main, these numbers indicate the state where the soldier enlisted. In the free states especially, it was not uncommon for a (Negro) person to leave his home state to enlist in another. So, for example, many black soldiers from other parts of the North enlisted in Massachusetts, which embraced blacks as soldiers more than, or sooner than, states like New York or Ohio. Some soldiers who enlisted in Kansas are thought to be slaves from Arkansas and Missouri. It is known that at least 5,052 men in the count of soldiers from the free Union states were recruited from Confederate states.

Why do Confederate states such as Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee have such large numbers of colored troops compared to others? It reflects the fact that, due to early Union military successes in the western parts of the Confederacy (which led to Union occupation and control in the states mentioned), the slaves in those states were free and able to enlist in the Union army sooner than those in the southeast.

US Colored Troops Memorial in Nashville, TN


 
This video talks about the monument to United States Colored Troops in the Nashville National Cemetery. It’s a very positive story, which I’m happy to share.

This article, from Civil War News.com, discusses how the monument came to be built:

The nine-foot cast bronze statue, created by Middle Tennessee artist Roy Butler, is one of a very few “freestanding monuments to African American soldiers in the country and the only one in a national facility,” according to Norm Hill, chairman of the Tennessee Historical Commission.

The project was coordinated by the African American Cultural Alliance of Nashville. The funds for the $80,000 project came from a variety of area contributors, while the Tennessee Historical Commission contributed $15,000.

“This was a grassroots effort which included church contributions, individual citizens, businesses and other Civil War groups including the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV),” said Hill. “This isn’t about North or South. That was then. Today this is about honoring our fallen soldiers.”

The idea for the memorial came up a few years ago during Black History Month at a Nashville university. Kwame Leo Lillard of the African American Cultural Alliance had longed for such recognition for years.

“I wanted us to never forget those men, most who fled slavery to fight and die for freedom,” he told the crowd. The contribution of the USCTs to the war deserves greater visibility, especially the role of the Tennesseans in the conflict, he pointed out.

Of note is a comment in the video that “there are less than ten monuments dedicated to the USCT across the nation.”


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).

The video is from the US Department of Veteran Affairs.

PS, in the above, Norm Hill of the Tennessee Historical Commission says that the Nashville African American soldiers monument in the only “freestanding monument… in a national facility.” But there is one other such monument. As noted in this comment from the US Department of Veteran Affairs, “Nashville National Cemetery is one of two in our (National Cemetery) system featuring monuments to U.S. Colored Troops (as black soldiers were then referred to.) The other is Fort Scott, Kan. The 1st Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry was assigned to the fort in 1863 and took part in five engagements.”

The Colored Soldiers, by Paul Laurence Dunbar


Paul Laurence Dunbar stamp, US Postal Service

The Colored Soldiers, by Paul Laurence Dunbar

If the muse were mine to tempt it
And my feeble voice were strong,
If my tongue were trained to measures,
I would sing a stirring song.
I would sing a song heroic
Of those noble sons of Ham,
Of the gallant colored soldiers
Who fought for Uncle Sam!

In the early days you scorned them,
And with many a flip and flout
Said “These battles are the white man’s,
And the whites will fight them out.”
Up the hills you fought and faltered,
In the vales you strove and bled,
While your ears still heard the thunder
Of the foes’ advancing tread.

Then distress fell on the nation,
And the flag was drooping low;
Should the dust pollute your banner?
No! the nation shouted, No!
So when War, in savage triumph,
Spread abroad his funeral pall–
Then you called the colored soldiers,
And they answered to your call.

And like hounds unleashed and eager
For the life blood of the prey,
Sprung they forth and bore them bravely
In the thickest of the fray.
And where’er the fight was hottest,
Where the bullets fastest fell,
There they pressed unblanched and fearless
At the very mouth of hell.

Ah, they rallied to the standard
To uphold it by their might;
None were stronger in the labors,
None were braver in the fight.
From the blazing breach of Wagner
To the plains of Olustee,
They were foremost in the fight
Of the battles of the free.

And at Pillow! God have mercy
On the deeds committed there,
And the souls of those poor victims
Sent to Thee without a prayer.
Let the fulness of Thy pity
O’er the hot wrought spirits sway
Of the gallant colored soldiers
Who fell fighting on that day!

Yes, the Blacks enjoy their freedom,
And they won it dearly, too;
For the life blood of their thousands
Did the southern fields bedew.
In the darkness of their bondage,
In the depths of slavery’s night,
Their muskets flashed the dawning,
And they fought their way to light.

They were comrades then and brothers,
Are they more or less to-day?
They were good to stop a bullet
And to front the fearful fray.
They were citizens and soldiers,
When rebellion raised its head;
And the traits that made them worthy,–
Ah! those virtues are not dead.

They have shared your nightly vigils,
They have shared your daily toil;
And their blood with yours commingling
Has enriched the Southern soil.

They have slept and marched and suffered
‘Neath the same dark skies as you,
They have met as fierce a foeman,
And have been as brave and true.

And their deeds shall find a record
In the registry of Fame;
For their blood has cleansed completely
Every blot of Slavery’s shame.
So all honor and all glory
To those noble sons of Ham–
The gallant colored soldiers
Who fought for Uncle Sam!
****

Paul Laurence Dunbar was one of the first African-American poets to gain national critical acclaim. He was born in Dayton, Ohio, in 1872. His parents were ex-slaves from Kentucky. His father was an escaped slave who served in the 55th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment and the 5th Massachusetts Colored Cavalry Regiment during the Civil War.

Dunbar was the lone black student in his high school in Dayton. That did not prevent him from excelling in school, where he was a member of the debating society, editor of the school paper and president of the school’s literary society. Two of his high school classmates were Wilbur and Orville Wright, who invested in his newspaper the Dayton Tattler, which was aimed at the city’s black community.

Dunbar died young, at the age of 33, due to tuberculosis. Even so, he created a huge body of work, including poetry, short stories and novels. He was also a lyricist for the musical comedy In Dahomey which was the first full-length musical written and performed by blacks to be booked into a Broadway theater. The play included the talents of fellow lyricist James Weldon Johnson and the vaudeville stars Bert Williams and George Walker. Although Dunbar predated the Harlem Renaissance/New Negro era of the 1920s and 1930s, his work certainly inspired the people of those times.

United Colors of the Union Army


Soldier Group, circa Civil War
Source: Library of Congress

I wish there was more to tell about this diverse group of Union “men.” The picture, from a Library of Congress collection, is simply titled “Soldier group.” Details on the photo, such as its Library of Congress reporduction number, are here.

If any one can share any information or insights on the photo, I’d be much obliged.