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, 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.”

6 thoughts on “US Colored Troops Memorial in Nashville, TN

    • I want to thank you for your recognition of the USCT statue in the Nashville Memorial Cemetary.
      Ours was truly a labor of love to assure that these brave souls would continue to receive the recognition and appreciation that they so justly deserve..

      However ; In the spirit of accuracy, I must respond that there are several plaques and epitafs about the USCT on federal properties around the country, but the monument in Nashville is truly unique.. It is in fact the ONLY figurative sculpture specific to the USCT on any US Government Veterans Cemetary in the world..
      A visual review will show that the plaque in the Kansas Cemetary is clearly not a statue.but it should be.

      The real issue here is the lack of monuments, of any kind ,that recognize the role of the USCT in preserving the Union..

      Perhaps your article will help to stimulate other cities and states to step up and be recognized in this 150th anniversary of the war.

      Norman Hill
      Tennessee Historic Commission
      13th USCT
      Nashville Tenn.

      • Mr Hill,

        Actually, your point is well taken. The object at Kansas Cemetery is more of a plaque/marker than a monument in the way that I (and you) define a “monument” in my post where I list the monuments to the USCT.

        At the time I wrote this blog entry, I had not yet defined a monument as a “as large, usually sculpted outdoor piece,” which is the criteria I used when I developed the USCT monument list. The monument in Nashville meets that criteria; the object at Kansas Cemetery does not.

        I will consider making an update to the above text given our discussion.

        – Alan

  1. Pingback: The American Civil War 150th Anniversary – December 15-21, 1864 | Clear Sight

  2. I am going to draw a petition up that will state that if we have to take the Confederate Battle Flag down then the African American Monument must also come down.See you can’t take one side out and not the other.same as hate, and racists, that also is a two sided ugly situation. The whites and the blacks fought in that war and when politicians start taking one and not the other that will cause even more problems of hate, and racism on both sides, I swear that is what they are trying for any way, they need to fix the problem not make it worse.

    • It seems to me you are mixing apples and oranges. The “other side” of the Confederate Battle Flag is the flag of the United States of American. The CBF has become, intentionally or not, the symbol of the Confederate regime, and also, of the Jim Crow South. Are you saying that we should remove the American flag?

      The “other side” of the monument to the African American Union soldier would be the many monuments to Confederate soldiers in the state. If you are saying that the African American Monument should be removed, then the fairness that you seek would require that all the monuments to Confederate soldiers should be removed. If you feel that all of those monuments should be removed, well, so be it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s