U.S. Colored Troops

and the Plight of the Refugee Slave

Come and Join Us Brothers. U.S. Colored Troop Recruitment broadside. 1863-1865. Courtesy of  Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library at Duke University

 

History of Emancipation During the Civil War

(Above, drawing by James E. Taylor, "Broken Shackles".)

"Once let the black man get upon his person the brass letter, U.S., let him get an eagle on his button, and a musket on his shoulder and bullets in his pocket, there is no power on earth that can deny that he has earned the right to citizenship."

-- Frederick Douglass

 

Missouri, being a divided state, had two governments during the Civil War. Contrary to popular belief, even the loyal Union government of Missouri was staunchly pro-slavery. The appointed provisional Governor, Hamilton Gamble, declared on 3 August, 1861, "No countenance will be afforded to any scheme or to any conduct calculated in any degree to interfere with the institution of slaver existing in the State.  To the very utmost extent of Executive power, that institution will be protected."

Due to intense warfare and to the panic generated by Confederate victories in the State, Gen. John C. Fremont issued a proclamation for state-wide martial law. On Aug. 31, 1861. Fremont stated, "The property, real and personal, of all persons in the State of Missouri who shall take up arms against the United States, or who shall be directly proven to have taken an active part with their enemies in the field, is declared to be confiscated to the public use, and their slaves, if any they have, are hereby declared freemen."  Two hundred copies of the proclamation containing this emancipation clause were distributed to Federal military commanders in the Western Department. 

Although the emancipation clause of the proclamation appears quite reasonable today, it stirred quite a lot of controversy in 1861 and Lincoln wrote Fremont suggesting he voluntarily modify it. But Fremont saw nothing wrong with it.  Fremont's refusal to personally withdraw the proclamation led to Lincoln ordering: "...The particular clause, however, in relation to the confiscation of property and the liberation of slaves appeared to me to be objectionable in its non-conformity to the act of Congress...It is therefore ordered that the said clause of said proclamation be so modified, held, and construed as to conform to ..the act of Congress entitled "An act to confiscate property used for insurrectionary purposes, approved August 6, 1861 " (correspondence to Fremont, dated 11 Sept, 1861.) It was soon afterwards that Lincoln relieved Gen. Fremont of command, partially for being defiant on this issue.

The Confiscation Act Lincoln referred to is the 1st Confiscation Act, Aug 6, 1861.  It merely provided for the confiscation of slaves, if the slaves themselves were being actively employed in the act of insurrection, aiding  or promoting insurrection. Slaves confiscated on these terms became the property of the United States Government. There was no clause in declaring them Freemen so it was not an emancipation proclamation.

It was not until July 17, 1862 that Congress approved the 2nd Confiscation Act. This act freed slaves owned by disloyal citizens, regardless if they were using the slaves in the Confederate war effort or peacefully on the family farm. This was essentially the same as Fremont's emancipation proclamation, issued a  year before. It granted slaves freedom and so it became the first legal emancipation proclamation, although limited to proven disloyal persons. It also "authorized to employ as many persons of African descent as he may deem necessary and proper for the suppression of this rebellion, and for this purpose he may organize and use them in such manner as he may judge best for the public welfare."

At the same time Congress passed the Militia Act, allowing persons of African descent to be employed by the U.S. Government "for the purpose of constructing intrenchments, or performing camp service or any other labor, or any military or naval service for which they may be found competent..." These members of the militia would also rations the same as soldiers and "receive ten dollars per month and one ration, three dollars of which monthly pay may be in clothing." This was also the first official use of black soldiers in the U.S. military.

On September 22, 1862 President Lincoln issues a warning to the Southern States that a general  Emancipation Proclamation will go into effect Jan 1, 1863 for any state or designated part of a state still in rebellion against the United States. It is important to note that this does not include the State of Missouri for which the Union Army had already installed a loyal Union Government, under Gov. Hamilton Gamble. Essentially Missouri had rebels within its borders but she was not a state in rebellion.

More significantly to Missouri the Emancipation Proclamation, drafted on Sept 22, 1862 contained an article that made a  change in the enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act, "All officers or persons in the military or naval service of the United States are prohibited from employing any of the forces under their respective commands for the purpose of returning fugitives from service or labor who may have escaped from any persons to whom such service or labor is claimed to be due, and any officer who shall be found guilty by a court-martial of violating this article shall be dismissed from the service."  State militia and civil slave patrols continued to pursue fugitive slaves but no longer the U.S. military.

On January 1, 1863 the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect. The following states or portions of states were excluded: Tennessee, southern Louisiana (New Orleans vicinity), West Virginia. The border slave states Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, and Missouri were also not included, although Federal troops would no longer be returning fugitive slaves.

The Emancipation Proclamation contrary to popular myth did free some slaves immediately. These were in areas occupied by Federal troops but were still declared in rebellion. Immediately freed slaves included those in Union held areas of Arkansas and the coastal islands of South Carolina. Newly freed Arkansas slaves started arriving in St. Louis on steamboats as early as March of 1863.

In Spring of 1863, widespread recruitment of the U.S. Colored Troops had begun.

As early as Spring 1864, many Missouri planters began offering wages or the share-crop option to their slaves as an incentive for them to remain tending the crops. This had a noticeable impact as 1864 brought a drastic reduction in Colored Troop recruitment.

Slavery collapsed in Missouri by the influx of slave refugees and the enlistment of U.S. Colored Troops. By the time slavery was officially abolished in the State (Jan. 11, 1865), most Missouri slaves had freed themselves either by running away, becoming employed instead of enslaved, or by joining the Army.

Missouri Governor Thomas C. Fletcher announced "henceforth and forever, no person within the jurisdiction of this state shall....known any master but God." In St. Louis,  jubilant crowds of blacks and whites jointly singing, waving  U.S. flags in celebration.

In 1889 the last known Missouri slave, Edie Hickam, was finally told she was free. Her owner, Joseph Hickam kept her in ignorance of her freedom for twenty-four years. In 1889 she filed suit for $5 a month ($1,400). She won her case but was awarded only $700  in a court in Booneville, Mo.

 


Facts About U.S. Colored Troops, and Slave Refugees

of Civil War Missouri (and beyond)

Center design of the 6th U.S. Colored Troops regimental flag. The top motto reads, "Freedom for all". From the Library of Congress Collection.

1) Only men ages 18 to 45, of good health and physical condition could enlist in the U.S. Colored Troops. Before December 1863, Missouri slaves of loyal masters needed consent before enrolling.

2) The first colored regiment organized  in the State of Missouri was the 3rd Arkansas Infantry (African Descent). It was composed of primarily Missourians but because of prejudice the State did not want to claim them as their own. The unit was composed of freemen and slaves of master's loyal to the Union. They began recruitment on shortly after May 22, 1863 and were organized Aug 12, 1863 at Schofield Barracks, St. Louis, Mo. They were redesignated the 56th U.S. Colored Troops on March 11, 1864. Most of their service was garrison duty at Helena, Arkansas but they did go on two nearby expeditions. The regiment lost a whopping 674 men. 25 killed; 649 died of disease. It remained on duty at Helena till mustered out, Sept. 15, 1866.

3) Missouri was the first State to see Colored Troops in combat. At Island Mound, Missouri in the western part of the state, the 1st Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry saw action against Confederates (Oct. 29, 1862).  [Kansas was a bit premature in forming this unit according to Federal law. Most of the men of this regiment were former slaves from Arkansas and Missouri. Out of convenience, the owners of these slaves were assumed to be all disloyal.]  A detail of soldiers of this unit went out on picket duty and were separated from the main part of the regiment. They took refuge in a ravine and held their ground. Capt. Richard Ward who commanded these troops stated, "I have witnessed some hard fights, but I never saw a braver sight than that handful of brave men fighting...Not one surrendered or gave up a weapon."  One of the Confederates reported that "The black devils fought like tigers...not one would surrender, though they had tried to take a prisoner."

4) Originally the slaveowner's consent was required before a slave could enlist. Order No. 135 of Nov. 1863 changed this, allowing enlistment without consent. If the owner did consented they were given some compensation. In addition, the order abolished the highly effective recruitment patrols. There was some dispute that these patrols were forcing some slaves against their will.  Certainly they were opposed by most slaveowners.  Unfortunately the change required slaves willing to enlist, to travel to the recruitment stations, sometimes many miles away..

5) Runaway slaves seeking to enlist had to overcome many risks on their journey. Slave Patrols, bushwhackers, and guerrillas.

6) If a runaway slave made it to the recruiting station (usually the office of the Provost Marshall), he still could be rejected due to poor health or physical condition. If rejected he became a refugee and if outside of the contraband camps, risked danger of being captured by a slave patrol.

7) Men of the U.S. Colored Troops often escaped from master's that disapproved of blacks being soldiers. After they enlisted, if their  families were not in the contraband camp, sometimes masters  abused. their wives or children in retaliation..

8) Some families of soldiers were sold as revenge for slave joining the Army. Usually slaves were sold to Kentucky were it was also a protected institution.

9) On Nov 10, 1863, Gen. John M. Schofield issued Special Order 307, an order that prohibited the selling of slaves from the State. A month later he modified it allowing the sale of any slave unfit for military service.

10)  Most U.S. Colored Regiments were assigned Post and Garrison Duty or labor on fortifications. This included guarding Confederate prisoners of war. When they saw action they demonstrated that they could fight as well as white troops.

11)  Missouri ranked 4th of the Union States, in regard to the number of Colored troop enlistments (8,344). This represents 39 percent of the prewar black males (21,167), age 18 to 45.

12)  In addition to Missouri units, many black Missourians served in regiments of other States. Most of the Kansas Colored Troops (2,080) were from runaway or abducted slaves from Missouri. (Kansas' prewar black male population was only 126, age 18 to 45.) Also Eastern recruiters often came to St. Louis looking to enlist black Missourians. Some joined units as far away as Massachusetts.

13)  Four companies (Co. G, H, I, K) of the 1st Iowa Colored Troops (60th U.S. Colored Infantry) were composed of Missourians. The regiment finished its organization at Benton Barracks in St. Louis, Mo.  Iowa could only claim 440 men of this regiment and  of this number, many were former Missouri slaves. Iowa's prewar male population of military age was only 249.

14) Four regiments were organized at Benton Barracks, St. Louis, Mo. These were the following:

15) Colored Troops had separate hospital wards at Benton Barracks. Nurses were staffed by  the Colored Ladies Union Aid Society.

 16) Not all the troops at Benton Barracks experienced good treatment from the government. Lt. Col. William F. Fox, U.S.V. reported that for the 2nd Missouri Colored Infantry, "Over 100 men died at [Benton] Barracks before the regiment took the field, the men having been enlisted by the Provost-Marshals throughout the State and forwarded to this Post during an inclement season,-- thinly clad, and many of them hatless, shoeless, and without food. Many suffered amputation of frozen feet or hands, and the diseases engendered by this exposure resulted in a terrible and unprecedented mortality."

17) A contraband camp of former slaves was also located at Benton Barracks, north of the City of St. Louis (in present location of Fairgrounds Park in present day north St. Louis). During the summer of 1863, St. Louis was inundated by thousands of refugee slaves. The government had no way to determine which of these individuals were slaves or "freedmen", thus they were all treated as freedmen. On certain occasions slave owners (or slave catchers) tried to retrieve their subjects, but Union guards would only allow slaves to go willingly and without abuse.

18)  Colored Troops went long periods of time without pay. Rarely were they able to send  money back to help their families. Men who were rejected for service in the Army were anxious to work for money instead.  James E. Yeatman of the Western Sanitary Commission (a forerunner of the Red Cross) gave this description: "Besides the fact that men are thus pressed into service, thousands have been employed for weeks and months, who have never received any thing but promises to pay. This negligence and failure to comply with obligations, have greatly disheartened the poor slave, who comes forth at the call of the President, and supposes himself a free man, and that, by leaving his rebel master, he is inflicting a blow on the enemy, ceasing to labor and to provide food for him and for the armies of the rebellion. Thus he was promised freedom, but how is it with him ? He is seized in the street, and ordered to go and help unload a steamboat, for which he will be paid, or to sent to work in the trenches, or to labor for some quartermaster, or to chop wood for the Government.  He labors for months, and at last is only paid with promises, unless perchance it may be with kicks, cuffs, and curses."

19) Life at the contraband camps was very harsh for the families of soldiers. Yeatman: "The poor negroes are everywhere greatly depressed at their condition.  They all testify that if they were only paid their little wages as they earn them, so they could purchase clothing, and were furnished with the provisions promised, they could stand it; but to work and get poorly paid, poorly fed, and not doctored when sick, is more than they can endure.  Among the thousands whom I questioned, none showed the least unwillingness to work.  If they could only be paid fair wages, they would be contented and happy.  They do not realize that they are taken and hired out to men who treat them, so far as providing for them is concerned, far worse than their "secesh" masters did.  Besides this they feel that their pay or hire is lower now than it was when the "secesh" used to hire them.  This is true."

20) In wartime Missouri, no matter what Congress says, there were no guarantees for former slaves. "...Every day blacks and colored people of all shades--men, women, and children--are thrown into it, who had believed in the gospel of liberty...We spoke to an old soldier of the Twelfth Regiment [Colored Troops], who had carried a musket in the service of liberty since the commencement of the war...A negro who has gone through all the toils of the Twelfth Regiment for two years is now a fugitive slave in the jail, caught on Lincoln's slave-hunting ground in Missouri......who has given our Provost-Marshal-General Broadhead authority to recall and declare null and void the free papers which have been given by his predecessors or by former commanders of this department to the slaves of rebel masters? Does a slave become a free man by a certificate of liberty, duly made out by competent authority, or is such a certificate of liberty a mere piece of paper, which may be torn up at pleasure? [--Spirit of the German Press, The Westliche Post. Article in Official Records, Maj. Gen. J. M. Schofield, dated Saint Louis, September 20, 1863]

21) The highest ranking black was Martin R. Delaney, commissioned a Major and "graduate of the Harvard Medical School and the first Negro field officer to serve in the Civil War." He served in the 104th Regiment U.S. Colored Troops. [The New York Times, Mar.1, 1865]

22)  Lincoln University of Missouri (Jefferson City) was founded in 1866 by officers and men of the 62nd and 65th U.S. Colored Troops.

The following facts on U.S. Colored Troops was authored by the National Archives:

1) "179,000 black men (10% of the Union Army) served as soldiers in the U.S. Army and another 19,000 served in the Navy."

2) "Nearly 40,000 black soldiers died over the course of the waró30,000 of infection or disease"

3) In 1863 the Confederate Congress threatened to punish severely officers of black troops and to enslave black soldiers. As a result, President Lincoln issued General Order 233, threatening reprisal on Confederate prisoners of war (POWs) for any mistreatment of black troops. Although the threat generally restrained the Confederates, black captives were typically treated more harshly than white captives..

4) Black soldiers were initially paid $10 per month from which $3 was automatically deducted for clothing, resulting in a net pay of $7. In contrast, white soldiers received $13 per month from which no clothing allowance was drawn.

5) In June 1864 Congress granted equal pay to the U.S. Colored Troops and made the action retroactive. Black soldiers received the same rations and supplies. In addition, they received comparable medical care.

6) Black soldiers served in artillery and infantry and performed all non-combat support functions that sustain an army, as well. Black carpenters, chaplains, cooks, guards, laborers, nurses, scouts, spies, steamboat pilots, surgeons, and teamsters also contributed to the war cause.

6)  Because of prejudice against them, black units were not used in combat as extensively as they might have been. Nevertheless, the soldiers served with distinction in a number of battles. Black infantrymen fought gallantly at Milliken's Bend, LA; Port Hudson, LA; Petersburg, VA;  Nashville, TN"  (and the assault on Fort Wagner, SC by the 54th Massachusetts.)

For more on Slavery and the Civil War in Missouri, see my other article, "Slavery in St. Louis".


U.S. Colored Troops and Sailor Awarded Medal of Honor

APPLETON, WILLIAM H.

Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, Company H, 4th U.S. Colored Troops. Place and date: At Petersburg, Va., 15 June 1864; At New Market Heights, Va., 29 September 1864. Entered service at: Portsmouth, N.H. Born: 24 March 1843, Chichester, N.H. Date of issue: 18 February 1891. Citation: The first man of the Eighteenth Corps to enter the enemy's works at Petersburg, Va., 15 June 1864. Valiant service in a desperate assault at New Market Heights, Va., inspiring the Union troops by his example of steady courage

BARNES, WILLIAM H.

Rank and organization: Private, Company C, 38th U.S. Colored Troops. Place and date: At Chapins Farm, Va., 29 September 1864. Entered service at:------. Birth: St. Marys County, Md. Date of issue 6 April 1865. Citation: Among the first to enter the enemy's works; although wounded.

BARRELL, CHARLES L.

Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, Company C, 102d U.S. Colored Troops. Place and date: Near Camden, S.C., April 1865. Entered service at: Leighton, Allegan County, Mich. Birth:------. Date of issue: 14 May 1891. Citation: Hazardous service in marching through the enemy's country to bring relief to his command.

BATES, DELAVAN

Rank and organization: Colonel, 30th U.S. Colored Troops. Place and date: At Cemetery Hill, Va., 30 July 1864. Entered service at: Oswego County, N.Y. Born: 1840, Schoharie County, N.Y. Date of issue: 22 June 1891. Citation: Gallantry in action where he fell, shot through the face, at the head of his regiment.

BEATY, POWHATAN

Rank and organization: First Sergeant, Company G, 5th U.S. Colored Troops. Place and date: At Chapins Farm, Va., 29 September 1864. Entered service at: Delaware County, Ohio. Birth: Richmond, Va. Date of issue: 6 April 1865. Citation: Took command of his company, all the officers having been killed or wounded, and gallantly led it.

BENNETT, ORSON W.

Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, Company A, 102d U.S. Colored Troops. Place and date: At Honey Hill, S.C., 30 November 1864. Entered service at: Michigan. Born: 17 November 1841, Union City Branch County, Mich. Date of issue: 9 March 1887. Citation: After several unsuccessful efforts to recover 3 pieces of abandoned artillery, this officer gallantly led a small force fully 100 yards in advance of the Union lines and brought in the guns, preventing their capture.

BLAKE, ROBERT

Rank and organization: Contraband, U.S. Navy. Entered service at: Virginia. G.O. No.: 32, 16 April 1864. Accredited to: Virginia. Citation: On board the U.S. Steam Gunboat Marblehead off Legareville, Stono River, 25 December 1863, in an engagement with the enemy on John's Island. Serving the rifle gun, Blake, an escaped slave, carried out his duties bravely throughout the engagement which resulted in the enemy's abandonment of positions, leaving a caisson and one gun behind.

BRONSON, JAMES H.

Rank and organization: First Sergeant, Company D, 5th U.S. Colored Troops. Place and date: At Chapins Farm, Va., 29 September 1864. Entered service at: Delaware County, Ohio. Birth: Indiana County, Pa. Date of issue: 6 April 1865. Citation: Took command of his company, all the officers having been killed or wounded, and gallantly led it.

BRUSH, GEORGE W.

Rank and organization: Lieutenant, Company B, 34th U.S. Colored Troops. Place and date: At Ashepoo River, S.C., 24 May 1864. Entered service at: New York. Born: 4 October 1842, West Kill, N.Y. Date of issue: 21 January 1897. Citation: Voluntarily commanded a boat crew, which went to the rescue of a large number of Union soldiers on board the stranded steamer Boston, and with great gallantry succeeded in conveying them to shore, being exposed during the entire time to heavy fire from a Confederate battery.

DAVIDSON, ANDREW

Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, Company H, 30th U.S. Colored Troops. Place and date: At the mine, Petersburg, Va., 30 July 1864. Entered service at: Otsego County, N.Y. Born: 12 February 1840, Scotland. Date of issue: 17 October 1892. Citation: One of the first to enter the enemy's works, where, after his colonel, major, and one-third the company officers had fallen, he gallantly assisted in rallying and saving the remnant of the command.

DORSEY, DECATUR

Rank and organization: Sergeant, Company B, 39th U.S. Colored Troops. Place and date: At Petersburg, Va., 30 July 1864. Entered service at: Baltimore County, Md. Birth: Howard County, Md. Date of issue: 8 November 1865. Citation: Planted his colors on the Confederate works in advance of his regiment, and when the regiment was driven back to the Union works he carried the colors there
and bravely rallied the men.

EDGERTON, NATHAN H.

Rank and organization: Lieutenant and Adjutant, 6th U.S. Colored Troops. Place and date: At Chapins Farm, Va., 29 September 1864. Entered service at: Philadelphia, Pa. Birth: ------. Date of issue: 30 March 1898. Citation: Took up the flag after 3 color bearers had been shot down and bore it forward, though himself wounded.

EVANS, IRA H.

Rank and organization: Captain, Company B, 116th U.S. Colored Troops, Place and date: At Hatchers Run, Va., 2 April 1865. Entered service at: Barre, Vt. Born: 11 April 1844, Piermont, N.H. Date of issue: 24 March 1892. Citation: Voluntarily passed between the lines, under a heavy fire from the enemy, and obtained important information.

FLEETWOOD, CHRISTIAN A.

Rank and organization: Sergeant Major, 4th U.S. Colored Troops, Place and date: At Chapins Farm, Va., 29 September 1864. Entered service at: ------. Birth: Baltimore, Md. Date of issue: 6 April 1865. Citation: Seized the colors, after 2 color bearers had been shot down, and bore them nobly through the fight.

GARDINER, JAMES

Rank and organization: Private, Company I, 36th U.S. Colored Troops. Place and date: At Chapins Farm, Va., 29 September 1864. Entered service at:------. Birth: Gloucester, Va. Date of issue: 6 April 1865. Citation: Rushed in advance of his brigade, shot a rebel officer who was on the parapet rallying his men, and then ran him through with his bayonet.

HARRIS, JAMES H.

Rank and organization: Sergeant, Company B, 38th U.S. Colored Troops. Place and date: At New Market Heights, Va., 29 September 1864. Entered service at:------. Birth: St. Marys County, Md. Date of issue: 18 February 1874. Citation: Gallantry in the assault.

HAWKINS, THOMAS R.

Rank and organization: Sergeant Major, 6th U.S. Colored Troops. Place and date: At Chapins Farm, Va., 29 September 1864. Entered service at: Philadelphia, Pa. Birth: Cincinnati, Ohio. Date of issue: 8 February 1870. Citation: Rescue of regimental colors.

HILTON, ALFRED B.

Rank and organization: Sergeant, Company H, 4th U.S. Colored Troops. Place and date. At Chapins Farm, Va., 29 September 1864. Entered service at:------. Birth: Harford County, Md. Date of issue: 6 April 1865. Citation: When the regimental color bearer fell, this soldier seized the color and carried it forward, together with the national standard, until disabled at the enemy's inner line.

HOLLAND, MILTON M.

Rank and organization: Sergeant Major, 5th U.S. Colored Troops. Place and date: At Chapins Farm, Va., 29 September 1864. Entered service at: Athens, Ohio. Born: 1844, Austin, Tex. Date of issue: 6 April 1865. Citation: Took command of Company C, after all the officers had been killed or wounded, and gallantly led it.

JAMES, MILES

Rank and organization: Corporal, Company B, 36th U.S. Colored Troops. Place and date: At Chapins Farm, Va., 30 September 1864. Entered service at: Norfolk, Va. Birth: Princess Anne County, Va. Date of issue: 6 April 1865. Citation: Having had his arm mutilated, making immediate amputation necessary, he loaded and discharged his piece with one hand and urged his men forward; this within 30 yards of the enemy's works.

KELLY, ALEXANDER

Rank and organization: First Sergeant, Company F, 6th U.S. Colored Troops. Place and date: At Chapins Farm, Va., 29 September 1864. Entered service at: ------. Birth. Pennsylvania. Date of issue: 6 April 1865. Citation: Gallantly seized the colors, which had fallen near the enemy's lines of abatis, raised them and rallied the men at a time of confusion and in a place of the greatest danger.

MERRIAM, HENRY C.

Rank and organization: Lieutenant Colonel, 73d U.S. Colored Troops. Place and date: At Fort Blakely, Ala., 9 April 1865. Entered service at: Houlton, Maine. Birth: Houlton, Maine. Date of issue: 28 June 1894. Citation: Volunteered to attack the enemy's works in advance of orders and, upon permission being given, made a most gallant assault.

NICHOLS, HENRY C.

Rank and organization: Captain, Company E, 73d U.S. Colored Troops. Place and date: At Fort Blakely, Ala., 9 April 1865. Entered service at: ------. Birth: Brandon, Vt. Date of issue: 3 August 1897. Citation: Voluntarily made a reconnaissance in advance of the line held by his regiment and, under a heavy fire, obtained information of great value.

PINN, ROBERT

Rank and organization: First Sergeant, Company I, 5th U.S. Colored Troops. Place and date: At Chapins Farm, Va., 29 September 1864. Entered service at: Massillon, Ohio. Born: 1 March 1843, Stark County, Ohio. Date of issue: 6 April 1865. Citation: Took command of his company after all the officers had been killed or wounded and gallantly led it in battle.

RATCLIFF, EDWARD

Rank and organization: First Sergeant, Company C, 38th U.S. Colored Troops. Place and date: At Chapins Farm, Va., 29 September 1864. Entered service at: ------. Birth: James County, Va. Date of issue: 6 April 1865. Citation. Commanded and gallantly led his company after the commanding officer had been killed; was the first enlisted man to enter the enemy's works.

THORN, WALTER

Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant, Company G, 116th U.S. Colored Troops. Place and date: At Dutch Gap Canal, Va., 1 January 1865. Entered service at:------. Birth: New York, N.Y. Date of issue: 8 December 1898. Citation: After the fuze to the mined bulkhead had been lit, this officer, learning that the picket guard had not been withdrawn, mounted the bulkhead and at great personal peril warned the guard of its danger.

VEAL, CHARLES

Rank and organization: Private, Company D, 4th U.S. Colored Troops. Place and date: At Chapins Farm, Va., 29 September 1864. Entered service at: Portsmouth, Va. Birth: Portsmouth Va. Date of issue: 6 April 1865. Citation: Seized the national colors after 2 color bearers had been shot down close to the enemy's works, and bore them through the remainder of the battle.

WRIGHT, ALBERT D.

Rank and organization: Captain, Company G, 43d U.S. Colored Troops. Place and date: At Petersburg, Va., 30 July 1864. Entered service at:------. Born: 10 December 1844, Elkland, Tioga County, Pa. Date of issue: 1 May 1893. Citation: Advanced beyond the enemy's lines, capturing a stand of colors and its color guard; was severely wounded.
 


 

Brief Regimental Histories of Units with a Significant Number of Missourians Present:

3rd REGIMENT ARKANSAS INFANTRY (AFRICAN DESCENT).
Organized at St. Louis, Mo., August 12, 1863. Attached to District of Eastern Arkansas, Dept. Arkansas, to January, 1864. Little Rock, Ark., 7th Army Corps, Dept. Ark., to March, 1864.
SERVICE.--Ordered to Helena, Ark., and Post duty there and at Little Rock till March, 1864. Expedition from Helena up White River February 4-8, 1864, and up St. Francis River February 13-14.Designation of Regiment changed to 56th U.S. Colored Troops March 11, 1864.

1st REGIMENT COLORED KANSAS INFANTRY.
Organized at Fort Scott and mustered in as a Battalion January 13, 1863. Attached to Dept. of Kansas to June, 1863. District of the Frontier, Dept. Missouri, to January, 1864. Unattached, District of the Frontier, 7th Corps, Dept. of Arkansas, to March, 1864. 2nd Brigade, District of the Frontier, 7th Corps, to December, 1864.

SERVICE.--Duty in the Dept. of Kansas October, 1862, to June, 1863. Action at Island Mound, Mo., October 27, 1862. Island Mound, Kansas, October 29. Butler, Mo., November 28. Ordered to Baxter Springs May, 1863. Scout from Creek Agency to Jasper County, Mo., May 16-19 (Detachment). Sherwood, Mo., May 18. Bush Creek May 24. Near Fort Gibson May 28. Shawnee town, Kan., June 6 (Detachment). March to Fort Gibson, C. N., June 27-July 5, with train. Action at Cabin Creek July 1-2. Elk Creek near Honey Springs July 17. At Fort Gibson till September. Lawrence, Kan. July 27 (Detachment). Near Sherwood August 14 Moved to Fort Smith, Ark., October, thence to Roseville December, and duty there till March, 1864. Horse Head Creek February 12, 1864. Roseville Creek March 20. Steele's Camden Expedition March 23-May 3. Prairie D'Ann April 9-12. Poison Springs April 18. Jenkins Ferry April 30. March to Fort Smith, Ark., May 3-16, and duty there till December. Fort Gibson, C. N. September 16. Cabin Creek September 19. Timber Hill November 19. Designation of Regiment changed <dy_1187> to 79th U.S. Colored Troops December 13, 1864, which see.

1st REGIMENT MISSOURI COLORED INFANTRY.
Organized at Benton Barracks, Mo., December 7-14, 1863. Attached to District of St. Louis, Mo., to January, 1864. Ordered to Port Hudson, La. Designation changed to 62nd Regiment United States Colored Troops March 11, 1864

2nd REGIMENT MISSOURI  COLORED INFANTRY.
Organized at Benton Barracks December 18, 1863, to January 16, 1864. Duty there till March, 1864. Designation changed to 65th Regiment United States Colored Troops March 11, 1864 .

3rd REGIMENT MISSOURI  COLORED INFANTRY.
Organized at Benton Barracks, Mo. Designation changed to 67th United States Colored Troops March 11, 1864

4th REGIMENT MISSOURI  COLORED INFANTRY.
Organized at Benton Barracks, Mo. Designation changed to 68th United States Colored Troops March 11, 1864


56th REGIMENT INFANTRY.
Organized March 11, 1864, from 3rd Arkansas Infantry (African Descent). Attached to District of Eastern Arkansas, 7th Corps, Dept. of Arkansas, to August, 1865. Dept. of Arkansas to September, 1866.
SERVICE.--Post and garrison duty at Helena, Ark., till February, 1865. Action at Indian Bay April 13, 1864. Muffleton Lodge June 29. Operations in Arkansas July 1-31. Wallace's Ferry, Big Creek, July 26. Expedition from Helena up White River August 29-September 3. Expedition from Helena to Friar's Point, Miss., February 19-22, 1865. Duty at Helena and other points in Arkansas till September, 1866. Mustered out September 15, 1866. Regiment lost during service 4 Officers and 21 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 2 Officers and 647 Enlisted men by disease. Total 674.

60th REGIMENT INFANTRY.
Organized March 11, 1864, from 1st Iowa Colored Infantry. Attached to District of Eastern Arkansas, 7th Corps, Dept. of Arkansas, to April, 1865. 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 7th Corps, to August, 1865. Dept. of Arkansas to October, 1865.

SERVICE.--Post and garrison duty at Helena, Ark., till April, 1865. Expedition from Helena to Big Creek July 25, 1864. Action at Wallace's Ferry, Big Creek, July 26. Expedition to Kent's Landing August 11-13. Expedition up White River August 29-September 3 (Cos. "C" and "F"). Scout to Alligator Bayou September 9-14 (Detachment). Scouts to Alligator Bayou September 22-28 and October 1-4. Expedition to Harbert's Plantation, Miss., January 11-16, 1865 (Co. "C"). Moved to Little Rock April 8, 1865, and duty there till August 20. Moved to Duvall's Bluff, thence to Jacksonport, Ark. Duty there and at various points in Sub-District of White River, in White, Augusta, Franklin and Fulton Counties, Powhatan on Black River and at Batesville till September. Mustered out at Duvall's Bluff October 15, 1865. Discharged November 2, 1865.

62nd REGIMENT INFANTRY.
Organized March 11, 1864, from 1st Missouri Colored Infantry. Attached to District of St. Louis, Dept. of Missouri, to March, 1864. District of Baton Rouge, La., Dept. of the Gulf, to June, 1864. Provisional Brigade, District of Morganza, Dept. of the Gulf, to September, 1864. 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, United States Colored Troops, District of Morganza, Dept. of the Gulf, to September, 1864. Port Hudson, La., Dept. of the Gulf, to September, 1864. Brazos Santiago, Texas, to October, 1864. 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, United States Colored Troops, Dept. of the Gulf, to December, 1864. Brazos Santiago, Texas, to June, 1865. Dept. of Texas to March, 1866.
SERVICE.--Ordered to Baton Rouge, La., March 23, 1864, and duty there till June. Ordered to Morganza, La., and duty there till September. Expedition from Morganza to Bayou Sara September 6-7. Ordered to Brazos Santiago, Texas, September, and duty there till May, 1865. Expedition from Brazos Santiago May 11-14. Action at Palmetto Ranch May 12-13, 1865. White's Ranch May 13. Last action of the war. Duty at various points in Texas till March, 1866. Ordered to St. Louis via New Orleans, La. Mustered out March 31, 1866.

65th REGIMENT INFANTRY.
Organized March 11, 1864, from 2nd Missouri Colored Infantry. Attached to Dept. of Missouri to June, 1864. Provisional Brigade, District of Morganza, La., Dept. of the Gulf, to September, 1864. 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, United States Colored Troops, District of Morganza, Dept. of the Gulf, to February, 1865. 1st Brigade, 1st Division, United States Colored Troops, District of Morganza, La., Dept. of the Gulf, to May, 1865. Northern District of Louisiana and Dept. of the Gulf to January, 1867.
SERVICE.--Garrison duty at Morganza, La., till May, 1865. Ordered to Port Hudson, La. Garrison duty there and at Baton Rouge and in Northern District of Louisiana till January, 1867. Mustered out January 8, 1867. Regiment lost during service 6 Officers and 749 Enlisted men by disease.

67th REGIMENT INFANTRY.
Organized March 11, 1864, from 3rd Missouri Colored Infantry. Attached to Dept. of Missouri to March, 1864. District of Port Hudson, La., Dept. of the Gulf, to June, 1864. Provisional Brigade, District of Morganza, Dept. of the Gulf, to September, 1864. 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, United States Colored Troops, District of Morganza, Dept. of the Gulf, to February, 1865. 1st Brigade, 1st Division, United States Colored Troops, District of Morganza, Dept. of the Gulf, to May, 1865. Northern District of Louisiana, Dept. of the Gulf, to July, 1865.
SERVICE.--Moved from Benton Barracks, Mo., to Port Hudson, La., arriving March 19, 1864, and duty there till June. Moved to Morganza, La., and duty there till June, 1865. Action at Mt. Pleasant Landing, La., May 15, 1864 (Detachment). Expedition from Morganza to Bayou Sara September 6-7, 1864. Moved to Port Hudson June 1, 1865. Consolidated with 65th Regiment, United States Colored Troops, July 12, 1865.


68th REGIMENT INFANTRY.
Organized March 11, 1864, from 4th. Missouri Colored Infantry. Attached to District of Memphis, Tenn., 16th Corps, Dept. of the Tennessee, to June, 1864. 1st Colored Brigade, Memphis, Tenn., District of West Tennessee, to December, 1864. Fort Pickering, Defences of Memphis, Tenn., District of West Tennessee, to February, 1865. 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, United States Colored Troops, Military Division West Mississippi, to May, 1865. 1st Brigade, 1st Division, United States Colored Troops, District of West Florida, to June, 1865. Dept. of Texas to February, 1866.
SERVICE.--At St. Louis, Mo., till April 27, 1864. Ordered to Memphis, Tenn., and duty in the Defences of that city till February, 1865. Smith's Expedition to Tupelo, Miss., July 5-21, 1864. Camargo's Cross Roads, near Harrisburg, July 13. Tupelo July 14-15. Old Town Creek July 15. At Fort Pickering, Defences of Memphis, Tenn., till February, 1865. Ordered to New Orleans, La., thence to Barrancas, Fla. March from Pensacola, Fla., to Blakely, Ala., March 20-April 1. Siege of Fort Blakely April 1-9. Assault and capture of Fort Blakely April 9. Occupation of Mobile April 12. March to Montgomery April 13-25. Duty there and at Mobile till June. Moved to New Orleans, La., thence to Texas. Duty on the Rio Grande and at various points in Texas till February, 1866. Mustered out February 5, 1866.

79th REGIMENT INFANTRY.--(NEW.)
Organized from 1st Kansas Colored Infantry December 13, 1864. Attached to 2nd Brigade, District of the Frontier, 7th Corps, Dept. of Arkansas, to January, 1865. Colored Brigade, 7th Corps, to February, 1865. 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 7th Corps, to August, 1865. Dept. of Arkansas to October, 1865.
SERVICE.--Duty at Fort Smith, Ark., till January, 1865. Skirmish at Ivey's Ford January 8. Ordered to Little Rock January 16. Skirmish at Clarksville, Ark., January 18. Duty at Little Rock, Ark., till July, and at Pine Bluff till October. Mustered out at Pine Bluff, Ark., October 1, 1865, and discharged at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, October 30, 1865.
Regiment lost during service 5 Officers and 183 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 1 Officer and 165 Enlisted men by disease. Total 354.
 


What About Black Confederates ?

Across the South there was a significant minority of slaves and freemen that sided with the Confederacy. Some were promised freedom others were doing it because they believed it was their duty to defend their native States from invaders. This does not mean they were fighting to preserve slavery.

In Missouri, since most slave owners were pro-Union, and the State was occupied by the Union Army, there were very few black Confederates. For free blacks in Missouri, the Confederacy had nothing to offer to rally them to their cause. A dozen or so rode with Confederate guerilla forces of Quantrill and a few served elsewhere. Their numbers in Missouri do not compare with the visibility of black Confederate in other southern States. Please see the author's article on Black Confederates in the Civil War for more information.

About the Author: Scott K. Williams is a St. Louis historian and writes articles for the American Local History Network.  He is also a descendant of Union soldiers, Confederate soldiers, Abolitionists, and a member of the U.S. Grant Camp, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War. He is also author of , "Slavery in St. Louis", "U.S. Colored Troops And the Plight of  the Refugee Slave", and "Benton Barracks". 

Related Links:

Benton Barracks

Slavery in St. Louis

Father Moses Dickson Cemetery

Black Confederates in the Civil War

Soldier Search (National Park Service)

Regimental Histories (National Park Service)

"Freedom Fighters", United States Colored Troops in the Civil War

Digital Classroom: Black Soldiers of the Civil War (National Archives)

Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Duke University

 

Background tune: "Kingdom Coming", a Civil War abolitionist tune by Henry Clay Work, 1862. Courtesy of Benjamin R. Tubb  http://www.pdmusic.org/