Pennsylvania Grand Review

Honoring African American Patriots 1865 / 2010

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USCT at the Battle of Milliken’s Bend (June 7, 1863)

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The Battle of Milliken’s Bend on June 7, 1863 was only a small part of the Vicksburg Campaign, but this engagement represented another important moment for African American participation in the Civil War. The three African American regiments, which had just been organized during the previous month, played an important part in the Confederate forces defeat. Victory, however, came at a high cost for those three regiments – almost 8% of the men who participated were killed. Yet as historian Richard Lowe observes, this battle “loom[ed] large in the overall history of the Civil War.” Even Confederates recognized the significance. “The obstinacy with which they fought…open the eyes of the Confederacy to the consequences” of the decision to allow African Americans to fight, as Confederate General John G. Walker recalled. Reports about the battle were published in newspapers across the country. While “at first [they] gave way,” the Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper made sure to note in their short summary that “the colored troops…[saw] their wounded massacred, rallied, and after one of the most deadly encounters in the war, drove the rebels back.” A letter published in Harper’s Weekly offered a similar account: “It was a genuine bayonet charge, a hand-to-hand fight, that has never occurred to any extent during this prolonged conflict.”

(Courtesy of the House Divided Project – “Louisiana,” Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, June 27, 1863, p. 210: 2-3 ; “The Fight at Milliken’s Bend,” Harper’s Weekly, July 4, 1863, p. 427: 4.)

See a slideshow of images related to the Battle of Milliken’s Bend

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Posted Tuesday, April 6th, 2010 at 5:39 pm.

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USCT Image Gallery 2

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Watch a short slideshow or take a look at these USCT related images.

(Courtesy of the Library of Congress)

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Posted Monday, April 5th, 2010 at 11:36 am.

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USCT Liberating Slaves

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As USCT regiments entered southern states, they had the opportunity on numerous occasions to liberate slaves. After one USCT regiment liberated slaves from a plantation in North Carolina, an editorial in Harpers Weekly noted that they “[left] ‘Ole Massa’ to glory in solitude and secession.” You can read the full article here as well as view the accompanying illustration.

(Courtesy of House Divided Project – “Negro Soldiers Liberating Slaves,” Harper’s Weekly, January 23, 1864, p. 54: 1.)

Posted Friday, April 2nd, 2010 at 12:44 pm.

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Railway Cars in Philadelphia

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Pennsylvania Civil War Newspapers offers a great collection of historic newspapers published in cities across the state. This editorial from the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin highlights that while those in the USCT were in the US Army, they did not enjoy the same rights and privileges as white soldiers. After a USCT surgeon was “ejected…[from a railway car] while on important public business” in Washington DC, the Evening Bulletin criticized the incident and explained how similar conditions existed in Philadelphia. “In New England all classes ride in the cars just as they mingle together in the same streets,” but in Philadelphia “the front platform of the car is the only place” where African Americans could ride. As a result, “men who have donned the uniform of the country and rallied to the defense of the old flag…[were] exposed to the wet and cold while half-drunken white men..loll upon the cushions inside.” While the Evening Bulletin proposed several solutions, those ideas included the introduction of segregated railcars rather than allow travelers to sit anywhere they wanted. You can read the full editorial here.

(Courtesy of Pennsylvania Civil War Newspapers – “Colored Persons in Railway Cars,” Philadelphia (PA) Evening Bulletin, February 14, 1864, p. 4: 2-3. )

Posted Wednesday, March 24th, 2010 at 11:24 pm.

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USCT Image Gallery 1

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Watch a short slideshow or take a look at these USCT related images.
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(Courtesy of the Library of Congress & the US Army Heritage and Education Center)

Posted Wednesday, March 24th, 2010 at 9:45 pm.

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“Flag Raising at Camp William Penn”

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This report appeared in the Boston Liberator in August 1863 and described the ceremony for the 3rd USCT regiment that took place at Camp William Penn. Even though this regiment was organized in “a comparatively short time,” the reporter believed that the men “[had] evinced a degree of enthusiasm and discipline that would do credit to older troops.” After a regiment drill “in which every evolution…was characterized by military correctness,” several speakers addressed the crowd. One noted that while “your enemies have said you would not fight,” the USCT “[has] already shown how base was that charge.” Another observed that in “this…war for freedom,” the 3rd USCT regiment “[would be] among the grandest of its soldiers.” You can read the entire article here.

(Courtesy of House Divided Project – “Flag Raising at Camp William Penn,” Boston (MA) Liberator, August 14, 1863, p. 129: 5-6.)

Posted Wednesday, March 24th, 2010 at 9:27 pm.

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Images of Camp William Penn

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This short slideshow includes two images of Camp William Penn.
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Posted Wednesday, March 24th, 2010 at 6:44 pm.

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Burning the Wrightsville Bridge

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After invading Pennsylvania and capturing York, Confederates planned to take Harrisburg and possibly Philadelphia. To get there they had to cross the Susquehanna River at Wrightsville. Pennsylvania militiamen from Columbia, on the Lancaster County side of the river, vowed to block the Confederate advance. Union troops retreating from York joined them, as did a company of African American militiamen. They mustered fewer than 1,500 men.

North Front Street, Commons Park, In Grass
YORK, PA, 17368

(Courtesy of Pennsylvania Civil War Trails)

Posted Monday, March 22nd, 2010 at 5:13 am.

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