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Pennsylvania Grand Review

Honoring African American Patriots 1865 / 2010

100 Voices

USCT picket, November 1864

100 Voices is one of the projects associated with the Pennsylvania Grand Review. The Pennsylvania Tourism Office selected 100 African Americans who fought in the United States Colored Troops during the Civil War. Many of these veterans were either born or buried in Pennsylvania. Each person in this list has a record on House Divided – click on that person’s name to see it.

3rd USCT

These men served in the 3rd United States Colored Troops Regiment -

The 3rd USCT Regiment, which was organized in August 1863, was the first unit to receive training at Camp William Penn, located outside of Philadelphia. (You can read about this regiment’s flag raising ceremony in a previous post). The War Department initially sent this regiment to South Carolina, where it was involved in the campaign to seize Fort Wagner. Read more about this regiment here.

6th USCT

These men served in the 6th United States Colored Troops Regiment -

The 6th USCT Regiment was composed mainly of Pennsylvania men, and was organized at Camp William Penn between July and September 1863. In October, the regiment was assigned to the Army of the James and stationed near Yorktown, Pennsylvania. The regiment was also part of a plan to release Union prisoners from Belle Isle near Richmond, Virginia. After a grueling march in early February 1864, the Union forces arrived to find the Confederate forces prepared to meet them, and the battle was lost. Read more about this regiment here.

8th USCT

These men served in the 8th United States Colored Troops Regiment -

The recruiting for the 8th USCT Regiment began in September 1863 at Camp William Penn, and the regiment was deployed to Florida on its first assignment in February 1864. After a time of looting supply lines and taking prisoners, the regiment finally encountered resistance at the Battle of Olustee. This battle incurred some of the heaviest losses (percentage-wise) of the Civil War, and the 8th USCT played an integral part. Read more about this regiment here.

22nd USCT

These men served in the 22nd United States Colored Troops Regiment -

The 22nd USCT Regiment was organized in January 1864 at Camp William Penn in Pennsylvania. The regiment joined the Army of the James, Eighteenth Corps near the end of that month, and was assigned to construct earthworks along the James River for protecting supply lines. In June, the Eighteenth Corps participated in the siege of Petersburg, for which the 22nd USCT regiment received great acclaim. Read more about this regiment here.

24th USCT

These men served in the 24th United States Colored Troops Regiment -

The 24th USCT Regiment was organized at Camp William Penn on February 17, 1865. In May, it was stationed at Camp Casey in Virginia outside of Washington, DC; then in June it was moved to Maryland to guard Confederate prisoners. The regiment’s final assignment was preserving order and distributing supplies in and around Roanoke, Virginia between July and September 1865. Read more about this regiment here.

25th USCT

These men served in the 25th United States Colored Troops Regiment -

After being organized in January 1864, the 25th USCT Regiment was deployed to Texas, although it never reached its intended destination. The steamer that carried the regiment was caught in a storm and sprung a leak, and the men barely kept her afloat long enough to dock safely in the North Carolina harbor. The regiment arrived in New Orleans in May 1864 just as the Confederates were gaining the upper hand in the Red River Campaign. Read more about this regiment here.

27th USCT

  • Samuel Gardner served in the 27th United States Colored Troops Regiment.

32nd USCT

These men served in the 32nd United States Colored Troops Regiment -

The 32nd USCT Regiment was organized in March 1864 at Camp William Penn outside Philadelphia. After training was completed, the regiment was sent to South Carolina in late April 1864. These men participated in a number of engagements while assigned to the Department of the South. Read more about this regiment here.

37th USCT

41st USCT

These men served in the 41st United States Colored Troops Regiment -

The 41st USCT Regiment was organized at Camp William Penn in the fall of 1864. This regiment participated in several engagements in Virginia. Read more about this regiment here.

43rd USCT

These men served in the 43rd United States Colored Troops Regiment -

After being assembled at Camp William Penn, the 43rd USCT Regiment, composed mainly of Pennsylvania recruits, was assigned in April 1864 to the Ninth Corps of the Army of the Potomac. Continuing on through Washington, where the African-American regiment “attracted special attention,” the regiment became involved in the Wilderness Campaign in rural Virginia. Read more about this regiment here.

45th USCT

These men served in the 45th United States Colored Troops Regiment -

After being assembled at Camp William Penn in the summer of 1864, the 45th USCT Regiment was sent to Washington, DC, where it had the distinct honor of being the only African-American regiment in the procession for the second inauguration of President Lincoln. In September 1864, the regiment was moved to Petersburg, Virginia, where it participated in the Siege of Petersburg. Read more about this regiment here

127th USCT

These men served in the 127th United States Colored Troops Regiment -

The 127th USCT Regiment was organized in September 1864 and received training at Camp William Penn. Records indicate that this regiment only participated in a single battle. Read more about this regiment here.

5th Mass. Cav.

These men served in the 5th Massachusetts Colored Volunteer Cavalry -

54th Massachusetts

These men served in the 54th Massachusetts -

Read more about this regiment here.

55th Massachusetts

These men served in the 55th Massachusetts -

Other

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Alexander Kelly and the Battle of Chaffin’s Farm

Alexander Kelly was an African-American Civil War soldier who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.  He was born on April 7, 1840 in Saltsburg, Pennsylvania and worked as a coal miner prior to his involvement in the war. On August 19, 1863 in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania he enlisted in Company F of the 6th United States Colored Troops Regiment as a substitute for someone named Joseph Kelly. He was originally trained at Camp William Penn in Chelten Hills, Pennsylvania. Although Kelly was small in stature, standing at only about 5 feet 3 inches tall, he was commended for his actions at Chaffin’s Farm in Henrico County, Virginia on September 29-30, 1864. The National Park Service’s website includes a brief summary on the battle at Chaffin’s Farm (also known as New Market Heights) that includes how Union Major General Benjamin Butler attacked General Robert E. Lee and the Confederate forces at Richmond. A more detailed description of the battle at Chaffin’s Farm is provided in “Pennsylvania Negro Regiments in the Civil War .” Kelly was awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor on April 6, 1865 for his bravery and leadership at Chaffin’s Farm. General Benjamin Butler noted in an order issued on October 11, 1864:

“Alexander Kelly, first sergeant Company F, Sixth U.S. Colored Troops, 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 great danger.”

Another resource that may be interesting to browse is Black Union Soldier’s in the Civil War which has a valuable list detailing all the Black Union Recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor. Kelly was “mustered out” of service in Wilmington, North Carolina in 1865. After the war, Kelly married his wife Victoria on July 30, 1866, and the two had a son named William in January 1867. He served as a night watchman for the Pittsburgh Police before his death on June 19, 1907. Kelly is buried in St. Peters Cemetery in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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William H. Carney at Fort Wagner

On May 31, 1897, the city of Boston erected a monument created by the American sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens in honor of the 54th Massachusetts and its colonel, Robert Gould Shaw. The monument commemorates the regiment’s participation in the second attack on Fort Wagner, South Carolina on July 18, 1863. The August 8 edition of Harper’s Weekly, available in a transcribed form at Assumption College’s primary source-rich database “Northern Vision of Race, Religion & Reform” recorded that at Fort Wagner: “The 54th Massachusetts (negro), whom Copperhead officers would have called cowardly if they had stormed and carried the gates of hell, went boldly into battle, for the second time, commanded by their brave Colonel, but came out of it led by no higher officer than the boy, Lieutenant Higginson.” Sergeant James Henry Gooding of Company C of the 54th wrote weekly letters to the New Bedford Mercury, a periodical in the company’s hometown. Gooding’s letters were published as On the Altar of Freedom: A Black Soldier’s Civil War Letters from the Front, and some are available on Google Books. Gooding’s July 20 letter documents the 54th’s attack of Fort Wagner: “When the men saw their gallant leader [Colonel Shaw] fall, they made a desperate effort to get him out, but they were either shot down, or reeled in the ditch below. One man succeeded in getting hold of the State color staff.” The “one man” who reached the flag was Sergeant William H. Carney, originally of Norfolk, Virginia, as he maintained the sanctity of the flag by keeping it from touching the ground. Though Carney was wounded in both of his legs, one arm, and his chest he kept the flag aloft and is recorded as exclaiming, “the old flag never touched the ground, boys!” During the 1897 monument dedication Carney raised the flag once more, an action that Booker T. Washington recorded in his autobiography, Up from Slavery (1901), as causing such an effect on the crowd that “for a number of minutes the audience seemed to entirely lose control of itself.” Three years later, Carney received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions at Fort Wagner. Though Carney is often listed as the first African-American recipient of the Medal of Honor, instead, Carney’s rescue of the colors at Fort Wagner was the earliest African-American act of bravery to be recognized with a Medal of Honor.  The medal notation reads: “Medal of Honor awarded May 9, 1900, for most dinstinguished gallantry in action at Fort Wagner, South Carolina, July 18, 1863.”

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