The United States Colored Troops (USCT) were regiments of the United States Army during the American Civil War that were composed of African-American soldiers. The men of the USCT were the forerunners of the famous Buffalo Soldiers.
The U.S. Congress passed a confiscation act in July 1862 that freed slaves of owners in rebellion against the United States, and a militia act that empowered the President to use freed slaves in any capacity in the army. President Abraham Lincoln, however, was concerned with public opinion in the four border states that remained in the Union, as well as with northern Democrats who supported the war. Lincoln opposed early efforts to recruit black soldiers, even though he accepted their use as laborers. Union Army setbacks in battles over the summer of 1862 forced Lincoln into the more drastic response of emancipating all slaves in states at war with the Union. In September 1862 Lincoln issued his preliminary proclamation that all slaves in rebellious states would be free as of January 1. Recruitment of colored regiments began in full force following the Emancipation Proclamation of January 1863.The United States War Department issued General Order Number 143 on May 22, 1863, establishing a "Bureau of Colored Troops" to facilitate the recruitment of African-American soldiers to fight for the Union Army Regiments, including infantry, cavalry, light artillery, and heavy artillery units, were recruited from all states of the Union and became known as the United States Colored Troops (USCT). Approximately 175 regiments of over 178,000 free blacks and freed slaves served during the last two years of the war, and bolstered the Union war effort at a critical time. By war's end, the USCT were approximately a tenth of all Union troops. There were 2,751 USCT combat casualties during the war, and 68,178 losses from all causes.
5th U.S. Colored Infantry
Photo # 890-Co E, 4th US Colored Troops, Fort Lincoln 11-17-1865.
USCT regiments were led by white officers and rank advancement was limited for black soldiers. The Supervisory Committee for Recruiting Colored Regiments in Philadelphia opened a Free Military Academy for Applicants for the Command of Colored Troops at the end of 1863. For a time, black soldiers received less pay than their white counterparts. Famous members of USCT regiments were Martin Robinson Delany, and the sons of Frederick Douglass. Soldiers who fought in the Army of the James were eligible for the Butler Medal, commissioned by that army's commander, Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler.
After the war many of the USCT veterans struggled for recognition and had difficulty obtaining the pensions due them. The Federal government did not address the inequality until 1890 and many of the veterans did not receive service and disability pensions until the early 1900s.
Source: From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
HISTORY: 5th U.S. Colored Infantry. Organized at Camp Delaware, Ohio, August to November, 1863. Moved to Norfolk, Va., November, 1863. Attached to United States Forces, Norfolk and Portsmouth, Va., Dept. of Virginia and North Carolina, to January, 1864. 2nd Brigade, United States Forces, Yorktown, Va., 18th Corps, Dept. of Virginia and North Carolina, to April, 1864. 2nd Brigade, Hincks' Colored Division, 18th Corps, Army of the James, Dept. of Virginia and North Carolina, to June, 1864. 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, 18th Corps, to December, 1864. 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 25th Corps, to December, 1864. 3rd Brigade, 3rd Division, 25th Corps, to March, 1865. 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, 10th Corps, Dept. of North Carolina, to August, 1865. Dept. of North Carolina to September, 1865.
SERVICE: Duty at Norfolk and Portsmouth, Va., till January, 1864. Wild's Expedition to South Mills and Camden Court House, N. C., December 5-24, 1863. Action at Sandy Swamp, N. C., December 8. Moved to Yorktown, Va., January, 1864, and duty there till May. Wistar'.s Expedition against Richmond February 6-8, 1864. Expedition to New Kent Court House in aid of Kilpatrick's Cavalry March 1-4. New Kent Court House March 2. Expedition into King and Queen County March 9-12. Expedition into Matthews and Middlesex Counties March 17-21. Butler's operations on south side of the James River and against Petersburg and Richmond May 4-June 15. Capture of City Point May 4. Fatigue duty at City Point and building Fort Converse on the Appomattox River till June 15, Attack on Fort Converse May 20. Before Petersburg June 15-18. Bailor's Farm June 15. Siege operations against Petersburg and Richmond June 16 to December 6. In trenches before Petersburg till August 27. Mine Explosion, Petersburg, July 30. Moved to Deep Bottom August 28. Battle of Chaffin's Farm, New Market Heights, September 28-30. Fort Harrison September 29. Battle of Fair Oaks October 27-28. In trenches before Richmond till December. 1st Expedition to Fort Fisher, N. C., December 7-27. 2nd Expedition to Fort Fisher, N. C., January 7-15. Assault and capture of Fort Fisher, N. C., January 15. Sugar Loaf Hill January 19. Federal Point February 11. Fort Anderson February 18-20. Capture of Wilmington February 22. Northeast Ferry February 22. Campaign of the Carolinas March 1-April 26. Advance on Kinston and Goldsboro March 6-21. Occupation of Goldsboro March 21. Cox's Bridge March 23-24. Advance on Raleigh April 9-14. Occupation of Raleigh April 14. Bennett's House April 26. Surrender of Johnston and his army. Duty at Goldsboro, New Berne and Carolina City, N. C., till September. Mustered out September 20, 1865. Regiment lost during service 4 Officers and 77 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 2 Officers and 166 Enlisted men by disease. Total 249.
Source: From Dyer's Compendium
HISTORY: The 127th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, later designated as the 5th U.S. Colored Infantry, was Ohio's outstanding contribution to the many Negro regiments in the Union Army. Prior to the organization of the 127th, a number of colored Ohioans had been recruited for the 54th Massachusetts Infantry, organized in Boston, but were lost in the credits to their state. Then in the summer of 1863, Captain Lewis McCoy of the 115th Ohio Volunteer Infantry was detailed by Governor Tod to direct the recruiting of Negroes in Ohio and a camp was established in Delaware. Progress at first was slow, but the nucleus of a regiment was finally formed. There was no law regulating the organization of colored troops and the War Department had issued no call to them for service. The only law which gave even a semblance of authority to such an organization was known as "The Contraband Law," which gave a colored laborer in the service of the United States ten dollars per month, including three dollars for clothing and seven dollars for pay. Nevertheless, Captain McCoy took the initiative and mustered J.B.T. Marsh into the army as quartermaster of the 127th. Finally the long awaited order calling colored men into the service and making the organization official came from the War Department. With the appointment of G.W. Shurtleff of Oberlin, formerly of the 7th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, as Lieutenant Colonel, the name was changed and recruiting was completed. Non-commissioned officers were appointed from the ranks and the regiment fully equipped, left Ohio for Virginia on November 18. Colonel J.W. Conine, appointed by President Lincoln, met the regiment at Norfolk to assume command.
"The Military History of Ohio" (1866) gives this account of the regiments history:
"In December, 1863, moved to North Carolina; in January, 1864, back to Virginia, camping near Yorktown; took gallant part in Butler's campaign on the James; stormed the heights of Petersburg, June 15, 1864, and took part in the subsequent siege; transferred again to the Army of the James; in 1865 served in North Carolina; discharged at Columbus, Ohio, Oct. 5, 1865." While on the James River the regiment received 375 recruits. In the fighting at Chafin's Farm in Virginia, September 29, 1864, the regiment lost 85 killed and 248 wounded, in addition to 9 officers wounded, of the 550 men in the ranks that day. Sergeants Beatty, Holland, Pimm, and Brunson were awarded medals, both by Congress and by General Benjamin F. Butler, for gallantry in action.
Source: from Ohio Handbook of the Civil War. By: Robert S. Harper. Ohio Historical Society 1961
|LAST NAME||FIRST NAME||HOME STATE||OCCUPATION||REGIMENT||CO.||RECRUITER||PLACE/ COUNTY|
|Hall||Charles W.||5th/USCT||E.||Capt. Barber||Athens Co.|
|Bell||William R.||5th/USCT||C.||unknown||Athens Co.|
|Busentine||Jordan W.||5th/USCT||C.||unknown||Athens Co.|
|Clay||Henry||5th/USCT||C.||Capt. Bond||Athens Co.|
|Clay Phillip||Phillip||5th/USCT||C.||unknown||Athens Co.|
|Cooper||James W.||5th/USCT||C.||unknown||Athens Co.|
|Coursey||Thomas E.||5th/USCT||C.||unknown||Athens Co.|
|Cross||Thomas W.||5th/USCT||C.||unknown||Athens Co.|
|Hale||Charles W.||5th/USCT||E.||Capt. Barber||Athens Co.|
|Harris||Thomas J.||5th/USCT||G.||unknown||Athens Co.|
|Houston||Joseph A.||5th/USCT||C.||unknown||Athens Co.|
|Jones||John W.||5th/USCT||C.||unknown||Athens Co.|
|Norman||Amos J.||5th/USCT||G.||unknown||Athens Co.|
|Ridgeway||John||5th/USCT||E.||Capt. Combs||Athens Co.|
|Shanks||William H.||5th/USCT||C.||unknown||Athens Co.|
|Spears||Joel S.||5th/USCT||C.||unknown||Athens Co.|
|Starkes||Charles G.||5th/USCT||C.||unknown||Athens Co.|
|Valentine||Salamanco||5th/USCT||A.||Capt. Bond||Athens Co.|
|Wells||Isaac L.||5th/USCT||C.||unknown||Athens Co.|
|Dixon||Nelson P.||Farmer||27th/USCT||Unass.||unknown||Athens Co.|
|Gormer||Wellington||N.C.||Brick Mason||27th/USCT||Unass.||Lt. F.L. Ballard||Athens Co.|
|Grimes||Charles||N.C.||Laborer||27th/USCT||G.||Lt. F.L. Ballard||Athens Co.|
|Hale||Charles W.||27th/USCT||E.||Capt. Barber||Athens Co.|
|Harper||William J.||27th/USCT||Unass.||unknown||Athens Co.|
|Holland||William M.||27th/USCT||Unass.||unknown||Athens Co.|
|Ridgeway||John||27th/USCT||E.||Capt. Combs||Athens Co.|
|Stevens||Isaac||Ohio||Farmer||27th/USCT||Unass.||Lt. R.A. Bull||Athens Co.|
|Tabler||John||Ohio||Farmer||27th/USCT||I.||J.F. Gewier||Athens Co.|
|Warren||Thomas L.||27th/USCT||Unass.||unknown||Athens Co.|
|LAST NAME||FIRST NAME||HOME STATE||OCCUPATION||REGIMENT||CO.||RECRUITER||PLACE/ COUNTY|
|Holly||Calvin||N.C.||Blacksmith||Unassigned||Unassigned||James Clement||Athens Co.|
|Woodson||John||V.A.||Farmer||Unassigned||Unassigned||James Clement||Athens Co.|
|Dickinson||Lewis||K.Y.||Miner||Unassigned||Unassigned||Lt. James Clement||Athens Co.|
|Woodson||William J.||V.A.||Farmer||Unassigned||Unassigned||Lt. James Clement||Athens Co.|
The above information is presented with the permission of the Washington Research History Class.