Since it is African-American history month, let me highlight a special set of markers in the Historical Marker Database – those discussing United States Colored Troops in the Civil War (USCT). Just under 100 in our system today. These markers discuss actions in which the USCT participated, recruitment of the USCT, garrison activities, and many post war stories. The entries range from Massachusetts to Arizona; from Michigan to the very southern point of Texas.
Of those I’ve entered, my favorite is a marker for the 4th US Colored Heavy Artillery at Columbus, Kentucky. The 4th didn’t see action in any major campaigns, but their story seems to touch many threads of the African-American experience in the Civil War. Composed mostly of escaped slaves, and recruited in Federal occupied Kentucky and Tennessee, the 4th served on garrison duties through much of the war. At many of those garrisons, the 4th co-located with “contraband” camps, such as at Island No. 10. Their service included many brushes with Confederate raiders, N.B. Forrest in particular. After the war and released from Army service, many settled in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Missouri where they had garrisoned in the war.
From a technical standpoint, to “group” the USCT markers in HMDB we use a special key-word tag of “USCT” backed up with “United States Colored Troops.” One of our frequent contributors, Richard Miller, plays an important, un-official (and consequently all too “thankless”) role checking entries for inclusion.
And since we are on the subject of the USCTs, let me again mention a couple of blogs on that subject. Jimmy Price’s The Sable Arm should not be new to readers. Jimmy noted his one year blogging anniversary the other day. Keep it up!
A new addition to my blog role is the work of Angela Walton-Raji named The USCT Chronicle. In just a couple of months Angela has presented some impressive posts outlining the story of USCT troops. Good work, and good reads!