Yesterday (June 2) saw the dedication of a new state marker in Wilmington, N.C. honoring U.S. Colored Troops. From the Associated Press news story:
WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) — An N.C. Highway Historical Marker is being dedicated to mark the participation of U.S. Colored Troops in the Civil War battle to capture Fort Fisher in January and February of 1865.
The marker will be dedicated Thursday morning at the National Cemetery in Wilmington, which is the largest USCT burial ground in North Carolina. The cemetery records show 88 black members of the USCT and four white officers are buried there.
Fort Fisher remained open to blockade runners supplying necessary goods to Confederate armies until the last few months of the war. The Civil War ended in April, a few months after the fort fell.
The marker, number D 111 in the state Archives and Highway Departments series, reads:
United States Colored Troops
Black soldiers & white officers in Union army, 1863-1865. About 500 involved in Wilmington campaign buried here.
Simple, and lacking perhaps in the details, this is very much typical of the style for markers in that series. The markers in the series are not verbose, as a general rule. Designed to catch the eye of passing motorists, and not unlike the style employed early with the Virginia marker system. Perhaps an outdated technique, though.
One of the local news stations covered the dedication with interviews of Fred Johnson, reenactor who lead the marking efforts, and Sonya Bennetone, great-great-granddaughter of a USCT soldier (video here). Their comments make the short spot worth a click.
I was struck by the fact Fred Johnson was a Korean War veteran. You may recall the Korean War was the first action fought by the US Army after desegregation. Hearing him speak, I thought about the events between those US Colored Troops who lay buried in the cemetery and Mr. Johnson’s service in the 1950s.
At any rate, hopefully this is one of many USCT related markers we will see placed and dedicated during the sesquicentennial. As Jimmy Price and
Angela Y. Walton-Raji demonstrate with their posts, there are many important stories about the USCT. And all too often stories overlooked by the rush to discuss the famous personalities and big battles. A few more historical markers for the USCT would be a good thing, in my opinion.