United States Colored Troops in the Civil War
|United States |
Civil War, 1861-1865
Introduction[edit | edit source]
The United States Army began to organize African Americans into regimental units known as the United States Colored Troops (USCT) in 1863. (War Department General Order 143) The enlistment of free blacks and slaves was considered a key to winning the war. Many USCT regiments originated as state militia units before 1863. The regiments included cavalry, artillery and infantry.
- Christopher A. Nordmann. Tracing African Americans during the Civil War. NGS News Magazine 31 #3 (July-August 2005): 19-23.
Approximately 186,000 African Americans served in the United States Colored Troops volunteer cavalry, artillery, and infantry units during the Civil War.
The service records of the United States Colored Troops are indexed on M589 roll 49 FHL Film: 1276501(96 rolls FHL # 1266617) The service records are available from the National Archives.
For charts listing microfilmed military records available through the National Archive and Family History Library film numbers: click here.
Colored Troops Division - Selected List
- War Department. The Adjutant General's Office. Colored Troops Division. 5.11.1863-1888 Administrative History Note
- Record Group 94 Records of the Adjutant General's Office
- Letters Received, 1863-1894 Search within this Series
- Indexes to Letters Received, 1863 - 1888
- Registers of Letters Received, 6/1/1863 - 2/21/1888
- Letters Sent Relating to Recruiting, 1864 - 1868
- Indexes to Letters Sent Relating to Recruiting, 1864 - 1868
- Letters Received Relating to Recruiting, 1863 - 1868
- Index to Letters Received Relating to Recruiting, 1863 - 1866
- Register of Letters Received Relating to Recruiting, 1863 - 1867
- Descriptive Lists of Colored Volunteers, 1864 - 1864 Search within this Series
- Register of Colored Troops, 1869 - 1869
- Record of Colored Enlistments, 12/1869 - 6/1887
- Record of Regiments, 1863 - 1865
- Register of Vouchers and Disbursements, 1863 - 1864
- Register of Colored Troops Enlisted for Service and Bounty Paid,8/1864 - 2/1865
- Register of Colored Men Enlisted in U.S. Service by the Commissioner of the Organization of Colored Troops in the States of Alabama, Tennessee, and Kentucky, 1863 - 1864
- Register of Discharge Certificates of Enlisted Men, 1866 - 1867
- Records of the Distribution of Enlistments by Congressional District in the State of Massachusetts, 1864 - 1865
- Record Group 110 Records of the Provost Marshal General's Bureau
- Rolls of Enlisted Colored Troops, 1864 - 1864. Kentucky. 3rd District
- Lists of Colored Recruits Enlisted. Missouri. 6th District 3.3.1863-8.20.1865
- Muster Roll for the 1st Regiment, United States Colored Cavalry
- Muster Roll for the 4th/5th Regiment, United States Colored Heavy Artillery, and an Attached Letter
- Muster Roll for the 8th Regiment, United States Colored Troops
- Muster Roll for the 23rd Regiment, United States Colored Troops
- Muster Roll for the 49th Regiment, United States Colored Infantry
- Record Group 393 Records of U.S. Army Continental Commands
- Register of Discharges of Colored Troops on Certificates of Disability, 1863 - 1866
In searching military or other records for an ancestors name that served with a United States Colored Troop (USCT) abbreviations or marks may be found within the record or following the name that may give clues about their military service.
Some of the abbreviations or marks may include.
- A.D. = African Descent
- C.d'A. Corps d'Afrique
- col.,cold., col. = Colored
- POC = Person of Color
- USCA Lt + U. S. Colored Artillery (Light)
- USCA Hvy = U.S. Colored Artillery (Heavy)
- USCC = U.C. Colored Cavalry
- USCHA = U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery
- USCI = U.S. Colored Infantry
- USCLtA = U.S. Colored Light Artillery
- USCT = U.S. Colored Troops
Civil War and Military Terminology[edit | edit source]
- Enlistment: date joining a state Regiment
- Muster: date Regiment accepted in to Federal Service
- Discharge: date the soldier left the service but the Regiment was still active
- Muster Out: date Regiment released from active service
- Company: about 100 men Usually commanded by a Major or Captain
- Leadership: 1 Captain, 1 First Lieutenant, 1 Second Lieutenant, 1 First Sergeant, 4 Sergeants, 8 Corporals, 2 Musicians, 1 Wagoner, and 64 Privates - minimum; 83 Privates - maximum 
- Regiment: about 10 Companies (1,000 men ) Usually commanded by a Major or Captain
- Leadership: 1 Colonel, 1 Lieutenant Colonel, 1 Major, 1 Adjutant (Lt), 1 Quartermaster (Lt) 1 Surgeon, 2 Assistant Surgeons, 1 Chaplin, 1 Sergeant Major, 1 Quartermaster Sergt., 1 Commissary Sergt., 1 Hospital Stewart, and 1 Principal Musician 
- Brigade: two or more Regiments (2,000 men or more) Usually commanded by a Lieutenant Colonel
- Division: two or more Brigades (4,000 men or more)
- Corps: two or more Divisions (8,000 men or more)
- Army: two or more Corps. Usually commanded by a General
- Army of the Cumberland, Army of Georgia, Army of the Gulf, Army of the James, Army of the Mississippi, Army of the Ohio, Army of the Potomac, Army of the Shenandoah, Army of the Tennessee, and Army of Virginia
United States Colored Troops Military Units[edit | edit source]
Most units were numbered, however, some were named. See the table below for lists of the regiments, battalions, batteries, and unassigned companies.
The information in the lists of United States Colored Troops comes from the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors web site. This web site is searchable by soldier's name.
Regiments of United States Colored Troops[edit | edit source]
A chronology chart of dates of formation, location, regiment and state is found at the following site by Bennie J. McRae, Jr., Civil War Battles, United States Colored Troops.
Artillery, Cavalry, Infantry regimental histories and roster United States Colored Troops
These Regiment numbers are missing - failed to organize
- 129th Regiment, United States Colored Infantry
- 130th Regiment, United States Colored Infantry
- 131st Regiment, United States Colored Infantry
- 132nd Regiment, United States Colored Infantry
- 133rd Regiment, United States Colored Infantry
- 134th Regiment, United States Colored Infantry
Background of the USCT's gives history of the formation of the U.S.C.T. and their actions in many battles.
USCT Units serving on the Mississippi River, 1865 this site list regiments, their commanding officers and where the regiment was stationed.
Compiled Records Showing Service of Military Units in Volunteer Union Organizations. National Archives MIcrofim Publication M594. 225 rolls. Note: Rolls 204-217 United States Colored Troops FHL film 1488656 - 1488669
Training Camps[edit | edit source]
- Camp William Penn, Pennsylvania
- Rolls of Colored Volunteers Sent to Camp William Penn, 1864. NAID 16988366
- Descriptive Book of U.S. Colored and Their Officers, 7.22.1863-5.8.1865. NAID 4707535
- Registers of U.S. Colored Troops and Officers, 1863-1864. NAID 4707431
- Camp Nelson, Kentucky. 1863-1866
- Records of Death and Interment at Camp Nelson, Kentucky - 1864 - 1865 - National Archives Catalog
- Records of Death and Interment at Camp Nelson, KY, 1864 - 1865 NAID 279423
- Richard D. Sears. Camp Nelson, Kentucky : a Civil War historyLexington, Kentucky : University Press of Kentucky, 2002 FHL 976.9483/C1 F2s
Contraband Camps[edit | edit source]
Contraband Camps many men enlisted from these camps when recruitment of Colored troops began in1863. Some of the men were escaped slaves. There were contraband camps in the following states: Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and the District of Colombia.
The web site Last Road to Freedom has information on America's Civil War contraband Camps.
See Wikipedia: Contraband (American Civil War)
- Amy Murrell Taylor. Embattled Freedom. Journeys through the Civil War's Slave Refugee Camps. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2018.
- Chandra Manning. Troubled Refuge. Struggling for Freedom in the Civil War. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2016.
- Annette W. Curtis, selected, transcribed & indexed. "Contrabands" slaves and freedman: found in the Union Provost Marshal's file of papers relating to two or more civilians (M 416).[S.l. : Midwest Afro-American Genealogical Interest Coalition, 2008.]
Service Records[edit | edit source]
The compiled service records consist of an envelope containing card abstracts taken from muster rolls, returns, pay vouchers, and other records. Service records may provide rank, unit, date of enlistment, length of service, age, place of birth, and date of death.
- U.S. Colored Troops Military Service Records, 1861-1865 ($) (Ancestry.com). This database contains compiled military service records for United States colored troops that volunteered to serve with the Union army in the American Civil War.
- The Compiled Service Records ($) (Fold3.com) of volunteer Union soldiers who served with the United States colored troops are available online. In the future, these records will be made available at no charge through the National Archives web site. The service records are also available to access at no charge at National Archives research rooms.
Related Family History Library Holdings - NARA Microfilm Publications
- M1817, 1st through 5th United States Colored Cavalry, 5th Massachusetts Cavalry (Colored), 6th United States Colored Cavalry
- 1st United States Colored Infantry; 1st South Carolina Volunteers (Colored), Company A, 1st United States Colored Infantry
- M1820, Infantry Organizations 2nd through 7th including Tennessee and Louisiana
- M1821, Infantry organizations 8th through 13th including the 11th (new)
- M1822, Infantry organizations, 14th through 19th
- M1823, Infantry organizations, 20th through 25th
- M1824, Infantry Organizations 26th through 30th including 29th Connecticut
- M1992, Infantry organizations, 31st through 35th
- M1993, Infantry organizations, 36th through 40th
- M1994, Infantry Organizations, 41st through 46th
- M2000, Infantry Organization, 47th through 55th.
- M1898, 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment (Colored)
- M1801, 55th Massachusetts Infantry (Colored)
- M1894, Descriptive recruitment lists of volunteers for the United States Colored Troops for the State of Missouri,1863-1865
Related FamilySearch Historical Record Collections
- United States Civil war Service Records of Union Colored Troops, 1863-1865. FamilySearch.org
- United States, Compiled Military Service Records Of Volunteer Union Soldiers Who Served With The U.S. Colored Troops, 1861-1866
- United States, Missouri, Recruitment Lists of Volunteers for the United States Colored Troops, 1863-1865
- Freedmen's Bureau Claim Records
For more information see Union Service Records.
Pension Records FamilySearch Historical Record Collections[edit | edit source]
- United States General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934
- United States Civil War Widows and Other Dependents Pension Files, 1861-1934
- United States Veterans Administration Pension Payment Cards, 1907-1933
National Archives catalog
- Approved Pension File for Corporal Madison Veal, Company H, U.S. Colored Troops Infantry Regiment (C-2533015)
United States Colored Troops Prisoners of War[edit | edit source]
Confederate prisons were located in Andersonville, Georgia; Salisbury, North Carolina; Danville, North Carolina and Libby.
The U.S. Colored Troops at Andersonville Prison. by Bob O'Connor. Infinity Publishing, West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania. 2010. FHL Book: 975.8913/A2 M2o (title # 1861140)
Slave Claims Commission[edit | edit source]
- Michael Hait. Records of the Slave Claims Commission. 2 vols. [S.l.: Hait Family Research Services, 2010. v.1 Delaware Commission. 2 v. Kentucky Commission.
- United States District Court. Kansas. Slave compensation records, 1866-1867
National Archives Catalog
- Records of Slave Claims Commissions, 1867. NAID 608295
- Maryland Slave Claims Commission Correspondence, 1864-1865. NAID 6267233
- Vouchers for Disbursements to Members of Slave Claims Commissions, 1864-1866. NAID 608296
- Registers of Claims for the U.S. Colored Troops, 1864-1867. NAID 608297
- Slave Compensation Files, 1866-1867 - National Archives Catalog. NAID 6037029 Claims come from Missouri
- Register of U.S. Colored Troop Deaths During the Civil War, 1861 - 1865
1890 Census Veteran Schedules[edit | edit source]
1890 Census Veterans Schedules - The 'Special Schedules of the Eleventh Census (1890) Enumerating Union Veterans and Widows of Union Veterans of the Civil War" (NARA M123) are available Union Census Records
United States Colored Troops Cemeteries[edit | edit source]
- Register of U.S. Colored Troop Deaths During the Civil War 1861-1865. NARA NAID 1226169 Digital Images
- Records of Death and Interment at Camp Nelson, Kentucky - 1864 - 1865 - National Archives Catalog Digital Images
- Center for Civil War Research, U. S. Colored Troops Burials, has a list of USCT cemeteries and burial plots across the United States. The page is a work in progress. They would like information about any additional burial places.
- Resting Places of United States Colored Civil War Soldiers, Sailors and White Officers; Lest We Forget. Searchable by 32 states.
- USCT buried in the cemeteries and graveyards of Bedford County, Pennsylvania. The list includes names, companies, regiments, and grave locations if known.
Civil War Sesquicentennial - 150th Anniversary[edit | edit source]
This site shares news, events and websites for several states about the upcoming commemorations.
Paul Laurence Dunbar was the son of former slaves. His father, Joshua Dunbar, served in the 55th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment and the 5th Massachusetts Colored Cavalry Regiment. Paul wrote a poem about the colored soldiers’ roll in the Civil War. His poem, “The Colored Soldiers” can be found at the site Poemhunter.com. (Accessed on 6 Sept. 2011.)
- Black Soldiers in the Civil War. Preserving the Legacy of the United States Colored Troops - National Archives
- The USCT Chronicle Blogspot
- US Colored Troops Institute for Local History and Family Research Hartwick College, Oneonta, New York
- U.S. Colored Troops formed in North Carolina
- Mapping the Freedmen's Bureau: U.S.C.T. Battle Sites
- Missouri State Archives U.S.C.T. troops for the state of Missouri
- Transcribing records of the United States Colored Troops
Additional References[edit | edit source]
- Berlin, Ira.Freedom's Soldiers: The Black Military Experience in the Civil War, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998. FHL 973 M2bL
- William A Dobak.Freedom by the Sword: The U.S. Colored Troops, 1862-1867. Washington,D.C.: Center of Military History. United States Army, 2011
- Cornish, Dudley Taylor. The Sable Arm: Black Troops in the Union Army, 1861-1865. Lawrence,Kansas: University of Kansas Press, 1987. FHL 973 M2cor
- Dollarhide, William. Genealogical Resources of the Civil War Era: Online and published Military or Civilian Names Lists, 1861-1869. and Post-War Veterans Lists. Bountiful, Utah: Family Roots publishing Co., 2009. FHL Collection WorldCat
- Fleming, Ann Carter,and Ruth Ann Abels Hager. "Slaves, Soldiers, and Citizens: Special Civil War Recruitment Lists,: National Genealogical Society Quarterly vol. 91 (June 2003):139-143.
- Gladstone, William A. United States Colored Troops, 1863-1867. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania: Thomas publications, 1990: [Appendix I lists which states furnished men to each U.S. Colored Troop Regiment.]
- Glatthaar, Joseph T. Forged in Battle: the Civil War Alliance of Black Soldiers and White Officers. New Yourk: FreePress, 1990. WorldCat
- Hager, Ruth Ann (Ables) and Ann Carter Fleming. Slaves, Soldiers, and Citizens: Special Civil War Recruitment Lists, National Genealogical Society Quarterly 91 (June 2003)
- Hait, Michael. Records of the Slave Claims Commission. v. 1. Register of claims of the Delaware Commission -- v. 2. Register of claims of the Kentucky Commission. S.l. : Hait Family Research Services, c2010. FHL 973 M2hmi
- Hansen, Joyce. Between Two Fires: Black Soldiers in the Civil War. New York: F. Watts, 1993.
- Hargrove, Hondon B. Black Union Soldiers in the Civil War. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland 1988.FHL 973 H2har
- Hewett, Janet B., editor. Roster of Union Soldiers, 1861-1865; United States Colored Troops M589-1-M589-49. Wilimington, North Carolina: Broadfoot publishing CO., 1997. FHL Book: 973 M29h
- Hewett, Janet B. Supplement to the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Part II, Record of Events. Wilmington, N.C.: Broadfoot Publishing, 1998.
- WorldCat FHL book 973 M29u
- Hollandsworth, James G Jr. The Louisiana Native Guards : the black military experience during the Civil War.Baton Rouge, Louisiana : Louisiana State University Press, c1995. FHL 976.3 M2hj
- McConnell, Roland C. The Corps d' Afrique: A Chapter in the Development of the Black Soldier in the U.S. Military Establishment. Journal of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society. 12 # 1 & 2 (Spring and Summer 1991): 43-56.
- McPherson, James M. The Negro's Civil War: How American Blacks Felt and Acted During the War for the Union, New York: Vintage 2003.
- McPherson, James M.The Atlas of the Civil War. Sevenoaks, United Kingdom: Pepperbox Press, 2010 FHL Collection WorldCat
- McRae, Bennie J. Jr. U.S. Colored Troops Archives, available at Hampton University, KWl Marketing 560 West 43rd St. NY, NY. 1036 #41A firstname.lastname@example.org
- Moebs, Thomas Truxtun. Black Soldiers Black Sailors Black Ink: Research Guide on African-American in U.S. Military History, 1526-1900. FHL book 973 M2mt
- Pendell, Lucille H. and Benthel, Elizabeth. Preliminary Inventory of the Records of the Adjutant General's Office: Records Group 94, No. 17, Washington, DC: Westminster, Maryland: Heritage Books, 2007.
- Quarles, Benjamin. The Negro in the Civil War, Cambridge, MA: Da Capo, 1989. FHL 973 M2q
- Ross, Joseph B., Comp. Tabular Analysis of the Records of the U.S. Colored Troops and Their Predecessor Units in the National Archives of the United States. Special List No. 33. National Archives and records Service General Services Administration Washington: 1973. FHL Book 973 M2rt Film:1036062 Item 21
- Secret, Jeanette Braxton. Guide to Tracing Your African American Civil War Ancestor. Bowie Maryland: Heritage Books, 1995. [This is a reference book that includes Special Lists 33. Tabular Analysis of the Records of the U.S. Colored Troops...a National Archives publication - no longer in print].
- Shaffer, Donald R. After the Glory: The Struggles of Black Civil War Veterans, Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 2004.
- Schaffer, Donald R. 'I Do Not Suppose that Uncle Sam Looks at the Skin': African Americans and the Civil War Pension System, 1865-1934.Civil War History 46 (June 2000): 132-142
- Smith, John David, editor. Black Soldiers in Blue: African American Troops in the Civil War Era. Chapel Hill, North Carolina, University of North Carolina Press, 2002.
- Trudeau, Noah Andre. Like Men of War: Black Troops in the Civil War, 1862-1865, Boston, Massachusetts: Little Brown and Co, 1998.
- Wagner, Margaret E.The Library of Congress Illustrated Timeline of the Civil War. New York, NY: Little, Brown and CO., Hachette Book Group, 2011.
- Wagner, Margaret E. Gary W. Gallagher and Paul Finkelman.T'he Library of Congress Civil War Desk Reference.. New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc., 2002
References[edit | edit source]
- Hargrove, Hondon B. Black Union Soldiers in the Civil War. Jefferson, NC:McFarland and Co., Inc. c1988
- Hargrove, Hondon B. Black Union Soldiers in the Civil War. Jefferson, NC:McFarland and Co., Inc. c1988