Skip to main content

tv   The Civil War U.S. Colored Troops  CSPAN  June 11, 2021 9:26am-10:24am EDT

9:26 am
dayton professors teach a class about 1970s american car culture and films of the era, using examples like easy rider, american graffiti and bad lands. these films reflected many american's disillusionment. they also talk about the impact of oil shortages, the rise of coast-to-coast races called cannonball runs and the popularity of trucker movies and music. watch american history tv tonight starts at 8:00 eastern and every weekend on c-span3. some 180,000 african-americans both free and formerly enslaved served in the united states colored troops during the civil war. next stuart henderson tells a story of these men. mr. henderson is a park ranger and historian at fredericksburg and spotsylvania national
9:27 am
military park as well as a living historian with two different colored troops regiments. this talk was hosted by the emerging civil war blog. >> welcome back to the emerging civil war virtual symposium. i'm chris mackowiski. thanks so much for joining us. it's my pleasure to introduce my good friend stuart henderson whom i have known forever and forever. we started working together 16 years ago and since that time, stuart has joined the staff as a historian. you can find him in summers giving guided tours on all of the areas for battlefields. but his real passion is telling the story of the united states colored troops. he's really made this a passion project. he helped cofound a group of re-enactors that tell the story of the 23rd united states colored troops. the group that first encounted robert e. lee's army here in the
9:28 am
summer of 1864 and done some work with -- massachusetts guys that folks who have heard of, who have done a little work in the movie glory. stuart is tireless in telling the story of the united states colored troops, men who found the inspiration to fight for their own freedom and in very literally sense, gave a new birth of freedom and new meaning to the civil war. it's my delight and pleasure to introduce my friend, stewart henderson. >> thank you, chris. good morning. chris makes everything seem like it was such a long time. but i will tell you, if you saw a picture of me then, i looked 30 years younger. i'm a living historian with the 23rd regiment united states
9:29 am
colored troops as well as company "b" of the 54th mass volunteers out of washington, d.c., and washington is my hometown. i have to be loyal to those guys. in this slide, you're going to see the combined group. just a small portion of both the 54th and the 23rd. 23rd started in 2011, but those guys in the 54th have been there since 1988. and some of the guys that i work with there were in the movie glory. this picture was taken at the grand opening in 2012 of the museum of the confederacy in appomattox which is now the american civil war center of appomattox. and this was -- we were the honor guard for general u.s. grant. we were just supposed to bring him in and introduce him, and next thing you know, he asks for us to stay for the surrender
9:30 am
ceremonies at the end of the day. but the 54th mentors the 23rd. many americans were not aware of the service of the u.s. colored troops and i guess it wasn't until 1989 when the movie glory came out. it was a story of the 54th. and then in 1990, ken burns came out with his series and that released more information of the united states colored troops. but they were part of a prom nant discussion in the years of the civil war and immediately after. but when the union and confederate white soldiers started to reckon sideline, they forgot about the colored troops. over the past ten years, i've been speaking about the u.s.
9:31 am
colored troops, trying to bring that story to the many audiences that i've talked with. but just two years ago, they had the 30th anniversary of the academy award-winning movie glory, and it was shown in theaters all across the country. i in solidarity with my members of the 54th massachusetts went to the afternoon showing. i was in fredericksburg, but they were in washington, d.c. and i was surprised. i thought the theater was going to be soldout. but there were only about 25 people there. and five of them, including me, because my wife and three of her members of the women of the civil war era were there. after the movie was over, i had two white guys come up to me because i had my cap pi on and my 54th massachusetts t-shirt and we spent five minutes talking about the 54th. i'm not surprised about the lack
9:32 am
of awareness. it just means that me and my fellow living historians, no matter how elderly we get, we still have to get out and talk about the united states color troops. i can remember marching in several parades. many of those times there were as many as ten different units, all of us had our own flags, some of us had two flags, but the crowds, everywhere we went, kept yelling, give them hell, 54th! so i know they must have seen the movie glory. but i think many people think that was the only black regiment in the entire civil war. they were authorized in 1863 by governor john andrew and they were going to be the first u.s. color troops raised in the old north. colonel robert gold shaw is going to be their commander. shaw's parents were very
9:33 am
influential in massachusetts and they were abolitionists, as was shaw and most of the officers. the soldiers were recruited by abolitionists, black abolitionists all across the country, including frederick douglass who is perhaps the greatest african-american in the 19th century. he sent two of his sons to the 54th and they trained at camp migs in massachusetts and they were mustered in the service. most of the men, the overwhelming majority of the men were educated men. and very few slaves were in that regiment. therefore, the movie was not a fair representation of the actual regiment. their most famous for spearheading the attack on ft. wagner in 1863, the 54th and some white units that were with them, took the outer walls of
9:34 am
the fort, but they could not takes the fort. colonel shaw and 271 of his men were casualties and shaw was famously buried with his black troops. however, the 54th, 55th massachusetts and some white units actually were victorious at the abandonment of ft. wagner after a long siege which ended on september 7th, 1863. the soldiers depicted in glory were more like the average unit, like the 23rd. they're going to be mostly a mixture of enslaved men, some freed men and some men who were already free. in the movie lincoln, one of the first scenes you'll see, it shows lincoln talking with two ustc soldiers.
9:35 am
one was an older gentleman. he was a former slave. and he talked about the battle of jenkins ferry in 1864. he talked about how they made sure that there were no confederates left alive. and that's because they were retaliating for the atrocities of the confederates when they murdered the prisoners taking their poison spring and marked mill. and few battles you do have usct retaliating for those atrocities and you'll have confederates doing the same thing. that's part of the civil war history that's rarely discussed. i can remember all threw school, they're telling me that the united states civil war was a civil war. you didn't have as much atrocities as you would see in other wars. since i've become a historian, i can tell you, that's not true. there's always a lot of violence and war.
9:36 am
the next black soldier that he talked to was a member of the massachusetts 5th cavalry. that man was very educated. and he was like most of the men in the 54th mass, the 55th mass cavalry. when the 54th was recruited, there was such an overflow of recruits that some of those men went into the 55th mass and the 5th mass cavalry. but i'm here today to talk about all of the united states color troops who were also known as the united states color troops, some will be united states colored infantry and you had other areas of the army. but at the beginning of the civil war, most men -- most black men were not allowed to join either army. and some people may ask, well,
9:37 am
why would they think about joining the confederate army. they thought if they fought for the confederacy, they would be free. you had a lot of men trying to get in both armies. but by the end of the war, you had some 180,000 to 200,000 blacks that served in the united states army and about another 20 to 29,000 blacks that served in the united states navy. now this slide is going to show the numbers of usct that are in the monument and memorial that they have at the african-american civil war memorial and museum in washington, d.c. and today, that is where all of the black re-enactor units are based out of. we can always call that our home. the numbers have been changing since historians have been looking at the 1860 and 1870
9:38 am
census. but all of the numbers on the wall that are etched in the memorial were researched at the national archives. and it shows that there were 209,145 members of the usct. 201,000 blacks, 7,000 white officers and 1,145 hispanics. now, the numbers may be skewed a little bit because some soldiers that were in usct units may have transferred to others and that's going to be a person like charles douglass. he was in the 5 5 4th mass originally and then he's going to transfer to the 5th massachusetts cavalry. but douglas inspired many of the soldiers in this famous recruiting speech and i quote, the opportunity is given us to
9:39 am
be men with one courageous resolution, we may blot out the handwriting of ages against us. once let the black man get upon his person the bras letters, u.s., let him get an eagle on his button and a musket on his shoulder and bullets in his pocket and there's no power under the earth which can deny that he has earned the right of citizenship in the united states. i say again, this is our chance and woe be tied us if we fail to embrace it. during the civil war, there were only four state regiments that will retain their state identification. all of the other state regiments will be changed to usct
9:40 am
regiments. but those four are probably pretty famous. and that's the 54th massachusetts infantry color, the 55th massachusetts infantry. the 5th massachusetts cavalry color and the 29th connecticut infantry color. they were all part of the usct but they maintained their state designations. the actually order creating the bureau of color troops was general order number 143 and was issued may 22nd, 1863. and by the end of the war, there were 166 regiments of infantry, cavalry, heavy artillery, engineers and light artillery. approximately 38,000 to 43,000 died in another 30,000 were injured. but most deaths were caused by disease. though many were executed on many of the battlefields where they fought.
9:41 am
this is a very famous painting. but this painting was actually used on recruiting posters for usct. they had words around it and various recruiting posters, but that picture was very famous. now, those soldiers were from camp william penn in philadelphia and they could be the third regiment, but we're not sure. but they were the third usct was the first to leave camp penn. frederick douglass gave them an inspirational speech before they left and i'll talk about that a little later. for example, some of the state units that changed was, for example, the first north
9:42 am
carolina color infantry. they became the 35th usct. they fought in approximately 450 battle actions and they were instrumental in helping to win the civil war and freedom for their people. as a result of their contributions during the war, three amendments were added to the constitution, the 13th that abolished slavery, the 14th that gave equal rights to blacks, and the 15th that gave the right to vote to the black men. now, remember, back at that time, no woman, white or black, was allowed to vote. the first black troops in the war were actually enlisted in 1862. they were raised in south carolina, kansas and louisiana. and that's because on july 17th,
9:43 am
1862, the second militia act was approved and signed by president lincoln. these acts allow as many persons of african decent as necessary to be employed to help suppress the rebellion and use them in such manner as he may judge best for public welfare. to some, this meant that they could be soldiers. in south carolina, general david hunter had organized a regiment of south carolina former slaves. the first south carolina colored infantry. only to have them disbanded because president lincoln would not approve hunter's emancipation of slaves in his military district nor authorize the raising of black troops. while hunter failed, orders were addressed to general saxton on august 25th, 1862, to raise 5,000 black soldiers. the first south carolina colored
9:44 am
infantry was reformed. and they later became the 33rd usct. the importance of this order was that these soldiers were raised by the authority of the united states war department and not by some enterprising general on his own authority. in kansas, a paragraph in the newspaper the daily consecutive of october 6th, 1861, describes senator james h. lane's cavalry men as such. and i quote, one peculiarity is curious enough to be noted down by the side of one white cavalier, his figure were such that without any other distinguishing characteristic, he still had been a marked man. but this is the first substance which has come to our personal
9:45 am
knowledge. although not the only one, in fact, of a contraband serving as a union soldier. and this was in the fall of 1861. but they had come through the fighting during the kansas and nebraska act of 1854 and that fighting went on all the way up and through the civil war. officially now, general lane organized the first kansas colored infantry on august 5th, 1862 with his notification that the secretary of war. but the next day, he wires stanton again and stated that he was raising these soldiers based on the second confiscation act. so the first kansas has a distinction of being the figure colored troops to engage the enemy. in october 1862 with a raiding party in missouri and the
9:46 am
squirmish at mound, they became the 79th usct. in louisiana in 1862, general john felts began to recruit the blacks, the louisiana, native guard to reinforce his troops outside of new orleans. general benjamin butler could not authorize general phelps to do so, so phelps resigned. when you look at this picture, it says that this first picture on the left side is the first louisiana native guard in 1861. and then you look at the other picture on the other side, and that's the actual photo from u.s. camp william penn. and the painting that i shared earlier, those were the soldiers. the members of the guard approached butler first because
9:47 am
butler could not get any reinforcements that he wanted from the u.s. government. so he is going to authorize three regiments of louisiana native guard. the first and second native guard are going to have their own black officers. the third regiment will have black and white officers. general butler changed their name from the louisiana native guard and later in the war their designations will be changed to uscts. again, going back to this picture, i went to one round table meeting and a man was talking about his book. and he showed that picture, the first louisiana native guard 1861. and i tried to warn him before that this was not a picture of
9:48 am
the louisiana native guard. but he used as -- or he cited the internet as saying that these were the native guard. so i showed him this other pictured and i said, look at each one of those soldiers. they're the exact same soldiers. i said, you go to independence hall in philadelphia and you'll see the painting and the picture of those soldiers. they came from camp william penn. so you can't believe everything you read on the internet. but you have to actually do the research because many years ago when i saw that picture, i actually thought it was a louisiana native guard until i saw the original picture and i said, these men all look the same. i compared each one and that's how i found out about it. plus if you look at those pictures, they're wearing union coats and this guy had said thought they were the native guard that those were confederate uniforms. so they're not.
9:49 am
the native guard were militia for the state of louisiana. they were not confederate soldiers. louisiana which has black militia dating all the way back to 1727, louisiana was a french territory, then they seeded it to spain for a while and the french got it back before it was bought by the united states. so many of those men were french or spanish or creole and a lot of them were wealthy black entrepreneurs who were educated in europe. in fact, it is said that the members of the wealthy -- the wealthy members or african-american members of the louisiana native guard had more wealth than all of the blacks in new york city. so they were very wealthy guys. and they had property to protect in louisiana.
9:50 am
let's take a step back. now, when i talk about this subject, i always talk about when the soldiers were actually founded. soldiers were actually founded. however, we beginning of the war, black men had tried to get in both armies. and that's going to happen after the battle of fort sumpter on april 15th, abraham lincoln calls for militia to put down the rebellion. when pennsylvania sent its troops to washington, they marched through baltimore on april 18th where a mob met them and the first man wounded was a black man named nicholas bitle. most states north and south banned blacks, however there were some that did get into
9:51 am
militias. knowing that the state of war existed in the united states, blacks were deied by both governments. however, on may 2, 1861, the state of louisiana accepted the louisiana native guard now, both armies used thousands of black servants, teamsters, cooks, scouts and other support duties. these type of duties did not qualify for being soldiers back in the civil war. however, there are stories that some of these men may have picked up weapons and fought the enemy. and that's probably true. i've seen many accounts where men have done that. but blacks were not allowed in the confederate army until march of 1865. and some of those blacks had served in other duties for the
9:52 am
confederacy. such as hospital stewards. they served at a hospital in richmond, which is a very famous hospital now part of the richmond battlefields. there were about 50 blacks in the integrated companies that left at the fall of richmond, which happens in april of 1865. now this one black man on this slide we are very proud of, sergeant nimrod burk. now at the beginning of the war, he was a scout and a teamster for the 36 ohio infantry and served there from april 1861 until he joined the 23rd in 1864. now he is from prince william county, virginia. but his family was freed a long time, so he moved to ohio, so he
9:53 am
served as a free man, as a teamster and a count. teamster and a scout. while black men were not allowed in the union and confederate armies, there were some light skin blacks who actually passed for white that were in both armies and we'll never know the full extent to how many did that. one example is lieutenant colonel william n. reed of the 1st infantry. in some places he was listed as white, others he was listed as a ma la doe. but his father was a white danish man and his mother was a black save from st. croix virgin islands. he graduated from military school in denmark. and most people think of that as being germany.
9:54 am
it does become part of germany after the second prussian war. he served in the danish army before coming back to the united states. he would lead the battle, taking over for the colonel who was not there. he was mortally wounded in action and died. but he was in command and he talked about the discipline of the 35th uset when the 35th and the 54th massachusetts actually held the line as the union troops were retreating. but lieutenant colonel william m. reed is recognized as the highest ranking african-american officer in the civil war. and his muster papers are right under his name. but the other guy, you see his picture, colonel john wayles jefferson. last year i went to mont cello
9:55 am
and i saw pictures of african-americans with ties to mont cello who actually served with the union army in the civil war. one picture was colonel john wayles jefferson. who was originally john wayles hemmings, he is the grandson of thomas jefferson and sally hemmings. his father wassestings hemmings who moved his family from virginia to ohio. and in 1852, because of the fugitive slave act they had to get out of ohio. so they go to wisconsin and the father changes the family name to jefferson. and he let people know that he is the son of thomas jefferson. so they passed as white in wisconsin and john enlisted in the 8th wisconsin volunteer
9:56 am
infantry as a major. he fought in many battles, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel and colonel and he commanded that regiment until the end of the war. the african-american has his biography at monticello and on the american battlefield trust website. he's known in both places as an african-american and hopefully he'll soon be listed as the highest ranking african-american officer in the civil war. but another black man used ingenuity to enter the army. william henry johnson, joined if 2nd connecticut and registered as a quote/unquote independent man. a status that was not clearly identified. after his 90-day term expired with the 2nd connecticut he enlisted in the 8th connecticut and fought at first bull run and
9:57 am
during burnside's north carolina expedition to roanoke island and new burn. although johnson could not pass as white, there was some soldiers in both armies that did pass. now, the black soldiers, all were involved in the pay controversy where white troops were paid $13 a month plus a $3 clothing allowance. where black troops were paid only $10 a month with a $3 clothing fee withheld. making their pay $7. a month. and that's less than half of what the white soldiers made. but blacks were paid in accordance with the second confiscation and militia acts, even though they were now recognized as regular soldiers. now on september 28, 1864, pay was equalized by congress and they received 18 months pay from
9:58 am
the time that they were in, depending on the time of their enlistment. but only the free black soldiers got paid the back pay. those slaves who had joined the army, they were not eligible for the back pay. this controversy was part of the movie "glory" when you saw denzel washington tearing up the pay stubs. now let me discuss a few of the battles. we know the battle of fort wagner where the 54th massachusetts made its grand assault. and sergeant william h. carney earned the medal of honor at that battle. but the battle of wilson's landing or wilson's war. now two years ago i did participate in the reenactment that they have in charles city, virginia. every year they celebrate or commemorate the battle of wilson's war or wilson's
9:59 am
landing. happened may 24th, 1864 in virginia and it pitted 900 men of the first and tenth u.s. colored troops, plus 150 white soldiers from a transport and two cannons from the battery m. of the third new york light artillery under general edward wild. now wild is the commander of what they called wild's african bri cade. wild was a very colorful abolitionist and general in the civil war. they were commanding -- it's about 1100 or so men against 2,500 confederate calvary, commanded by general fits hugh lee, the nephew of robert e. lee. after lee drove into pickets, he sent the flag of truth in
10:00 am
demanding the surrender of the garrison. but general wild declined and said, quote/unquote. we will try it. and then he added, present my compliments to general fitz lee and tell him to go to hell. a transport landed 150 unarmed white soldiers and the gun boat helped the union forces general lee ordered a charge beaten back by the black and white soldiers there. union casualties were about -- ranging from 25 to 47 and confederate casualties ranged from 175 to 200. this was the first real battle of the uset and the army of northern virginia. the battle of new market heights was fought on september 29, 1864. with troops of the army of the
10:01 am
james attacking fortifications defending the confederate capital of richmond. general charles paynes third division was three brigades of black troops and general william bernny had a colored brigade in the 10th core. they succeeded in capturing new market heights. 14 black soldiers earned the medal of honor for their actions. the first attacks on st. petersburg june 15th, and 17th, 1864. involved black troops from the army of the james who captured some of the defensive works outside the city. they fought with the battle cry, remember fort pillow. that day black soldiers took no prisoners, execuing wounded until their white officers got tired of seeing so much
10:02 am
bloodshed. however on july 30, 1864, the battle of the craters in st. petersburg, the army of the potomac, trained to lead the attack, were made to be the last attacking division. and by that time, there was a strong confederate counterattack. and the confederates saw the black troops, they were enraged and took few black prisoners. they yelled no quarter and executed black soldiers who were wounded or surrendered on the field. confederates said they would kill white soldiers aiding black soldiers. this was a debacle and in many battles after black pillow, black soldiers offered no quarter to white soldiers and confederate soldiers did the same to them. but the confederate soldiers did it on many more occasions than the black soldiers did. the battle of nashville, eight regiments of black troops, two brigades were supposed to make a
10:03 am
demonstration on the confederate right wing so general george henry thomas could attack the left wing. their attack was so strong that the confederates weakened their left wing. the black troops faced heavy fire and suffered tremendous casualties. but george henry thomas was able to destroy general john bell hood's confederate army because that left flank was weakened so much by the black troops attacking on the right. in december of 1864, the black division of the ninth core in the army of the potomac and the two black divisions of the 10th and 18th corp. of the army of the james formed the 25th corp., this became the largest grouping of black soldiers in the civil war. general butler, commander of the
10:04 am
army at the james, loved having black troops in his core. he tried to get the black ninth corp. division transferred to him but that didn't take place. now, in the greater fredericksburg area, the first black troops to fight general robert e lee's army was the 23rd regiment united colored troops. my colleagues and i respect the 23rd during the battle of spotsylvania courthouse, they were called on to assist the 2nd ohio calvary, being chased by general thomas ross' brigade of calvary. they marched from the ruins to the intersection of orange plank road to the alridge farm and
10:05 am
drove back the confederate calvary. that let the white soldiers know the black soldiers would fight. this is very specific to that area because many of the soldiers in the 23rd were escaped slaves from the fredericksburg and spotsylvania county area. and they were now fighting on their own home ground. but let me start with the story of the 23rd. as you see right here, the 23rd has an exhibit at the chancellorsville battlefield visitors center. i'll say more about that later. but let's talk about how the black troops in the fourth division of the 9th came into being in january 1864, general bernside was asked to reconstitute the ninth core and he said he would if he could have a black division.
10:06 am
and stanton agreed, and the 4th division of the 9th corps was now going to be formed. now this is going to be pretty confusing for general grant because general ambrose burnside outranked george gordon mead so he could not report to him. so the 9th corps was going -- that created such confusion that every time general grant had to give orders for both armies to work together, he had to do that. and it's going to change by may 24th he had enough of that, and he is going to place the 9th corps under the army of the potomac. now, the 4th division was two
10:07 am
brigades, the regiments were divided. and the first one is going to be made up of the 27th, 30th, and 39th and 43rd usct. second brigade. first was the 30th connecticut colored infantry, they only had about four companies so they were transferred to the 31st. and then the 19th, 23rd, 31st, usct and then late june, the 28th and 29th usct were added to the second brigade they came from illinois to connecticut and new york to virginia. there were stories about when all of these soldiers got together in petersburg that some members saw their own family members and for some soldiers it was sort of a homecoming. now the men of the 23rd were recruited in the washington d.c. area and many of those men had
10:08 am
come from the fredericksburg area. in april of 1862 to august of 1862, over 10,000 slaves will escape from the fredericksburg area. many following the union army back to the washington d.c. area. they were organized and trained at camp casey, virginia, approximately where the pentagon is today. so many of those men were free and ex-slaves from virginia. the fredericksburg and spotsylvania national military parks has plushed the stories of three members of the 23rd, andrew weaver, peter churchwell and abraham tux. now read the official reports from the official records about their skirmish on the 15th of may. headquarters division 9th army
10:09 am
corps miller's house, may 15th, 1864. general, i have the honor to report that at 12:30 p.m. today, the 2nd ohio calvary, stationed at pineny branch church were compelled to fall back by forces consisting of one brigade of calvary. i ordered the 4th division in readiness and marched the 23rd colored troops to support the calvary. upon arrival i found the second ohio across the road and the enemy occupying the cross roads. i ordered the colored colored troops to advance, which they did. not being able to pursue with infantry, the 2nd ohio formed and gave chase, which they, the 2nd ohio now occupy piney branch church. all quiet elsewhere.
10:10 am
loss amounted to eight or ten wounded. the enemy lost some five horses killed. i changed my position to a more secure one to protect the trains and roads leading to the army. i have since learned from one of my scouts that hampton's brigade is in full retreat in perfect disorder toward todd's tavern. i am general, very respectfully your servant. general brigadier rollands chief of staff. they'll fight again against thomas ross' probing calvary. after the war -- well, the 23rd was at the battle of the crater where they suffered the most losses of my of the regiments and finished the war in the ap ap mat ticks campaign. and later they're sent to texas, the entire 25th core is going to
10:11 am
go to texas as part of the 50,000 man army. france had taken over mexico and were thinking of invading texas. but the power of the american army led to the overthrow of the french from mexico. some of those black soldiers stayed out west and became buffalo soldiers. now in the fall of 2010, i was working at spotsylvania courthouse, battlefield for the park service, i was at the angle with a fellow co-worker we discussed the upcoming anniversary of the 150th usct and thought about forming it then. january 2011 we formed the unit with five original members, which grew to about 25 at its height. i was the first president and since 2011, we have participated in over 200 events. including our first in-person event since -- from 2020.
10:12 am
we just participated on march 13th with the american legion of fredericksburg. they had a history for kids program. so four of us came down dressed in our uniforms. we love to be in the uniform, especially when there is a chance to educate people about the united states colored troops. so on may 17th, the 23rd, with other usct and union living history regiments and reenacts along with the assistance of the fredericksburg and spotsylvania commuted celebrated the 150th anniversary of their first skirmish. the military park had the grand reopening of the recently renovated chancellorsville battlefield visitors center. and the visitors center now has a lot more exhibits about african-americans than it did before. before it was renovated, they had the same exhibits for over 50 years.
10:13 am
and 2014 is when it changed. so when they opened it up, we had the exhibit and many of the people took pictures of the 23rd at the visitors center next to that picture. now that picture is of sergeant george washington. and he was from spotsylvania county. however, he was one of 12 george washingtons in the 23rd. and that's because a lot of the slaves didn't have official names, or only had one name. or since they were from that area, if any of the slave owners found out that they were serving in the union army, their relatives still in captivity could suffer harsh punishment. so, they changed their names to george washingtons. and one day, after we started the 23rd, i just happened to look and the roster, written
10:14 am
down, and there were so many george washingtons, it took pages in the roster. also on that day, we had a big program and the fredericksburg and spotsylvania national military park sponsored a lot of it. we did have a big program on the chancellorsville battlefield, the fairview section and voice of america was there. they interviewed many of the participants and they actually did a short video and put it on their website. but we had the sons of union veterans, general us grant, the same one we had at ap mat ticks. and we had multiple union regiments there. john hennessey was the chief historians of fredericksburg and spotsylvania national military park and he was the keynote speaker at that part of the ceremony.
10:15 am
then we had another ceremony right at the site of the skirmish. the old alridge farm is now the heflin farm. the heflin family allowed us to set up a tent and have people there. we had a procession from the chancellorsville battlefield led by all of the union reenactors first and then the community actually followed us, and the community was able to sit under the tent and we had the ceremony, and that was for the unveiling of the virginia state marker. the 23rd usct at the alridge farm. that was about a half mile away from where we were at the heflin farm. so that shows one of the tents that we had. you see all of the different reenactors that were behind me. i was the emcee for the program. and standing next to me, on my left, was lou carter and to his
10:16 am
left was john comings. lou carter was president of the 54th massachusetts b and john comings was the co-founder of the 23rd with me. but that didn't end the day because when we were there, we had two keynote speakers there. dr. james bryant and general us grant, larry crowry. so they gave the speeches there. after that we had a big reception at the john j. wright museum. hopefully we gave a good recognition to those soldiers from the 23rd. frederick douglas, likely on july 24, 1863 spoke to the third usct about their importance in the civil war as some of america's first black federal troops. and probably gave the speech to more regiments as well.
10:17 am
the fortunes of the whole race for generations to come are bound up in the success or failure of the 3rd regiment of colored troops from the north. you are a spectacle for men and angels. you are, in a manner, to answer the question can the black man be a soldier? that we can now make soldiers of these men, there can be no doubt. douglas' powerful words resonated with many of the soldiers who like him were ex-slaves. but in conclusion black soldiers fought in numerous battle actions, approximately 150. and in those battles they suffered enormous amounts of casualties, depending on how well they were trained. some fought very well, some were average and some fought poorly, just like white troops. however, many of the soldiers
10:18 am
who fought alongside of them talk about their discipline, bravery and willingness to keep fighting while suffering so many casualties. by the end of the war they make up 10% of the union army and they enlisted at a time when there was a big slow down in white enlistment. many historians state that their efforts went a long way to winning the war. general benjamin butler, who is not the greatest general but he did appreciate black troops. he created the army of the james, commonly called the butler medal. it was the only medal ever struck for colored troops. butler designed and paid for these medals after the battle of chaffin's farm or new markets heights. i close with this quote from general butler, who appeared before congress after the war, advocating the passage of a bill
10:19 am
for giving civil rights to the negro race. he gave an eyewitness account to the fighting at new markets high and said of the dead, and i quote, i looked on their bronze faces, upturned in the shining sun, as if in appeal against the wrongs against the wrongs of the country for which they had given their lives and whose flag had only been to them a flag of stripes on which no star of glory had ever shown for them. feeling i had wronged them in the past and believing what was the future of my country to them, among my dead comrades there i swore to myself, a solemn oath. may my right hand forget its
10:20 am
cunning and my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth. if i ever fail to defend the rights of those men who have given their blood for me and my country. this day and for their race forever. and god helping me, i will keep that oath. thank you. american history tv on cspan3. every weekend documenting america's story, funding comes from these television companies and more. including comcast. >> you think this is just a community center? no. it's way more than that. comcast is partnering with a thousand community centers to create wi-fi enabled lift zones so students from low income families can get the tools they need to be ready for anything. >> comcast along with these television companies supports
10:21 am
american history tv on cspan3 as a public service. weeknights we're featuring american history tv programs as a pre view of what's available every weekend on cspan3. tonight from our lectures in history series, university of dayton professors teach a class about 1970s american car culture and films of the era. they say films reflected many american's disallusionment and glorified the open road as a way to take back control. they also talk about the impact of oil shortages, the rise of coast-to-coast races, called cannonball runs and the popularity of trucker movies and music. watch tonight starting at 8:00 eastern and every weekend on cspan3. american history tv on cspan3.
10:22 am
exploring the people and events that tell the american story every weekend. saturday at 5:00 p.m. eastern a look at controversies over free speech over political cartoons. at 6:00 p.m. eastern on the civil war, a discussion with chris mackowski. and saturday at 8:00 p.m. eastern on lectures in history johns hopkins university professor jonathan conley on the promise of sue sue bush ya. and sunday a conversation on first ladies. exploring the american story, watch american history tv this weekend on cspan3.
10:23 am
>> cspan's landmark cases explores the drama behind significant key court decisions. sunday at 9:45 p.m. eastern, "the new york times" v. united states, the nixon papers. the court's ruling protected the times first amendment rights of freedom of the press. watch landmark cases sunday night at 9:45 eastern online, on cspan or listen on the cspan radio act. u.s. secretary of state antony blinken testified earlier about the 2022 budget. he took questions from the foreign relations committee chaired by senator bob menendez.

36 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on