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Colored Troops During the Civil War

The United States Colored Troops (USCT) was a branch of the United States Army during the Civil War. The USCT was founded in 1863 and composed primarily of African-American soldiers. Before the war ended in 1865, approximately 185,000 black men served in the USCT. Nearly 40,000 lost their lives. They played a crucial role in helping the United States Army to ultimate victory.

When the Civil War started in 1861, African-Americans were initially turned away when they tried to enlist. As the war progressed, attitudes shifted. The first official authorization allowing African-Americans to employ in federal service came in July 1862. Following the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, President Lincoln authorized the use of African-Americans in combat. Before the war was over, African-Americans accounted for 10 percent of the Union army.

Jordan Wallace of Boyle County, Kentucky, was a 52-year-old farmer when he enlisted in the USCT, 123rd Infantry, Company D,  in 1864. Three of his six sons, Allen, Thomas, and Jordan Jr., also registered. The Wallaces were enslaved and owned by Magdalen Wallace. All four Wallace family members served in the Civil War and gained freedom from slavery in exchange for their service in the Union Army. After the war, Magdalen attempted to get the federal government to pay her $300 for Jordan, saying she maintained her allegiance to the government and was loyal to the Union, but she never got the money.

Sergeant-Major Christian A. Fleetwood

On Fold3, we have compiled service records for soldiers who fought in the USCT. These soldiers displayed courage and resiliency, earning awards for their mettle and heroism, often while still enduring prejudices. Christian A. Fleetwood served as a Sergeant in the 4th Regiment of the USCT, Company G. During the Battle of Chaffin’s Farm outside Richmond, Virginia. When two flag bearers received wounds, Fleetwood secured the American flag before it could touch the ground and continued to charge the enemy fortifications. When it became clear that the unit could not penetrate the enemy line, Fleetwood retreated and rallied a small group of men to continue the fight. He was awarded the Medal of Honor.

To learn more about soldiers like Christian Fleetwood, search our record collections and Memorials relating to African-Americans in the Civil War on Fold3 today!

7 Comments

  1. Wow!!! The history of our nation is really incredible. I can’t wait to dig into this new wrinkle being offered to Ancestry.com users.

  2. Does the records include information on the USCT’s white officers? My great-great-uncle served with the 4th Minnesota as a Sgt. until about July 1863 when he transferred to a USCT regiment as a captain, likely leading a company. He became part of our family when he married my great-grandfather’s sister after the war. My great-grandfather was in the 4th Minn., too, until discharged with a disability in late 1862.

  3. Wow, I was able to review pertinent information about my Great-Great Grandfather
    who served in the Civil War (1861-1865) Thank You Ancestry/Fold III for the new format and updates.

  4. Yes, get rid of the electoral college for electing the President of the United States of America!

    Article I of The Constitution of the United States says, in section 3. (1) “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two senators from each state, (chosen by the LEGISLATURE thereof,) for six years and each senator shall have
    one vote.”

    Article II of The Constitution of the United States states, in part, in section 1.(1) The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States. He shall during the term of four years, and together with the Vice-President, chosen for the same term, be elected as follows: (2) Each state shall appoint, in such manner as the legislature thereof may direct, a NUMBER OF ELECTORS equal to the whole number of senators and representatives to which the state may be entitled in congress: but no senator or representative, OR PERSON HOLDING AN OFFICE OF TRUST OR PROFIT under the United States, shall be appointed an elector.”

    Amendment 17 of The Constitution of the United States says,in part, however, (1) The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two senators from each state, ELECTED BY THE PEOPLE THEREOF….)

    In the 21st century, and in my humble opinion, the head of the Executive Branch of our government, the President of the United States of America, should also be elected by THE PEOPLE THEREOF…!! We are capable of doing it now!

  5. Any particular reason why you feel that the electoral college is still needed to elected our president when it no longer felt to be necessary for election United States Senators?