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.
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.