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Military Record of Michigan Volunteers in the Civil War
With Honor Roll Of
Negroes Who Went to the Front in Defence
Of The
Nation and Freedom

Michigan's Volunteer Negro Soldiers

1st Michigan Colored Infantry - 102nd U.S. Colored Troops


At this late date it is not generally known how many Michigan Negroes volunteered their services to the Government in the War of the Rebellion, 1861 to 1865, and it will be of interest, no doubt, to learn that more than 1,600 of Michigan's Colored population, in 1864, enlisted in the Union Army to aid in crushing the Rebellion. Troops had been tendered to the Government and had been refused, and it was not until late in the war that Colored men were accepted as defenders of the nation.

In 1903 the Michigan Legislature adopted an act, providing for the compilation and publication, in alphabetical form, the regimental history of all soldiers in Michigan who were enlisted and credited to the State of Michigan in the War of the Rebellion. The act provided for one volume devoted to the First Regiment, Michigan Colored Troops. It was duly passed by the Legislature and approved by Governor Aaron T. Bliss. The compilation was subsequently completed and published, volume 46 being devoted to Negro volunteers.

It was in July, 1863, that Gov. Austin Blair was authorized by the Secretary of War to organize one regiment of infantry composed of Colored men and as fast as the different companies were recorded the officers for same were appointed by the Secretary of War and the companies mustered into service. It is not the purpose here to give anything of a history of the accomplishments of the Negro troops, but primarily to provide an honor roll in this Manual for the Negro citizens of the State who volunteered their services to the Government in its hour of need.

The total number of men who enrolled as soldiers from July, 1863, to the close of the war in 1865 was 1673. There were killed in action, 5; died of wounds, 7; died of diseases, 116; discharged for disability, 114. This regiment left Michigan for Annapolis, Md., in 1864, where it joined the 9th Army Corps. Quoting from the Record First Michigan Colored Infantry, Civil War: "It was soon detached and sent by transports to Hilton Head, South Carolina, where it arrived April 19th, 1864. For two months the different companies did picket duty at St. Helena and Jenkins Islands and at Hilton Head Island. The regiment then occupied Port Royal and assisted in constructing fortifications and other fatigue duty. In August the regiment was sent to Jacksonville, Fla.; then marched to Baldwin, where it destroyed railroad tracks. It was attacked by the enemy and during the engagement the regiment convinced its officers that the men could be relied upon when serious service was demanded. After a long march from through Eastern Florida they first embarked on transports at Magnolia for Beaufort, S. C. In September it was sent to different points at Coosa and Port Royal Islands and in October the enemy attempted to surprise and capture the regiment, but was repulsed and driven off. In November, 1864, a detachment of 300 joined the forces under General Foster at Boyd's Landing, and engaged the enemy at Honey Hill, S. C., Tillifinny and Deveaux Neck. At Gorhamsville a detachment fought a sanguinary battle with the enemy and received the highest commendation of the officers in command for holding its ground in a severe fire and in repulsing a charge and charging in return.

"The artillery from the expedition suffered severely from the enemy's fire, so many horses being killed that two guns had to be abandoned, but the men of the first hauled them off by hand and they were saved."

"Many of the men, though wounded and bleeding, refused to go to the rear and fought until the battle was concluded. In February, 1865, the regiment was re-united at Pocatalligo and made several expeditions into the enemy's country, driving off his cavalry and destroying railroads and building breast works. It was then sent to Charleston, where it built defences and then embarked for Savannah, Georgia. Returned to Charleston, April 9th, and divided into two wings, each wing making daring incursions into the interior of the state, meeting the enemy in several severe skirmishes, defeating him in each engagement. On May 29th, after the surrender of General Johnson, the regiment proceeded to Charleston and for the next few months occupied Summerville, Branchville, Orangeburg, and Winnsboro, and returned to Charleston, where it was mustered out September 30th. Arriving in Detroit, the regiment was paid off and disbanded, October 17th, 1865."

The following is a complete list of all the Michigan men who became volunteer soldiers in the Union Armies during the War of the Rebellion as published in Volume 46, before mentioned:

Co.- Company.
1st C. I.- First Colored Infantry.
U. S. C. C.- United States Colored Cavalry.
U. S. C. H. A.- United States Colored Heavy Artillery.
U. S. C. A.- United States Colored Artillery.

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