The 36th Infantry United States Colored Troops in the Civil War

A History and Roster


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About the Book

During the Civil War, African American war correspondent Thomas Morris Chester was so inspired by the men of the 36th United States Colored Troops that he declared the group to be “a model regiment.” Composed primarily of former slaves recruited from Union-occupied areas of eastern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia, the 36th USCT participated in large-scale expeditions to liberate slaves, guarded Confederate prisoners at major POW camps, served in the trenches before Petersburg and Richmond, and stood as one of the first units to enter the abandoned Confederate capital on April 3, 1865. This volume, which includes a complete regimental roster, explores the background of these former slaves and their families, examines their initial recruitment and chronicles their military contributions throughout the war. More than a unit history, the story of the 36th USCT offers a vivid portrait of the challenging transition from slavery to freedom.

About the Author(s)

James K. Bryant, II, most recently was an associate professor of history at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Virginia. A former National Park Service historian, he is the author of two books on Civil War history.

Bibliographic Details

James K. Bryant, II
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 256
Bibliographic Info: 22 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6878-2
eISBN: 978-0-7864-9020-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations      viii
Preface      1
Introduction: The Resurrection of Peter Wilson, Company C, 36th USCT      3

Part One: “A Model Regiment”
1. I Belonged to a Man      10
2. Noble Men and Patriots      24
3. They Are Most Reliable Soldiers      39
4. Selected from the Most Intelligent Among Them      57
5. De Bottom Rail on Top      80
6. First and Foremost of Them All      101
Conclusion: “Pure Patriotic Principles”      125

Part Two: Unit Roster 36th Infantry, United States Colored Troops (formerly 2nd North Carolina Colored Volunteers), 1863–1866      132

Appendix 1. Composition of a Regiment of Infantry      195
Appendix 2. U.S. Army Ranks      197
Appendix 3. Unit Organization in the Union Army      198
AAppendix 4. Colonel Alonzo G. Draper’s Report of Knott’s Island, N.C., the Arrest of Nancy White, and the Altercation with Lieutenant Colonel Fredrick F. Wead, 98th New York Volunteers      199
Appendix 5. Letter of Sergeant Major Henry N. Adkins, 36th USCT, Requesting an Appointment as a Second Lieutenant, with Endorsements and Reply      203
Chapter Notes      207
Bibliography      229
Index      243

Book Reviews & Awards

“a scholarly, historical examination of the 36th United States Colored Troops…solid reference…highly recommended”—Midwest Book Review; “a compelling history…highly recommended”—Civil War News; “value…a fine regimental roster-history…Its well rounded examination of the military, political, and cultural dimensions associated with the recruitment and deployment of southern raised black combat units comprises a useful model for others to emulate”—Civil War Books and Authors; “the author does a good job of telling the story of the 36th USCT and scholars of the Civil War in general or the United States Colored Troops, or just about anyone who enjoys regimental histories, will profit from reading it”—H-Net Reviews; “a useful addition to the literature on the U.S.C.T.”—The NYMAS Review.