by William B. Kurtz | | Wednesday, March 31, 2021 - 14:05

In his fourth letter from the front, Sergeant Taylor describes a general inspection of the 2nd USCT and subsequent festivities that took place on January 22, 1865. He closes his letter with a heartfelt plea for the Black men of his regiment to be allowed to rise to the rank of commissioned officers. “Are we still to be deprived of all those rights and privileges which, by our sacrifices, we justly merit?” Taylor asks. Only around 100 Black soldiers were ever commissioned during the war.



by William B. Kurtz | | Friday, March 19, 2021 - 12:24

In his third letter from the front, Sergeant Taylor described how a detachment of the regiment successfully captured the Confederate-held town of Tampa, Florida. Citing the recent massacre of Black troops at Fort Pillow, Tennessee, Taylor promised his readers that the men of the 2nd USCT would “never... be taken prisoner by the rebels and butchered in cold blood by them.” Instead they would rather “d[ie] upon the battlefield, fighting for liberty and freedom to the oppressed of our native land.”


by William B. Kurtz | | Sunday, March 14, 2021 - 13:49

James T. S. Taylor Reports the Civil War (Part 2): Arrival at Key West     

In his second letter to the Anglo-African newspaper, Commissary Sergeant James T. S. Taylor described the 2nd USCT’s sudden move from Ship Island to Key West, Florida. This brief letter describes the regiment’s experience of being “the first regiment of colored troops that ever paraded [Key West’s] streets” and looks forward to the day when James and his comrades would first meet their enemy on the field of battle.


by William B. Kurtz | | Thursday, March 4, 2021 - 12:12

Sometime in 1862, a free Black man named James T. S. Taylor (1840-1918) ran away from Charlottesville, Virginia, to freedom in Washington, D.C. Describing his harrowing journey two years later in a letter to Abraham Lincoln, Taylor went on to serve as the commissary sergeant of the 2nd USCT regiment.

by Brian Neumann | | Monday, January 11, 2021 - 11:19

At least 65 UVA students, alumni, and professors served in the Union military during the Civil War, passing what historian Carl Degler has called the “severest test” of wartime Unionism. For southerners, in particular, service in the Union military was one of the most direct and powerful statements of enduring loyalty to the United States. Widening the scope, however, reveals dozens of other UVA alumni who affirmed their Unionism as civic and political leaders during the Civil War.

by Robert Colby and Mazie Clark | | Wednesday, September 23, 2020 - 00:00

On July 31, 1866, Susan Jackson, a freedwoman living in Virginia’s Albemarle County, stood before William Tidball, Charlottesville’s agent for the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands. The transition out of enslavement had been difficult for Jackson. In ill health, penniless, and virtually alone, she relied on an allotment of Bureau rations to keep body and soul together.[1] But it was not her physical state that brought her to Charlottesville that day.

by Brian Neumann | | Thursday, September 10, 2020 - 00:00

The Civil War left Pennsylvania lawyer and UVA alumnus James Shunk bitter and angry. In the late 1850s, as a federal secretary and clerk, he had championed the “permanency of the Union” and worked to hold the country together. When the war erupted, he denounced the Confederate “rebellion” and briefly enlisted in the Union’s defense. As a conservative Democrat, however, he vilified his Republican rivals, accusing them of provoking the war, defying the Constitution, and destroying the antebellum racial order.

by Stephen Artner | | Monday, August 24, 2020 - 11:24

By all accounts this summer has been nothing short of the strangest in recent memory. Yet, I would submit, no other time could have been more apt than the current moment to work on the front lines engaging with the public at a Civil War park. I spent two months of this summer working for Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park (hereafter FRSP).

by Catherine Kolo | | Wednesday, July 29, 2020 - 11:13

The Battle of Fort Blakeley in Alabama took place in early April 1865 as the Civil War drew to a close, motivated by the Union desire to drive the Confederates out of their final holdings near the Gulf Coast. The seaport of Mobile Bay was no longer under Confederate control, but the city of Mobile itself still was, protected by the Confederate posts of Spanish Fort, directly to the east across the bay, and Fort Blakeley, about six miles to the north. In the end, nearly 16,000 Union soldiers fought to regain the fort, including some 5,000 members of the United States Colored Troops (USCT).

by Catherine Kolo | | Wednesday, July 29, 2020 - 11:04

One can only imagine the frustration Nancy Douglas of Louisiana, Missouri, must have felt trying to provide information about her late husband, Manuel Price, in her application for a widow’s pension in March 1888. “I cannot give the Month or year in which Manuel Price Enlisted, nor the date of his death, I do not know anything about the nature of the disease of which he died. All that I Know about his death, is what I have been told by Men who were his Comrades.” Price had served in the 68th USCT Infantry Regiment, but died in Benton Barracks in St.