United States Colored Troops of NE NC By: Amy Williams

This poster and many others alike, was used to recruit recently freed slaves to fight in the Civil War for the Union Army. The men were recruited for military duty with the promise of freedom, protection, and pay.

Early Black Recruitment in Civil War North Carolina

Wounded Colored Troops at Aikens Landing around 1864

In the early black recruitment during the Civil War at North Carolina, there were plans to introduce four infantry regiments from among North Carolina's African American population. This was the first authorized attempt by the Federal government to enlist ex-slaves in the defense of the Union.

By the end of the war, black recruitment became widely accepted and North Carolina provided just over five thousand of the one hundred seventy-nine thousand black troops raised.

The 41st Engineers at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, in color guard ceremony

The way they were recruited and the responses to their union policy depended upon local conditions, widely divergent personalities, and recent and regional experiences of the black population.


As the black veterans returned, many had been changed in diverse ways. Some ways of the adjustments were, achieving a degree of literacy, others having developed leadership abilities and learning to handle a range of new responsibilities. Black veterans from North Carolina persuasively claimed that they had been an important part of the struggle to end slavery. During their reconstruction service they had been the only force preventing or limiting "white abuse" directed at the freed people.

Colored Troops under command of General Wild, Liberating Slaves in North Carolina


The remains (55 known, 502 unknown) of the 557 U.S. Colored Troops who died on the advance to Wilmington are buried in the northwest corner of the cemetery. Their grave markers are identified with the inscription “U.S.C.T.” or “U.S. Col. Inf.”

Wilmington National Cemetary
Oakgrove Cemetary in Elizabeth City, NC (Jacob Spellman, 14th United States Colored Heavy Artillary)

Oak Grove Cemetery, an old segregated African American cemetery in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Within that cemetery rest almost five dozen soldiers and sailors who served the United States during the Civil War.

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