Once let the black man get upon his person the brass letters US, let him get an eagle on his button, and a musket on his shoulder, and bullets in his pocket, and there is no power on earth or under the earth which can deny that he has earned the right of citizenship in the United States.
By General Order No. 143 on May 23, 1863, the United States War Department established the Bureau of Colored Troops for the enlistment of blacks in the Union Army. Several volunteer regiments of blacks predated the creation of the United States Colored Troops, but most blacks who served in the Union army did so as part of the United States Colored Troops. By the end of the war some 178,000 blacks had volunteered to serve, and they made up 10% of the Union army, forming 135 infantry regiments, 6 regiments of cavalry, 1 light artillery regiment, 13 heavy artillery regiments and one independent artillery battery.
One of the infantry regiments was raised in Illinois, the 29th Infantry regiment. The regiment entered into service at Quincy, Illinois on April 24, 1864. On May 24, 1864 it arrived in Virginia, and served at Alexandria as part of the Washington defences until June 15, 1864.
Attached to the 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, Ninth Corp until September 1864, and then the 2nd Brigade, 4th Division, Ninth Corp until December 1864, the regiment participated in the following engagements: the Battle of the Crater, Weldon Railroad, Poplar Grove Church and Boydton Plank Road. (more…)