Lest We Forget - African American Military History by Researcher, 
				Author and Veteran Bennie McRae, Jr.




By the Governor of the State of New York


On Saturday, January 24, 1998, a proclamation from New York's Governor George E. Pataki was presented by James Seward, R-Milford, to Harry Bradshaw Matthews at the "Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration, U.S. Colored Troops Commemorative," held at the New York State Armory, Oneonta, NY. The event was a successful part of the "United States Colored Troops Commemorative Symposium of Delaware and Otsego Counties, New York, 1997-98" sponsored by the City of Oneonta's Commission on Community Relations and Human Rights, of which Matthews is chair.


The complete Proclamation reads:


WHEREAS, during the 135th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the enlistment of northern Black soldiers in the Union Army, it is appropriate to honor the African-American men and white officers who risked their lives as members of the United States Colored Troops. During the Civil War, New York State was credited with providing 4,125 Black soldiers to the Union ranks. Most of the these men served with three federal regiments organized in the Empire State. The regiments, known as the 20th, 26th and 31st United States Colored Troops, were organized at Rikers Island and Hart's Island, New York City between December 1863 and January 1864; and

WHEREAS, on October 13, 1864, the Union League Club of New York City issued the "Report of the Committee on Volunteering," which detailed the enlistment activities and the heroic actions of the three above-mentioned regiments. The names and ranks of all 111 white officers and 2 Black chaplains were included in the report. Yet sadly, the name and rank of each Black soldier were omitted. Over time, this process repeated itself in other publications, such as Frederick Phisterer's 1890 text, "New York in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865." Even the "Annual Report of the Adjutant-General of the State of New York" (1893-1905) omitted the names and ranks of New York's Black soldiers; and

WHEREAS, the year-long celebration of the 135th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and its focus on the enlistment of freed men into the Union Army provides the opportunity to pay tribute to those brave men who risked their lives. Many paid the ultimate sacrifice and rest in unmarked graves in Louisiana and South Carolina. But, for those who can be identified, let us give a renewed effort to have each placed within a local historical context, as well as provide the opportunity for descendants to claim their respective family heroes; and

WHEREAS, it is fitting that encouragement be given to local communities to search for and identify their African-American soldiers who served this Nation during the Civil War. Recognition should also be given to the United States Colored Troops Memorial Symposium of Delaware and Otsego Counties and the support services at Hartwick College, Oneonta, New York:

NOW THEREFORE, I George E. Pataki, Governor of the State of New York, do hereby recognize the 1997-98 academic year as the




in the Empire State.

George E. Pataki


Click here for information on the United States Colored Troops Symposium.



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Category: Civil War | Subcategory: Proclamation | Tags: South Carolina , Louisiana
Related Topics / Keywords / Phrases: 1861, 1863, 1864, 1865, 1890, 1893, 1905, 1997, 1998, African-American, Civil War, December 1863, Delaware, Harry, Louisiana, New York, New York (New York), New York City, Ohio, Plains, South Carolina, The War of the Rebellion (Book),