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



Compiled by Bennie J. McRae, Jr.

The list only represents a small number of heroic and caring individuals and groups who dedicated their lives to the cause of freedom and citizenship for all Americans during the most turbulent period in this country's history.


  • Frederick Douglass - A fugitive slave who rose from bondage to become a foremost orator, writer, abolitionist, and the most influential black leader of the mid-nineteenth century.
  • Harriet Tubman - Conductor on the Underground Railroad. During the Civil War she served as a scout, and nurse and was described as “the head of the intelligence service in the Department of the South. She planned and guided a raid by black soldiers under the command of Colonel Montgomery that dashed into enemy country, destroying millions of dollars worth of commissary stores and cotton...and freed nearly 800 slaves without losing a man. The only American woman to lead troops on the field of battle.
  •  The over 178,000 ex-slaves and freedmen that served in the United States Colored Troop and the 30,000 that served in the Union Navy during the Civil War.
  • Martin Delaney - Born free in Virginia in 1812, attended school in Pennsylvania and later studied medicine and law at Harvard. He was a recognized geographer, anthropologist, author, and lecturer. Appointed to the rank of Major and assigned to the 104th United States Colored Infantry Regiment, becoming the second Black field grade officer in the Union Army.
  • Susie King Taylor - Born a slave in Georgia and at age 14 escaped with an Uncle behind the Union lines. During the Civil served as a teacher, nurse, and laundress to the men of the 1st South Carolina Volunteer Regiment, later redesignated the 33rd United States Colored Infantry Regiment.
  • Charlotte L. Forten - Born in Philadelphia in 1838 of relatively wealthy parents, her persistent and primary concerns were the liberation and uplifting of her race. She volunteered to participate in the Port Royal Experiment, an educational and work program for ex-slaves.
  • Caldonia Vaughn - Born in Topeka, Kansas, and during the Civil War served with the 3rd Illinois Cavalry and 12th Missouri as a cook and nurse. She died in 1939 at the age of 95.
  • Allen Allensworth - Born a slave in Louisville, Kentucky, he taught himself to read with the Bible and a Webster Speller. Attempted to escape twice to Canada and subsequently sold to a slave trader going south. Escaped from Mississippi and travelled to Illinois. During the Civil War attached himself to the 44th Illinois Infantry serving as a Corpsman and went back south with the unit to Tennessee. Joined the Union Navy and served aboard several gunboats on the Mississippi River.
  • Andrew Jackson Smith - Born a slave in Kentucky on September 3, 1842, he “fell in” with the 41st Illinois Volunteer Infantry as the unit was travelling southward. Served as a laborer and subsequently servant to Colonel John Warner. Both were wounded during the Battle of Shiloh after which they went to the Colonel’s hometown to recuperate. He later travelled to Massachusetts and enlisted in the 55th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry and became the Color Sergeant of the regiment.
  • Alfred Wood - A fugitive slave from Mississippi, he became a scout with the 1st Mississippi Colored Cavalry (later redesignated, the 3rd United States Colored Cavalry), and served gallantly throughout the Civil War as an outstanding spy and scout.
  • Private William H. Barnes, 38th USCI; First Sergeant Powhattan Beaty, 5th USCI; First Sergeant James H. Bronson, 5th USCI; First Lieutenant Nathan H. Edgerton, 6th USCI; Sergeant Major Christian A Fleetwood, 4th USCI; Private James Gardiner, 36th USCI; Sergeant James H. Harris, 38th USCI; Sergeant Alfred B. Hilton, 4th USCI; Sergeant Major Milton M. Holland, 5th USCI; Corporal Miles James, 36th USCI; First Sergeant Alexander Kelly, 6th USCI; First Sergeant Robert Pinn, 5th USCI; First Sergeant Edward Ratcliff, 38th USCI; and Private Charles Veal, 4th USCI - - All were awarded the Medal of Honor for gallantry in action during the Battle Of Chapin’s Farm (New Market Heights, Virginia) on September 29, 1864.
  • Eliza Jones - Nurse at the U.S. Army Hospital, Huntsville, Alabama.
  • Amanda Wright - Nurse at the Union Hospital, Vicksburg, Mississippi.
  • Catherine Thomas - Nurse at U.S. Army Hospital, Natchez, Mississippi.
  • Captain Andre Cailloux - 3rd Louisiana Native Guard Regiment - gloriously died in advance of his company while cheering his men on during the Battle of Port Gibson, Louisiana on May 27, 1863.
  • Sojourner Truth - Antislavery crusader and advocate of equal political and legal rights for women. She toured the Midwest to rally support for the Union war effort. Counselled free blacks after the Civil War and worked as an administrator at the Freedman’s Hospital.
  •  The over 7,000 White Officers who served under the Bureau of Colored Troops.
  • Charles Tyler Trowbridge - believed to be the first person who ever enlisted colored soldiers in the Civil War, and after the War while commander of the 33rd United States Colored Infantry Regiment dealt fairly with the concern and sensitivity required in an effort to assist all of the downtrodden people whose lives had been devastated by slavery and the Civil War.
  • Fred Brown - Company D, 33rd U.S. Colored Infantry Regiment who saved the lives of his comrades on board a train deliberately uncoupled over a railroad bridge. He put a pistol to the head of the engineer and forced him to back up the engine and pull the train forwarded before the soldiers were ambushed by Rebel renegades.
  • The Officers of the 4th Illinois Cavalry who organized the 1st Mississippi Colored Cavalry (3rd U.S. Colored Cavalry Regiment), recruited and trained ex-slaves from Mississippi and Tennessee into one of the most effective fighting forces in the Mississippi Valley.
  • Joshua Dunbar - Escaped slave from Kentucky who went to Canada, returned to Ohio, recruited in Troy, Ohio and travelled to Massachusetts to enlist in the 55th Massachusetts Volunteers. After being discharged with a disability on October 28, 1863, he returned to Massachusetts and enlisted in the 5th Massachusetts Colored Cavalry and rose to the rank of Sergeant. Mustered out of the unit on October 31, 1865 in Clarksville, Texas. (NOTE: The father of Poet Paul Laurence Dunbar).
  • Joseph T. Wilson - Born in Norfolk, Virginia in 1836, and settled in New Bedford, Massachusetts. He was a seaman and in Chile when news of the Civil War reached him. He sailed to New Orleans in search of his father who reportedly had been sold in that city. Enlisted in the 2nd Louisiana Marine (Native) Guard Regiment on October 30, 1862 and was discharged on September 1, 1963. He reenlisted in Company C, 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry on December 18, 1863 and was wounded during the Battle of Olustee, Florida on February 29, 1864. Discharged on May 8, 1864 in Boston, he began to gather documents which was later compiled into a book, “The Black Phalanx,” an indepth account of the role Black men played in the Civil War.
  • The Afro-British North Americans, the foreign born of African and European ancestry, and others who sacrificed, suffered and died in an effort to ensure the well-being and freedom of a once enslaved people, and the thousands of other men and women too numerous to mention.

Category: Genealogy | Subcategory: Articles | Tags: Joshua Dunbar , Native Guard , Mississippi , Virginia , South Carolina , Tennessee , Georgia , Florida , Alabama , Louisiana , Texas , Kansas , Illinois , Missouri
Related Topics / Keywords / Phrases: 1812, 1836, 1838, 1842, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865, 1939, 1963, Alabama, Cavalry, Civil War, Clark, Clarksville (Texas), Company C, Edward, Florida, Georgia, Hunstville (Alabama), Illinois, Jackson, Jones, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Louisville (Kentucky), Marine, Mary, Massachusetts, Medal of Honor, Mississippi, Mississippi River, Missouri, Montgomery, New Orleans, New Orleans (Louisiana), Norfolk (Virginia), Ohio, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Railroad, Sergeant, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Topeka (Kansas), United States Colored Infantry, Vicksburg (MIssissippi), Virginia,