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A Regiment of Slaves: The 4th United States Colored Infantry, 1863-1866

Overview

The 4th United States Colored Troops (USCT) regiment saw considerable action in the eastern theater of operations from late 1863 to mid-1865. The regiment—drawn largely from freedmen and liberated slaves in the Middle Atlantic and New England states—served in Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Butler’s Army of the James, whose mission was to capture the Confederate capital at Richmond. From May to December 1864, the 4th saw action in the Bermuda Hundred and Richmond-Petersburg campaigns, and in early 1865 helped capture the ...

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Overview

The 4th United States Colored Troops (USCT) regiment saw considerable action in the eastern theater of operations from late 1863 to mid-1865. The regiment—drawn largely from freedmen and liberated slaves in the Middle Atlantic and New England states—served in Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Butler’s Army of the James, whose mission was to capture the Confederate capital at Richmond. From May to December 1864, the 4th saw action in the Bermuda Hundred and Richmond-Petersburg campaigns, and in early 1865 helped capture the defenses of Wilmington, North Carolina, the last open seaport of value to the Confederacy.

Citing recently discovered and previously unpublished accounts, author Edward G. Longacre goes beyond the battlefield heroics of the 4th USCT, blending his unique insights into political and social history to analyze the motives, goals, and aspirations of the African American enlisted men. The author also emphasizes how these soldiers overcame what one of their commanders called “stupid, unreasoning, and quite vengeful prejudice” and shows how General Butler, a supporter of black troops, gave the unit opportunities to prove itself in battle, resulting in a combat record of which any infantry regiment, black or white, could be proud.

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Editorial Reviews

Civil War Times Illustrated

“For cavalry and/or Gettysburg enthusiasts, this book is a must; for other Civil War buffs, it possesses the qualities sought by students of the conflict. . . . The author’s graphic recountings of the Virginia fights at Brandy Station, Aldie, Middleburg, and Upperville, the Pennsylvania encounters at Hanover, Hunterstown, Gettysburg, and Fairfield, and finally the retreat to Virginia, are the finest this reviewer has read under a single cover.”—Civil War Times Illustrated
Military Images
“A much-needed, long overdue piece of the complex mosaic which makes up the Gettysburg story. No Civil War library should be without it.”—Military Images
Civil War Times Illustrated

“For cavalry and/or Gettysburg enthusiasts, this book is a must; for other Civil War buffs, it possesses the qualities sought by students of the conflict. . . . The author’s graphic recountings of the Virginia fights at Brandy Station, Aldie, Middleburg, and Upperville, the Pennsylvania encounters at Hanover, Hunterstown, Gettysburg, and Fairfield, and finally the retreat to Virginia, are the finest this reviewer has read under a single cover.”—Civil War Times Illustrated

Publishers Weekly
Following his history of the Union Army of the James (Army of Amateurs), prolific Civil War historian Longacre now focuses on one regiment of that army in this admirable study. Recruited in and around Baltimore, Maryland, the 4th infantry was unusual among the U. S. "Colored" troops, as it was drummed up partly from free men and partly from slaves. The regiment was capably led by white officers, headed by Colonel Samuel Duncan, and its African-American NCOs, led by the formidably educated Sergeant Major Christian Fleetwood. Although the 4th spent a good part of the war on garrison duty, it saw enough combat in Virginia, particularly around Petersburg, to consider itself honorable combat veterans. Even so, despite the unanimous support of all the officers of the regiment, Christian Fleetwood could not obtain a commission. The 4th ended its wartime career at the capture of Fort Fisher and the subsequent fall of Wilmington, North Carolina; Fleetwood later became commander of the first African-American National Guard unit, in Washington, D.C. This latest entry from Longacre should please his fans; it certainly raises the profile of the neglected Army of the James. (Jan.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803237940
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 12/1/2011
  • Pages: 242
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author


Edward G. Longacre is the author of twenty-four books on the Civil War, including Fitz Lee; Gentleman and Soldier, winner of the Douglas Southall Freeman History Award; and The Cavalry at Gettysburg, winner of the Fletcher Pratt Prize. All three are available in Bison Books editions.
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