United States Colored Troops

By , February 12, 2010


Many people find it hard to believe that any African American, slave or free, would have willingly served on the side of the Confederacy in the American Civil War. But Earl Ijames, a curator at the North Carolina Museum of History, says that hundreds did just that, and that their reasons for fighting were as varied and complex as those of white soldiers. These black soldiers, as well as the blacks who served the Union cause, will be the topic of a presentation sponsored by the Chatham County Historical Association on Sunday, February 28, 2010. The public is welcome at this free program, entitled Colored Confederates and United States Colored Union Troops, which will be held at the Pittsboro campus of Central Carolina Community College at 2:00 pm in the multipurpose room.

“The historically accurate term for the African Americans in the service of the Southern cause is ‘colored Confederates,'” Ijames says, and thousands of them went to war from Southern states, including North Carolina. Some were slaves sent in place of their masters, or were forced or volunteered to serve alongside them. Others were free blacks who offered their services. Whatever their reasons for serving, Ijames says, these men deserve to be recognized for their valor. “It’s a miscarriage of justice for this many people to be just blotted out of history,” he believes.

Ijames has spent some 15 years studying this interesting and controversial topic. At the presentation on February 28, he will present some examples and discuss the historical evidence available to document them. He will invite questions following the presentation.

The public is invited to attend the program to learn more about this fascinating and often ignored subject.

For more information about this program, see the Chatham County Historical Association website: or call Beverly Wiggins at 919-542-4478.

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