Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Yet Another Reason To Love Pittsburgh...

For those of you who don’t know me well, one thing you will quickly learn about me is that I am a die-hard Pittsburgh sports fan. I follow all of their teams (yes, even the Pirates – don’t get me started) as much as I can, which can be difficult for a fella living in central Virginia.

In any case, imagine my surprise when I took a look at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s webpage to get an update on the Buccos and instead saw an article about United States Colored Troops.

Here’s the article in full:

Re-enactors Offer Tribute to Civil War's Black Soldiers

By Mike Cronin
Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Miguel Tucker joined the re-enactors of the 6th Regiment Infantry of the United States Colored Troops because he likes playing drums.

Tucker, 16, keeps doing it is because of all the cool things he's learning.

"I didn't know that 190,000 African soldiers fought in the Civil War," said Tucker, a sophomore at University Prep, a K-12 school in the Hill District.

Because blacks were still slaves, they were not yet called African-Americans, said John L. Ford, historian at the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum in Oakland.

Tucker and the four other members of the 6th Regiment re-enactors performed Monday during Soldiers & Sailors' Memorial Day program.

Ron Gancas, president and CEO of Soldiers & Sailors, founded the modern version of the 6th Regiment last year, Ford said.

The re-enactors use Civil War-style snare and bass drums.

"We want students to know the regiment's history so they have the pride to fulfill the glory that many of the soldiers thought they had when they were fighting for their freedom," Ford said.

Only after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 could black slaves enlist in the Union Army, said Michael Kraus, the museum's curator.

Roughly 8,900 Africans from Pennsylvania fought for the Union during the Civil War and about 800 came from Western Pennsylvania, Ford said. About one-third of them died.

"This is more stern and serious — more discipline — than a regular marching band," said Tucker, the oldest member of the 6th Regiment re-enactment group.

The unit's youngest member, Marshall Anderson, 10, joined because he loves playing drums. And, he, too, has learned some Civil War history.

"They could never let the flag touch the ground — even if the person carrying it was killed," said Anderson, a Wilkinsburg resident who attends Tolatr Academy in Highland Park.

The 6th USCI was part of Col. Samuel A. Duncan’s Third Brigade of Paine’s Third Division,  XVIII Corps during the assault on New Market Heights and had one of the highest casualty rates of any unit that day – 57% (company D alone lost 87% of its strength).

For more on this unit see James M. Paradis, Strike the Blow for Freedom: The 6th United States Colored Infantry in the Civil War and here.


  1. Great article, I have read a little of the 6th USCT. I have been trying to get some more information about their time when they occupied North Carolina after the Civil War, more spefically when they were in May when they occupied Goldsboro NC before the civilian government was created in June. I will have to find Mr. Paradis' book

  2. Thanks for the comment, Mr. Joyner. Paradis' book is a great resource, but he doesn’t spend much time on postwar service in NC. I'd recommend Recollections of a Colored Troop by John McMurray who was white officer in the 6th USCI. He devotes two chapters of his memoir to his time in North Carolina.

  3. Great, I will definitely try to find it. I am interested in how the USCT and the Southern population interacted immediately after the war when neither side knew how the other would react to peace.