Monday, June 14, 2010

USCT Grave Rededication on Juneteenth

This Saturday a memorial service and grave rededication will be held at the Blairsville Cemetery in Blairsville, PA (just east of Pittsburgh) for eleven United States Colored Troops and one African American sailor.

The servicemen to be honored with new headstones include:

1. Samuel McClellan, 32nd USCT

2. Lewis Bronson, 5th Massachusetts Cavalry

3. Charles Battles

4. Noah Bronson, 43rd USCT

5. Dennis Johnson, 24th USCT

6. James Patterson, 43rd USCT

7. Paul Patterson, 43rd USCT

8. John Patterson, 127th USCT

9. William Robinson, 24th USCT

10. John Yanall, 127th USCT

11. Edward Yaw

12. Kane Ranson, USN

While I’m sure that none of these names are familiar to you, if you consider the units that these men served in you can gain a greater understanding of what their time in the army might have been like.

For instance, Samuel McClellan of the 32nd USCT could have seen action at Olustee, FL or Honey Hill, SC.

William Robinson of the 24th USCT may have been a prison guard at Point Lookout, MD.

James Patterson of the 43rd USCT most likely witnessed the horrors of the Crater while his brother in the 127th USCT might have stormed Battery 45 during the breakthrough at Petersburg and followed Lee’s army during the Appomattox campaign.

And Lewis Bronson of the 5th Massachusetts Cavalry (Colored) may have known Charles Douglass, son of Frederick Douglass, and might have ridden with the 5th into the streets of Richmond on April 3, 1865.

No matter what these men may or may not have experienced, it is pleasing to see local organizations taking the initiative to honor their local soldiers and learn the stories behind the faded grave markers


  1. This was a beautiful beautiful ceremony on a gorgeous sunny and breezy day. This cemetery puts up hundreds of flags for Memorial Day and there were even more in the Veteran's Circle. I received a flag for Edward Yaw. Here is a photo from the Pittsburgh paper. I am on the left in the bonnet. I play Seth's wife in a living history Fugitive Slave Rescue every year. I am a disabled US History prof, living historian for 40 years, and ex-museum/historic site professional specializing in the Civil War and especially interested in African American History. Glad to find this blog.

  2. By the way, James Henry Bronson and Alexander Kelly, MOH New Market Heights were also born and raised in Indiana County.

  3. Hi Chris,

    I'm glad you found this blog too! Thanks for filling me in on how the ceremony went. I would have loved to have been there in person to pay my respects, but it looks like you and your compatriots did a great job of doing that. I hope you will come back to visit often and feel free to let me know of any upcoming events I can post on the blog.



  4. Glad to see there's a blog on the USCT's. For anyone looking for a good account of what the men of the 43rd USCT's went through at the crater in Petersburg please read the book "No Quarter" Richard Slotkin. Both those Patterson boys may have helped capture over 200 confederates from a South Carolina brigade after intially smashing them in a pincer movement. Only to be swept back by Mahone's Counter Attack. While surely some of their wounded comrades were murdered by victorious rebels...

  5. Hi Kevin,

    Slotkin's book is indeed excellent. You also might want to pick up Earl Hess's new book Into The Crater when it comes out on September 30th. I have a feeling Hess's account will supplant all others on this subject.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment.