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Charles Rosenberg

a Civil War soldier and veterans leader and Reconstruction-era legislator, was born and lived all of his life in Louisiana. Felix Antoine was born into the distinct community of gens de couleur libre, free persons of color, which existed in the New Orleans area and some other parts of Louisiana since French colonial times. His father was a veteran of the War of 1812, who fought under General Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans, and his mother was a native of the West Indies. His paternal grandmother was reputed to have been the daughter of an African prince, who purchased her freedom from slavery; she saved $150,000 as a free woman (Shreveport Journal obituary of C.C. Antoine, 14 Sept. 1921). Antoine was the younger brother of Louisiana Lt. Governor Caesar C. Antoine who moved from New Orleans to Shreveport prior to ...

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Thomas Adams Upchurch

Born in New Hampshire during the same year Frederick Douglass is thought to have been born in Maryland, Benjamin Franklin Butler led a life parallel to Douglass's in several respects. The two shared mutual respect, friendship, and a working relationship. It is unclear when the two men first met, but they interacted frequently from 1866 to 1890 and almost always agreed on racial issues.

Butler first received national acclaim for his military exploits during the Civil War, but he also made his mark in the political arena afterward. Contemporaries found his penchant for changing his political allegiance enigmatic. He supported the Democrats before the war, the Republicans during Reconstruction, the Democrats again briefly thereafter, and finally various third parties for the last decade of his life. As a Union general, Butler was considered a maverick by the Lincoln administration. In 1861 he unilaterally declared that slaves who sought refuge ...

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Caryn Cossé Bell

businessman, Civil War veteran, and Reconstruction politician, was the son of the influential Creole New Orleanian Joseph Dumas, one of the owners of the Dumas Brothers French Quarter clothiers, a firm that specialized in imported French cloth and luxury apparel. Joseph Dumas invested his share of the firm's profits in real estate and accumulated a considerable fortune in property holdings and slaves. In 1860 African American Louisianans like François and Joseph Dumas constituted the wealthiest population of free blacks in the United States.

Joseph Dumas's import business necessitated that the Dumas family sojourn frequently in France, and it was there that François, was born, raised, and educated. François arrived in New Orleans shortly before the Civil War to manage the family business. He married Marguerite Victoria Victor, and the couple had five children, three girls and two boys. By 1860 he had become one ...

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Barton A. Myers

Born Hiram Ulysses Grant in Point Pleasant, Ohio, the future general and eighteenth president of the United States had an unimposing beginning. Grant was appointed to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1839, where his congressman had mistakenly reported his name as Ulysses Simpson Grant, his mother's maiden name being Simpson. Four years later Grant graduated twenty-first in a class of thirty-nine and accepted a commission as a brevet second lieutenant. The outbreak of the Mexican-American War in 1846 provided Grant with the opportunity to serve under Zachary Taylor and Winfield Scott. In 1854 Grant resigned his commission and returned to civilian life After trying his hand at a series of professions that included farming and real estate he settled into a position as a clerk at his family s store in Galena Illinois Grant remained at the business until the Civil War brought ...

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Thomas Adams Upchurch

Born on the southern Ohio frontier near Cincinnati, Benjamin Harrison came from one of the most respected families in American political history. His great-grandfather signed the Declaration of Independence and served as governor of Virginia, his grandfather was the nation's ninth president, and his father represented Ohio in Congress. After graduating in 1852 from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, Harrison studied law in Cincinnati and then moved to Indianapolis, where he set up a legal practice and made his permanent home. When the Civil War erupted, Harrison received a commission as a lieutenant, quickly progressing to the rank of brigadier general. He campaigned on behalf of Abraham Lincoln in 1864, ran unsuccessfully for governor of Indiana in 1876, and served in the U.S. Senate from 1881 until 1887. In 1888 he accepted the Republican nomination for president.

Although not an abolitionist per se throughout his life ...

Article

Teresa A. Booker

slave, Union soldier, state legislator, teacher, and school superintendent, was one of three brothers born in Marshall, Texas, either to Emily and Jack Holland and later purchased by Captain “Bird” Holland, or to Captain “Bird” Holland himself and a slave.

Despite indeterminable origins, Holland's father purchased the freedom of the three men and sent them to Ohio in the 1850s, where each of them went to Albany Enterprise Academy, a school for blacks. In addition to reading and writing, students there were exposed to a range of subjects, including algebra, geometry, geography, history, chemistry, and astronomy. One of the school's first trustees was Thomas Jefferson Ferguson.

At the age of twenty-three, Holland fought on the side of the Union to end slavery by joining the 16th U.S. Colored Troop (USCT) on 22 October 1864 The 16th was a Tennessee contingent which opened ...

Article

Frank R. Levstik

William H. Holland was born a slave in Marshall, Texas, the son of Captain Byrd “Bird” Holland, who later became secretary of state of Texas. In the late 1850s, while living in Panola County, Bird purchased William and his two brothers, Milton and James, and sent them to Ohio to attend school just prior to the Civil War. William and Milton attended the Albany Enterprise Academy, one of the early educational institutions in the northern United States that was conceived, owned, and operated by blacks.

On October 22, 1864, Holland enlisted in the Sixteenth U.S. Colored Troops. The regiment, organized in Nashville, Tennessee, included enlistees sent from Ohio. During the war, the regiment participated in the battles of Nashville and Overton Hill, the pursuit of Confederate brigadier general John Bell Hood to his defeat at the Tennessee River and garrison duty in Chattanooga as well as ...

Article

Delano Greenidge-Copprue

Oliver Otis Howard was born in Leeds, Maine, to a farming couple, Rowland and Eliza Otis Howard. In 1850 he graduated from Bowdoin College and went on to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where he graduated in 1854 and was ranked fourth in his class. A year later Howard married Elizabeth Ann Waite, with whom he had seven children. After tours of duty in New York, Maine, and Florida, Howard returned to West Point in 1857 to teach mathematics.

In the Civil War, Howard proved himself an able commander, moving up in rank from first lieutenant to colonel of the Third Maine in 1861. In July 1861 he led troops at Bull Run and two months later was promoted to the rank of brigadier general. In the spring of 1862 he was severely wounded and most of his right arm was amputated By August ...

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Benjamin R. Justesen

lawyer, federal official, state legislator, and congressional aspirant, was the first of two sons born to a slave mother, Eliza Mabson, and her wealthy white owner, George W. Mabson, in Wilmington, North Carolina. He was educated at an early age in Massachusetts, where he resided until after the end of the Civil War. How George W. Mabson's father arranged to send his oldest son to Massachusetts in the early 1850s is not known, but presumably he either freed the light-skinned youth or smuggled him out of the state. From the age of eight, George reportedly lived with family friends in the Boston area, where he later worked as a waiter after the outbreak of the Civil War. On 15 February 1864 claiming to be eighteen years old George enlisted in the Union army joining the Fifth Massachusetts Colored Cavalry Regiment s Company G the ...

Article

Robert Jr. Johnson

Massachusetts legislator, and civil rights and women's rights champion, was born in Hartford, Connecticut, the son of William Mitchell and Clara (Green) Mitchell, of whom nothing is known. It is probable that he had a brother, William. Other than the fact that he trained and worked as a printer, little is known of Mitchell's early life. When the Civil War broke out, Mitchell joined the Fifty-fifth Massachusetts Regiment at the age of thirty-three. Little is known of his military service, but he apparently lost a foot in the Battle of Honey Hill, South Carolina, in November 1864. He was one of the few African Americans commissioned as an officer at the close of the war. Unfortunately for Mitchell—and for George E. Stephens in the Fifty fourth as well while the Commonwealth of Massachusetts recognized his promotion the U S War Department did not He was ...

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Hugh C. MacDougall

soldier and politician, was born in Columbia, Pennsylvania, the son of Peter Swails, an African American boatman, and his wife Joanna Atkins Swails, who was usually listed as white; both were from Maryland. After living in Columbia and Manheim the Swails family moved about 1856 to Elmira, New York.

In 1860 Stephen A. Swails worked as a waiter at the Keyes Hotel in Cooperstown, New York, where he married Sarah Thompson, from a local black family; they had two children. On 8 April 1863 Swails enlisted in the newly formed 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, one of the Union's first African American regiments, and was immediately promoted to first sergeant. On 18 July 1863 he fought in the attack on Fort Wagner south of Charleston South Carolina that established the regiment s reputation for valor and led to the formation of the United States Colored Troops ...

Article

Stephen R. Fox

James Monroe Trotter was born on February 7, 1842, in Grand Gulf, Mississippi, the son of a white man, Richard S. Trotter, and his slave Letitia. When Richard Trotter was married in 1854, Letitia, her son, and two younger daughters from the union were sent to live in the free city of Cincinnati. Here Trotter attended the Gilmore school for freed slaves and worked as a hotel bellboy and as cabin boy on a riverboat. Later he briefly attended academies in Hamilton and Athens, Ohio, but according to his son he was largely self-educated. When the Civil War came, he was a schoolteacher in Pike County, southwestern Ohio.

In 1863 Trotter was recruited by black lawyer and activist John Mercer Langston and traveled to Boston to join the Fifty fifth Massachusetts Regiment a black unit with mostly white officers Trotter rose through the ranks ...