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Marlene L. Daut

Medal of Honor recipient, actor, and playwright, was born in Richmond, Virginia, of unknown parentage. Beaty (sometimes spelled Beatty) was born a slave, but little else is known of his early years or how he came to be free. Beaty left Richmond in 1849 for Cincinnati, where he would spend the majority of his life, and became a farmer. Later, Beaty's education consisted of an apprenticeship to a black cabinetmaker in Cincinnati, as well as a tutelage under James E. Murdock, a retired professional actor and dramatic coach.

On 5 September 1862 Powhatan Beaty along with 706 other African American men was forced to join Cincinnati s Black Brigade after Confederate troops repeatedly threatened the city The Black Brigade was one of the earliest but unofficial African American military units organized during the Civil War but it did not engage in any military action since the city was ...

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Glenn Allen Knoblock

Medal of Honor winner, was born into slavery in Santee, South Carolina. When war came he was a slave on the Arthur Blake Plantation on the South Santee River, McClellanville, South Carolina, possibly the same plantation on which he was born. The Blake Plantation, one of many rice plantations in the area, was no small affair; according to the 1860 census it had 538 enslaved men and women and was the twelfth largest plantation in the country. When the Union navy invaded the coastal areas of South Carolina, it not only created widespread panic among slave‐holders but also influenced many of those who were enslaved to emancipate themselves and flee to freedom. In May 1862, with the Union navy off the coast of South Carolina, Robert Blake and four others, Prince, Michael, Jack, and Captain Blake fled the Blake Plantation All were picked up by ...

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Michael F. Knight

soldier and Civil War Medal of Honor recipient, was born a slave in Howard County, Maryland. Little is known of his early life, but according to an 1867 slave compensation claim, Edward Rider Jr., of Baltimore, Maryland, bought Decatur Dorsey from the state of Maryland in June 1861. Following his purchase by Rider, Dorsey's status as slave or freedman is not clear from surviving records, but it seems likely he ran away from his master sometime between 1861 and 22 March 1864, when he enlisted as a private in Company B, Thirty-ninth United States Colored Troops (USCT). On his enlistment papers he describes himself as a free laborer. He stood six feet tall, with black eyes and hair, and was twenty-five years old at the time of enlistment.

Military life in the Thirty ninth USCT agreed with Dorsey A private in March he was promoted to ...

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Glenn Allen Knoblock

Civil War soldier and Medal of Honor recipient, was born in Gloucester, Virginia, and was likely a slave prior to the Civil War. When Gardner enlisted for service in the Union army on 15 September 1863, he listed his occupation as that of an oysterman. The service of James Gardner and thousands of other African Americans in the Union army represented a quest to destroy slavery and establish a foundation for postwar demands for full citizenship For the federal government and most of the North however black patriotism was unwillingly accepted only out of sheer necessity two years of battle and staggering Union casualties compelled Northerners to swallow their opposition to black recruitment and the measure of racial equality that service implied in order to fill their depleted army ranks Indeed early war time fever had dissipated and voluntary enlistments faded making it difficult for states to ...

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Michael F. Knight

former slave, buffalo soldier, corporal in the U.S. Army, Indian Wars veteran, and Medal of Honor recipient, was born in Madison County, Virginia, to John Greaves and a mother whose name is unrecorded. Clinton Greaves enlisted in the U.S. Army on 21 November 1872 at Baltimore, Maryland, and on 19 March 1873 he was sent to the Western frontier to join Troop C, Ninth U.S. Cavalry Regiment, in Texas. The Ninth Cavalry was one of four black regular army regiments later given the name the “buffalo soldiers.” Greaves distinguished himself in 1877 during the height of the Apache campaigns when he became one of twenty-three black soldiers to receive the Medal of Honor for his service in the Indian wars.

Clinton Greaves was a laborer in Prince George s County Maryland when he decided to journey to Baltimore to enlist in the army Like many former slaves Greaves ...

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Glenn Allen Knoblock

Civil War soldier and Medal of Honor recipient, was born in Harford County, Maryland. The personal details of his life are unknown, but he was likely a slave before the Civil War began. By 1863 thousands of slaves had fled to the Union army lines seeking their freedom from Southern masters. Their situation in legal limbo, they gained the name “contrabands,” as opposed to freemen and-women, as soon as they began appearing in Union lines and were settled in hundreds of regional camps. Many of them, men and women, were employed by the Union Army, not as soldiers, but as laborers building fortifications, stevedores, wagoneers, spies, scouts, guides, cooks, and laundresses. A number of men, such as Robert Smalls knew well the waters of their native areas and were employed as pilots The use of blacks as soldiers would not come until midway through the war While the ...

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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 ...

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Glenn Allen Knoblock

Civil War soldier and Medal of Honor winner, was born in Princess Anne County, Virginia. Likely a slave before the war, he listed his occupation as that of a farmer upon joining the Union army sometime in mid-1863 at Portsmouth, Virginia. The enlistment of Miles James, Alfred Hilton, Edward Ratcliff, and thousands of other blacks from the South in 1863 signaled a sea change in opinion in the federal government and the upper echelon of the Union army. For both political and racial reasons, Union generals such as George McClellan and William Tecumseh Sherman had vigorously opposed the idea of recruiting black troops; both men vociferously opposed the idea of racial equality and did not believe that African Americans could be effective soldiers. While the use of black troops would not gain full acceptance until mid-1863 with the establishment of the Colored Troop ...

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William H. Brown

Medal of Honor winner, was born a slave in Williamson County, Tennessee. Little is know about his early life. Like so many African Americans, he might have been hired to serve as a laborer, mechanic, or teamster for the massive Union army supply infrastructure operating out of Nashville, Tennessee, during the Civil War. On 28 July 1866 the U.S. Congress authorized the raising of six regiments of “Negro troops” that were broken down into two cavalry and four infantry regiments. The two cavalry regiments were numbered the Ninth and Tenth U.S. Cavalry Regiments. Jordan enlisted in the U.S. Army in Nashville in late 1866 and was assigned to the Ninth Regiment.

It was not uncommon to find a soldier who spent his entire military service with one regiment or company This was the case with Private Jordan He served with the Ninth through the regiment s initial service along the ...

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Glenn Allen Knoblock

Civil War soldier and Medal of Honor recipient, was born the son of an African slave named Hannah and a white father in James City County, Virginia, on the farm of Nathaniel Hankins. Two years later, when Alexander Hankins inherited his father's 400-acre farm, he also inherited the slaves that worked it and their families, including the infant Edward. Married before the war to a woman, also a slave, named Grace, Ratcliff continued as a slave until one day in early 1864 when he “laid down his hoe in the field” and walked the distance to Yorktown to join the Union camp there as a contraband (Virginia State Senate Joint Resolution, 484). He joined the 38th U.S. Colored Troop Regiment (USCT) when it was organized in Virginia on 28 January 1864 thereby becoming a free man and hoping that soon his family would also be free ...

Article

Glenn Allen Knoblock

Buffalo Soldier and Medal of Honor recipient, was born enslaved in Covington, Kentucky. Toward the end of the Civil War he ran away from his owner, Mary Shaw, at the age of twenty. She subsequently applied for compensation but was denied. Thomas Shaw, meanwhile, joined the Union army, enlisting in the 119th U.S. Colored Troop (USCT) at Camp Nelson, Kentucky. This unit, one of many African American infantry units formed during the war after 1863, was organized in the first months of 1865 and performed garrison duty in its home state and took part in no major battles. While nothing is known of Shaw's specific activities during his time as a young soldier, it is clear that he enjoyed the soldier's life and was proficient at his duties. When the 119th USCT was mustered out of service on 27 April 1866 it would not be ...

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Glenn Allen Knoblock

Civil War soldier and Medal of Honor recipient, was born into slavery in or near Eddyville, Kentucky. His mother was an enslaved woman named Susan, while his father was his master, Elijah Smith. Little is known about Andrew Smith's life, except that he remained enslaved until sometime between late 1861 and February 1862.

When Andrew Smith found out that his master had enlisted in the Confederate Army and intended to take him with him, he ran away to seek his freedom. Family tradition states that he, as well as another slave, walked through the rain for twenty-five miles before coming to a Union Army encampment at Smithland, Kentucky. Smith became the servant of Major John Warner of the 41st Illinois Regiment and subsequently worked at the regiment's headquarters in Paducah, Kentucky. From February to April 1862, Smith performed orderly duties with the regiment including personal ...

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Glenn Allen Knoblock

Civil War soldier and Medal of Honor winner, was born in Portsmouth, Virginia. While most of the details of his life are unknown, the beginning of the Civil War almost surely found him a slave, and in all likelihood he was one of thousands of Virginia slaves that sought their freedom by fleeing to the Union Army lines. One of the greatest challenges for President Lincoln and the War Department at the Civil War s outset was how to handle the flood of runaway slaves from the South that continually flowed through Union lines Although the federal government remained committed to upholding slavery in the border states Maryland Kentucky and Missouri the War Department did not wish to return slaves to masters who might be using them to aid the Confederacy Moreover the Fugitive Slave Law remained in effect and soldiers were compelled to return escaping slaves to loyal ...

Article

Michael Frank Knight

former slave, Buffalo Soldier, and Medal of Honor recipient, was born in Reisterstown, Maryland. Nothing is known of his family or early life. Walley worked as a general laborer and handyman before enlisting in the U.S. Army. He was shipped west and ordered to join Troop I of the Ninth U.S. Cavalry Regiment in 1878. Private Walley quickly established himself as a reliable and trustworthy soldier, as well as an impressive marksman. He would distinguish himself in the last of the Apache Wars during the 1880s when he became one of twenty-three black soldiers to receive the Medal of Honor for his service in the Indian Wars.

In July 1881 the Apache Indian warrior Nana led the remnants of the legendary Victorio s band of Apache fighters on a campaign to oust white settlers from eastern New Mexico In a series of raids on the Texas ...

Article

Glenn Allen Knoblock

Civil War and Indian Wars soldier and Medal of Honor recipient, was born in Carroll, Orleans Parish, Louisiana. While nothing certain is known about his early life, his place of birth suggests that Williams was likely born enslaved and working on one of the many cotton plantations in Orleans Parish until the arrival of the Union Army during the Civil War in early 1862. When the army of General Ulysses Grant set up a supply depot in the area during the campaign against the key Confederate stronghold of Vicksburg, Mississippi, the depot quickly grew into a large settlement with the arrival of large numbers of black refugees. Among them was Moses Williams, who arrived to the Union lines without his parents, according to army records, and subsequently gained employment as a laborer.

Moses Williams began his career as a cavalryman on 11 October 1864 when he enlisted ...

Article

Glenn Allen Knoblock

U.S.Army soldier, Indian Wars veteran, and Medal of Honor recipient, was born enslaved in Somerset, Pulaski County, Kentucky. Nothing is known of his early life, but he gained his freedom by the end of the Civil War in 1865. Woods subsequently made a living as a farmer before he signed up for the military service that would remain his occupation for most of the remainder of his life.

On 10 October 1873, Woods journeyed to Louisville, Kentucky, where he joined the army. Described as a mulatto and measuring in at five feet, six inches in height, Woods was assigned to Troop B of the 9th Cavalry Regiment. This unit was one of six all-black army regiments (soon after consolidated into four) authorized by Congress in 1866 which included the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments and the 24th and 25th Infantry regiments These newly formed ...