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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

Civil War soldier and Medal of Honor recipient, was born in Burrell Township, Pennsylvania. Little is known about Bronson's life before the war except that he was a barber. Perhaps enthusiastic about getting a chance to fight for the Union cause, he journeyed from Pennsylvania to Delaware, Ohio, to enlist in the 127th Ohio Regiment on 4 July 1863. When he joined, James Bronson was in the vanguard of black service in the army less than two months prior the War Department had created the Bureau of Colored Troops This military agency was created to aid in the establishment of black regiments and the enlistment of both black troops and the white officers who would command them In some cases these regiments were raised entirely under the bureau s guidance However as was the case with Bronson s 127th Ohio Regiment some were raised by individual states and ...

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Moya B. Hansen

Buffalo Soldier, was born in Big Flats, New York, along the banks of the Chemung River, not far from the town of Elmira. Nothing is known about Denny's family aside from the fact that he had a sister. Denny's career as a Buffalo Soldier in the Ninth Cavalry spanned thirty years, during which time he earned the nation's highest military honor, the Medal of Honor. Denny enlisted in the U.S. Army on 13 June 1867, one year after President Andrew Johnson signed legislation establishing two cavalry and four infantry regiments composed of African American men. All of these units were sent to the western frontier to defend settlers from Indian tribes, rustlers, thieves, and bandits.

Denny was assigned to Company C Ninth Cavalry stationed at Fort Davis Texas near the Mexican border Its orders were to protect stage and mail routes between El Paso and San Antonio patrol ...

Article

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 ...

Article

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 free in Cincinnati, Ohio. Details of Hawkins's early life are unknown, but by 1863 he would join the Union army in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and soon he became an accomplished soldier. By 1863, two years into the war, President Abraham Lincoln and the Union army faced a dilemma. Despite victories, albeit at a high cost, at Antietam, Gettysburg, and Vicksburg, Northern states found it increasingly difficult to raise their quotas of men for the Union army. It may have been Chaplain George Hepworth of the 47th Massachusetts Regiment who summed up the situation best when he wrote in late 1863 We needed that the vast tide of death should roll by our own doors and sweep away our fathers and sons before we could come to our senses and give the black man the one boon he has ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Glenn Allen Knoblock

Seminole Negro Scout and Medal of Honor Recipient, was a native of Florida. While nothing specific is known about Payne's life prior to his military service, his ancestors were formerly enslaved before running away and seeking refuge with the friendly Seminole Tribe in Florida. Indeed, the Seminoles treated the large number of black runaways that sought freedom so well that many became assimilated within the tribe, adopting its language and culture. When Payne left Florida for the southwest is unknown; he may, as several biographers claim, have been among the last group of native peoples that traveled on the Trail of Tears after 1842 when the U.S. government forcibly expelled most of the remaining Seminole Tribe after the end of the long-running Seminole War to territory in what is now Oklahoma.

Payne began his military service on 12 November 1873 enlisting in the U S Army as an Indian ...

Article

Glenn Allen Knoblock

Seminole Negro Scout and Medal of Honor Recipient, was born in Santa Rosa, Mexico. His father may have been Caesor Payne, a native of Florida. Based on his military service, it is highly probable that Isaac Payne's family, perhaps his father, was one of the many runaway slaves in Florida that sought refuge with the Seminole Tribe, subsequently adopting their culture and way of life. After the end of the Seminole War with the U.S. government in 1842, many Black Seminoles traveled the Trail of Tears to the Indian Territory in the southwest after being forcibly removed from their native land in Florida. Wary of further troubles and the possibility of being captured and reenslaved, many Black Seminoles subsequently moved further south into Mexico to start life anew. Nothing is known about Isaac Payne's family and life in Mexico as a youth prior to 1871.

On 7 ...

Article

Glenn Allen Knoblock

Civil War soldier and Medal of Honor recipient, was born in Stark County, Ohio. His father was a native of Virginia, while his mother was from Pennsylvania. Federal Census records of 1870 classify Robert Pinn as a “Mulatto,” an indicator that one of his parents was probably white, or perhaps that he was fair in complexion. Little is known about Pinn's early life, but he was most likely raised in Massillon, Canton, or the surrounding area in Stark County. The early years of the Civil War found Pinn a resident of Massilon, Ohio, making a living as a farmer. At the age of twenty, on 15 September 1863, Pinn set aside his farming tools and traveled the eighty-odd miles westward to the town of Delaware to enlist in the 127th Ohio Regiment, the state's first regiment of black soldiers raised to fight in the Civil War.

Little prior ...

Article

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 ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Michael Frank Knight

farmer, soldier, and Medal of Honor recipient, was born free in Carroll County, Louisiana, the son of sharecroppers. His parents' names are unknown. Before his enlistment at the age of nineteen as a private in the army, Stance worked crops like his parents, but as he later noted, farming did not agree with him. As a member of the Ninth U.S. “Buffalo Soldiers” Cavalry Regiment fighting in the Indian Wars in Texas, he became the first African American soldier after the Civil War era to receive the Medal of Honor for bravery and leadership.

Stance learned to read and write during his childhood or teenage years. He may have received some schooling in Freedmen's Aid Society Schools, which opened their doors during the early years of Union occupation of Civil War Louisiana, or perhaps later in Freedmen's Bureau schools during Reconstruction. In 1866 Stance left the ...

Article

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

a Seminole IndianNegro Scout in the U.S. Army and Medal of Honor recipient, was born in Arkansas. Warrior's family background was a mix of Seminole Indian and African American heritage. This resulted when either his father or mother, like many who were enslaved in the pre-Civil War South, ran away from his or her master and found refuge and freedom with the Seminole Nation in Florida. Here they would stay and marry within the tribe. Beginning in the second decade of the nineteenth century, the Seminoles fought a series of wars with the Spanish and U.S. governments to retain their tribal lands; among those who fought in these wars were many Black Seminoles. It may be speculated that Warrior's family name was derived from their fighting abilities. When the second Seminole War ended in 1842 many among the Seminoles except for a few holdouts were forcibly removed to ...

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 ...