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Glenn Allen Knoblock

Civil War soldier and Medal of Honor winner, was born in Mexico, Oswego County, New York. Unrecorded in the 1850 federal census, the names of Anderson's parents are confirmed to be unknown. However, likely candidates are Samuel and Mary Anderson, the only black or “mulatto” family recorded living in Oswego County in the 1840 (town of Granby) and 1850 (town of West Oswego) censuses. Samuel Anderson was a native of Bermuda, and his wife, Mary, was a New York native. Bruce Anderson does appear in the 1860 census, listed as a fourteen-year-old “mulatto” residing in Johnstown, New York, on the farm of Henry Adams and his daughter Margaret; he was likely a simple laborer. How he came to live with the Adams family is unknown, but Anderson would remain a resident in the area—except during the time of his Civil War service—for the remainder of his life.

While some ...

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Laura Murphy

memoirist and soldier, was born in Clark County, Kentucky, twenty miles southeast of Lexington (where, in the decades leading to the Civil War, slaves accounted for approximately half of the population), to an enslaved mother and her white owner, John Bell Bruner. He had two siblings, also presumably the children of his master.

Bruner ran away many times as a young man—on one occasion he even made it all the way to the Ohio River—but each time was recaptured and returned to increasingly brutal treatment. Frustrated by Bruner's repeated escape attempts, his master had a set of leg shackles specially made to tie his slave to the wall each night to keep him from running. Bruner's owner also forced him to march through the town wearing the shackles as a warning to other slaves who might consider running away.

Soon after Peter Bruner s last unsuccessful escape attempt this ...

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Genevieve Skinner

Civil War veteran, preacher, and teacher, was born free to an English sea captain and an African American mother on a ship sailing on the Atlantic Ocean. When Angus was two years old, his father died, and Angus and his mother were sold into slavery in Virginia, and later taken to Kentucky. He spent a majority of his early years in Virginia and learned how to read prior to the outbreak of the Civil War, an illegal pursuit for slaves. In 1864, now enslaved in Kentucky, at the age of sixteen Burleigh ran away from his master and enlisted in the Union Army at Frankfort, Kentucky. Upon enlisting Burleigh was trained at Camp Nelson in Kentucky, which was one of the largest areas for gathering African American soldiers during the Civil War. Burleigh became a sergeant with Company G 12th United States Colored Troops U ...

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Minor Ferris Buchanan

slave, soldier, hunter, guide, and pioneer, was born on Home Hill plantation, Jefferson County, Mississippi, the son of slaves Harrison and Daphne Collier. Little is known of Daphne Collier, although it is believed that she had some Native American ancestry. In 1815Harrison Collier accompanied the famed General Thomas Hinds when he fought alongside General Andrew Jackson during the War of 1812 at the Battle of New Orleans. As house servants the Colliers maintained a higher status on the plantation, and from all indications young Holt was a favorite of the Hinds family. At age ten he was taken into the upriver wilderness to serve as a juvenile valet and hostler on Plum Ridge plantation in what would later become known as Washington County in the Mississippi Delta.

At Plum Ridge plantation Holt was trained to hunt and kill anything that could be used as food for the growing ...

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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 ...

Article

Glenn Allen Knoblock

Civil War soldier and Medal of Honor recipient, was a native of St. Mary's County, Maryland. Though nothing certain is known of Harris's early life, he was likely born into slavery and may have remained enslaved until the Civil War. Harris enlisted in the Union Army on 14 February 1864, joining the 38th U.S. Colored Troop Regiment (USCT) at Great Mills, Maryland, stating his age as thirty-six years and his occupation as that of a farmer. A number of USCT regiments recruited men, many of them formerly enslaved, from the Tidewater region of Maryland and Virginia. Among the other new recruits of these regiments were fellow St. Mary's County resident William H. Barnes, as well as Christian Fleetwood, Alfred B. Hilton, and Charles Veale (4th USCT), Decatur Dorsey (39th USCT), and Miles James (36th USCT). All of these men, like James Harris and a number ...

Article

Omar Amer

Revolutionary War soldier, was born enslaved in Stonington, Connecticut sometime between 1739 and 1750. There is very little known of his parentage or early life.

Records reveal that Hill fought throughout the Revolutionary War, first enlisting to serve in Captain Benjamin Throop's Company of Colonel Charles Burrall's Connecticut Regiment in 1775 and again later in 1776. During this time, Hill fought with the army in Canada. Burrall's regiment was one of many needed to reinforce the Continental Army during its invasion of British Canada. The invasion of Canada was one of the earliest large military initiatives during the Revolutionary War. The main objectives of the invasion were to wrest control of Quebec from the British and to gain the support of the French-speaking Canadians. The Continental Army was defeated in December of 1775 and the counteroffensive launched by the British would lead to the Battles of ...

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Beverley Rowe Lindburg

Civil War soldier, cabinetmaker, and fifty-two-year employee of the Rock Island (Illinois) Arsenal, was born free but was kidnapped by slave traders at around the age of five along with his mother, father, brother, and a sister (all of whose names are unknown) from their home near Muscatine, Iowa. He was first sold as house slave to a man named Pickett from Alabama, and later to an Arkansas planter whose last name he took for a surname; he was generally known as “Milt.” Reports of his age vary greatly: census, military, and burial records indicate he was born between 1821 and 1845.

Howard and another house slave were married in a formal ceremony at the Pickett Plantation a privilege that was customarily afforded only to house servants Several children were born to the couple but all family ties were severed when Howard was sold to the Arkansas ...

Article

Nick Nesbitt

Victor Hugues was the son of a baker from Marseilles, France. At the age of twelve, he joined his uncle in Saint-Domingue (now Haiti) at the height of that island's colonial prosperity. After sailing the Caribbean as a corsair in search of English ships, in 1784 Hugues settled in Port-au-Prince, where he opened a bakery. In 1788, when the French King Louis XVI convened the Estates General in Versailles in an attempt to defuse rising antimonarchical sentiment, Hugues was elected and returned to France to represent the petit blancs, or white shop owners and traders. Hugues also became embroiled in the conflict between petits blancs and a mulatto class striving for legal recognition: in February 1791 Port-au-Prince was burned by armed members of the mulatto class, and Hugues, by his own estimation, lost seven-eighths of his worldly goods.

When the French monarchy was overthrown in ...

Article

Kathleen Thompson

Hull was born free in Northampton, Massachusetts. In later years, according to Thomas Egleston, General Paterson's biographer, Hull would say that he was the son of an African prince. He was taken to Stockbridge, Massachusetts, when he was six years old by a black man named Joab. On 1 May 1777, when he was eighteen, he enlisted in the Massachusetts Line, the state militia, as a private. For the next two years he was Paterson's orderly, known among those with whom he served for his intelligence and wit. He was almost certainly among the more than eight hundred African Americans at the battle of Monmouth on 28 June 1778, since he was serving under Paterson at the time and Paterson's brigade fought in the battle. The historian Richard S. Walling includes Hull in a list of those whose presence at the battle is probable but not ...

Article

Elaine Kemp Bragdon

musician, was born George Washington Kemp, the son of William and Angerline Moors Kemp, in Sperryville, Virginia. George and his siblings were born into slavery and would become the slaves of Major Armistead Brown and his son, Joseph, of Culpeper, Virginia. George and his family were fortunate to have had a kind master, but he decided to run away after hearing, like many others, of the freedom he could gain by escaping North.

He and seventeen other slaves ran away one night to enlist in the Union Army, under the command of General Oliver Otis Howard Mr Kemp soon became an aide to General Howard After earning the General s trust he was persuaded to come North and work at the Howard farm in Leeds Maine This was the beginning of a new life for him It was now fast approaching the end of the Civil War ...

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Paul Devlin

professional musician and soldier in the French and Indian War and War of Independence, was the freeborn progenitor of a large Groton, Massachusetts, family. The family later spent time in Dracut and Pepperell, where they owned land. His father, Primus Lew, was a skilled artisan (a cooper, or barrel maker) and it is unclear if he was ever a slave and later freed, or was himself freeborn. The historian Benjamin Quarles claimed that Barzillai Lew was also a cooper, and it has been claimed that Primus was also a musician. His mother was named Margret; nothing else about her is known. Father and son both served in the French and Indian War, with Barzillai (also known as “Zeal”) serving for thirty-eight weeks in 1760 under the command of Thomas Farrington. In 1768 he married Dinah Bowman whose freedom he bought for $400 They later had at ...

Article

Sara Kakazu

autobiographer and former slave, was born at Clover Bottoms, the plantation of Dr. James Hoggatt in Davidson County, Tennessee. His father, John “Jack” McCline Sr., lived on a plantation in a neighboring county; he hired his time from his master and supported himself as a traveling huckster. Though John's mother died when he was two and his sister passed away before he was old enough to remember her, he felt continued family influence through the presence of his grandmother, Hanna, and three older brothers, Richard, Jefferson, and Armstead. McCline's narrative, Slavery in the Clover Bottoms, re-creates this early plantation life, though the majority of the text is concerned with his attachment to Company C of the Thirteenth Infantry of Michigan during the Civil War. Published in 1998, McCline first showed the manuscript to his employer, Herbert Hagerman, in 1930 and ...

Article

Debra Jackson

abolitionist, Civil War veteran, African Methodist Episcopal (AME) minister, and doctor of divinity, was born in New Bern, North Carolina. He was one of several children born to an enslaved father and a free black woman. Although Newton inherited his mother's legal status as a free person, he nonetheless developed a hatred of the slave system. While still a teenager he aided an acquaintance, Henry Bryan in a daring escape from bondage Newton first disguised Bryan in female clothing and led him to a hiding place in the attic of a local slaveholder this plan was of course implemented with the help of the enslaved people of the household Offers of a reward for the capture and return of Bryan yielded nothing and with Newton s further help he safely left the attic hideaway and made his way to freedom in the North Newton recounted ...

Article

Vickey Kalambakal

soldier, ranchero, and politician, was born at the Presidio of San Diego, one of the twelve children of María Eustaquia Gutierrez and José María Pico. His father, like many immigrant men, was a soldier at the Presidio or fort, and he died when Andrés was nine. After his death, the Presidio helped support his widow and children. Andrés Pico's maternal and paternal grandparents had arrived in California in 1776 with two hundred immigrants in an expedition led by Lieutenant Colonel Juan Bautista de la Anza. Like most families who journeyed from New Spain (Mexico), they were poor and of mixed race: African, Indian, and possibly Spanish. Census records classified Andrés Pico's grandmother and uncles as “mulatos.”

After working as a customs official and managing his brother's ranch, Pico chose a military career in the 1830s and rose through the ranks, becoming a captain in 1844 ...

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

Steven J. Niven

slave and Civil War soldier, was probably born in the 1820s or early 1830s in Missouri, where he was living in the 1850s, though he may have been brought there from another slave state. What is known about him survives in two letters he wrote in September 1864 to his children and to Kitty Diggs, the Glasgow, Missouri, slaveholder who owned them and his wife, who was perhaps named Caroline. Further information can be found in a 1937 Federal Writers' Project interview of one of Rice's daughters, Mary A. Bell.

Bell's account reveals that Rice worked as a tobacco roller and head slave on Benjamin Lewis's plantation several miles away from the Diggs farm She recalled that her father diligently visited his family twice a week on Wednesdays and Saturdays the only days Rice s owner permitted him to do so Rice cured Lewis s ...

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Soren Henry Hough

civil war soldier, was born in Lebanon, Connecticut. His parents are unknown; however, it was noted that his maternal grandmother was a Native American from the Pequot tribe and lived in Bozrah, Connecticut. He is listed as a mulatto according to the 1880 Federal Census. In his civilian life, Seymour worked as a coachman, a gardener, a waiter at a hotel, and a janitor. He was a sergeant in the Civil War, a political activist, and an estate owner.

On 22 November 1854, Thanksgiving Day, Lloyd G. Seymour, age twenty-three, married Nancy P. Williams at the Talcott Street Congregational Church. According to an 1880 Federal Census, Nancy was also mulatto. Nancy's father “lived in the family of Roger Williams of Rhode Island Golden Wedding Her grandfather Dudley Hays was a soldier in the American Revolution and at the Seymour golden wedding anniversary celebration he was given a ...

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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Carolyn Warfield

Union soldier, farm worker, and Union Army veterans' leader, was born Moses Fauntleroy, in Clarksville, Montgomery County, Middle Tennessee. He was one of ten children born to Emalina Fauntleroy. As the son of a slave woman, Moses was also born a slave. According to the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Moses asserted that his parents were born in Virginia; however, no name was given for his father.

An elderly Moses Slaughter of Evansville, Indiana, was interviewed for the Indiana Writers' Project, Slave Narratives, conducted by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in 1936–1938. The published interview is accessible in several formats, however, the descriptive source material has incorrect dates of certain events, likely due to an old man's declined health.

As the personal property of Joseph Murdock Fauntleroy, a prominent tobacco planter, the young Moses was separated from his family in 1854 when he ...