The Second Confiscation and Militia Act of 17 July 1862 section 12 allowed the president to permit African Americans to serve in the Union army and Navy for the United States during the Civil War. Section 15 of the act stated that persons of African descent, despite their rank, would receive a pay of $10 a month and $3 of which may go towards clothing. At the same time, white privates received $13 a month in addition to $3.50 for clothing. The discrepancy was settled by spring of 1865. By January of 1863, just 6 months later, 5 regiments of what would become the USCT were in service in SC, LA, and KS.
In all, around 175 regiments comprised of over 175,000 free blacks and freed slaves served from 1862 through the end of the war. Approximately 5,000 of these soldiers came from NC and 5 regiments were raised in North Carolina: The 35th U.S. Colored Infantry (organized February 8, 1864, from 1st North Carolina Colored Infantry), the 36th U.S. Colored Infantry (organized February 8, 1864, from 2nd North Carolina Colored Infantry), the 37th U.S. Colored Infantry (organized February 3, 1864, from 3rd North Carolina Colored Infantry), 14th U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery (organized in New Bern and Morehead City, NC 17 March 1864), and the 135th U.S. Colored Infantry (organized in Goldsboro, NC 28 March 1865)
Below are some sources for further reading. The books in this list are available here at the Government and Heritage Library.
- Black Soldiers in Blue: African American Troops in the Civil War Era by Dr. John David Smith
- United States Colored Troops, 1863-1867 by William A. Gladstone
- “Black Troops at Fort Fisher”. http://www.nchistoricsites.org/fisher/black-troops.htm (Fort Fisher Historic Site – Kure Beach, NC)
- “North Carolina Civil War Experience – Biographies – U.S. Colored Troops”. http://civilwarexperience.ncdcr.gov/biographies/usct.htm (N.C. Dept. of Cultural Resources)
- “Soldiers and Sailors Database” http://www.nps.gov/civilwar/soldiers-and-sailors-database.htm (National Parks Service)
- “United States Colored Troops” http://ncmuseumofhistory.org/wgo/podcasts.html#usct (podcast by Dr. John David Smith, author of Black Soldiers in Blue, Charles H. Stone Distinguished Professor of American History at UNC-Charlotte)
- “United States Colored Troops: Fighting for Freedom”. http://www.ncmuseumofhistory.org/collateral/articles/S11.usct.pdf (N.C. Museum of History)