2 West Point alumni launch effort to honor first Black US soldiers of the Civil War

Posted By Bill Payer on Sep 8, 2022 | 0 comments

That’s the headline over a fascinating story in the Post & Courier highlighting how two men discovered the role of the Civil War’s 1st South Carolina Infantry in the early attempts to integrate the U.S. Army.

BEAUFORT — When they were students at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in the 1970s, Ben Hodges and Chris Allen learned a lot about the country’s various armed engagements.

Many years later — after Hodges retired as a three-star lieutenant general of the Army, after Allen retired from a career in the Special Forces — they discovered a void in their knowledge of U.S. military history.

No one told them much about African American contributions before World War II. Those contributions dated to the Colonial period and, given the widespread and profound impacts of the institution of chattel slavery, were quite significant.

They learned that Black people fought on both sides of the Revolution, but mostly on the British side since a Patriot defeat would have spelled the end of slavery. They learned that Black people fought in the War of 1812, often hoping to take advantage of an offer by the King to relocate to England and be free. And some participated in the 1846-48 expansionist Mexican-American War.

But such service was sporadic, often frowned upon by White leaders, and not always officially sanctioned.

Then they learned about the 1st South Carolina Volunteer Infantry, organized in Beaufort in 1862.

“This marks the beginning of continuous service by African Americans in the U.S. Army,” Hodges said. And that service was high-risk and noteworthy. To read the rest of the story, CLICK HERE. Non subscribers may encounter a paywall.

The Camp Saxton site, which is part of the Reconstruction Era National Historical Park, interprets the history of Civil War military enterprise, including the formation of the 1st South Carolina Volunteer Infantry. Rich Condon/National Park Service/Provided Rich Condon/National Park Service/Provided

To learn more about the Reconstruction National Historic Park, CLICK HERE

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