U.S. Colored Troops Muster in New Bern
On June 30, 1863, the 35th United States Colored Troops regiment officially mustered in New Bern. The organizing and recruitment of North Carolina’s African-American troops had already been underway for nine months.
In July 1862, Congress issued a Second Confiscation and Militia Act. The act allowed President Abraham Lincoln to use as many African-Americans as he deemed necessary to suppress the South, and to use them in whatever way he thought best to accomplish that end. The use and treatment of African-Americans varied, and men were frequently assigned fatigue duty rather than combat. However, Lincoln did authorize African-Americans to assume combat roles in the January 1863 Emancipation Proclamation.
That May, General Orders No. 143 established a Bureau of Colored Troops and all future regiments would be designated as United States Colored Troops. North Carolina units began organization under the Corps D’Afrique designations and as state-named regiments, but entered into service as United States Colored Troops designations.
Other related resources:
- Celebrate Black History! from the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources
- A History of African Americans in North Carolina from N.C. Historical Publications
- Resources related to black history from the State Library
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