A Regiment of Slaves


A Regiment of Slaves

The 4th United States Colored Infantry, 1863-1866

Edward G. Longacre

242 pages
28 illustrations, 6 maps


December 2011


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eBook (EPUB)
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January 2015


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About the Book

The 4th United States Colored Troops (USCT) regiment saw considerable action in the eastern theater of operations from late 1863 to mid-1865. The regiment—drawn largely from freedmen and liberated slaves in the Middle Atlantic and New England states—served in Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Butler’s Army of the James, whose mission was to capture the Confederate capital at Richmond. From May to December 1864, the 4th saw action in the Bermuda Hundred and Richmond-Petersburg campaigns, and in early 1865 helped capture the defenses of Wilmington, North Carolina, the last open seaport of value to the Confederacy.

Citing recently discovered and previously unpublished accounts, author Edward G. Longacre goes beyond the battlefield heroics of the 4th USCT, blending his unique insights into political and social history to analyze the motives, goals, and aspirations of the African American enlisted men. The author also emphasizes how these soldiers overcame what one of their commanders called “stupid, unreasoning, and quite vengeful prejudice” and shows how General Butler, a supporter of black troops, gave the unit opportunities to prove itself in battle, resulting in a combat record of which any infantry regiment, black or white, could be proud.

Author Bio

Edward G. Longacre is the author of twenty-four books on the Civil War, including Fitz Lee; Gentleman and Soldier, winner of the Douglas Southall Freeman History Award; and The Cavalry at Gettysburg, winner of the Fletcher Pratt Prize. All three are available in Bison Books editions.


“For cavalry and/or Gettysburg enthusiasts, this book is a must; for other Civil War buffs, it possesses the qualities sought by students of the conflict. . . . The author’s graphic recountings of the Virginia fights at Brandy Station, Aldie, Middleburg, and Upperville, the Pennsylvania encounters at Hanover, Hunterstown, Gettysburg, and Fairfield, and finally the retreat to Virginia, are the finest this reviewer has read under a single cover.”—Civil War Times Illustrated

“A much-needed, long overdue piece of the complex mosaic which makes up the Gettysburg story. No Civil War library should be without it.”—Military Images

Table of Contents

One: For Freedom and Union
Two: Off to the Wars
Three: Willing Hearts and Strong Hands
Four: Errands of Destruction
Five: Error and Redemption
Six: Heat! Dust! Flies!
Seven: "Boys, Save the Colors!"
Eight: Seaside Excursion
Nine: Like Lords and Conquerors
Ten: The Last Long Year

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