Note: What follows is a three part story, which we will present in consecutive blog posts, that permits us to see the history of central Virginia in a new way: with a focus on the journeys of African American men, born in the shadow of Jefferson’s Monticello, who fought for the Union army in the Civil War. These men represent the Virginia roots of thousands of U.S.C.T. soldiers, men who were dispersed by the system of slavery and then converged, during the war, in black regiments, and fought to save the Union and to end slavery.
Part I: Enlistment
Eighteen Albemarle-born African American men who were slaves of Thomas Jefferson’s descendants and of Jefferson’s extended family served together in Missouri U.S.C.T. regiments in the Civil War.
On December 7, 1863, Daniel W. Carter, 26 years old, fled the Missouri plantation where he was enslaved and made his way to the Union army recruiting station at Troy, Missouri, joining Company K of the 62nd U.S. Colored Troops. A few days later, he was followed by Robert Jackson and Lewis Carter, both age 21, Warner Carter (22), Winston Jackson (26), Spencer Scott (30) and Abner Watson (33), who enlisted at Troy on December 10, 1863, and were then mustered into Company A of the 65th U.S.C.T. at Benton Barracks, St. Louis on December 18, 1863. Robert, Winston, Spencer and Abner entered the enlistment rolls under the name “Carter” rather than with their original surnames; whether this was at the behest of the Union recruitment officers or the men’s own choice—and whether “Carter” was an alias or assigned name, rather than the family name, of others of these recruits—remains unclear.
The full article can be viewed on the John L. Nau II Center for Civil War History blog.