102nd Regiment United States Colored Troops
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|102nd Regiment United States Colored Troops|
|Active||1863-1864 (as 1st Michigan)
May 23, 1864—September 30, 1865 (as 102nd USCT)
Battle of Honey Hill
The 102nd Regiment United States Colored Troops was an African American infantry unit of the Union Army during the American Civil War. The unit was organized as the 1st Michigan Colored Volunteer Infantry Regiment before being redesignated as the 102nd Regiment USCT.
The 1st Michigan Colored Infantry was formed on February 23, 1863, after an editorial and letter writing campaign by Henry Barns, an editor for the Detroit Tribune and Advertiser. Barns was commissioned the regiment's first colonel for his efforts; he maintained this post until voluntarily stepping down in favor of a regular army officer. Lt. Colonel Newcomb Clark was the later commander of the 102nd USCT. He was promoted to Brevet Colonel, Oct. 30, 1865, for Distinguished and meritorious conduct in the field.
The regiment was organized at Camp Ward, located on a farm in Detroit. Eight-hundred and forty-five men from Detroit, southern Michigan, and Ontario, Canada, volunteered for the regiment. Some of these early volunteers were escaped slaves from the Underground Railroad, and some were fighting to free their family members who may have still been in slavery. Of these early volunteers, 72 were living in Canada where they were free men. It took enormous courage for these black men to cross over to the US and fight for freedom for slaves.
During training, a regimental band was formed which toured to recruit more volunteers. The regiment also had artillery and cavalry elements. On May 23, 1864, the unit was redesignated the 102nd Regiment United States Colored Troops.
The regiment was formed from August through September of 1863, a year of draft riots and protests against the war. Mustered in as the 102nd US Colored Troops on February 17, 1864, the 900 man unit left Detroit on March 28, 1864. The regiment was composed entirely of volunteers, of which almost 10 per cent of the men died during the nineteen months the regiment was in the field. The 102nd Regiment fought throughout South Carolina, eastern Georgia and Florida. The infantry was assigned to the fort at Port Royal where they served as the second line of defense. In Baldwin, Florida, 21 miles away from Jacksonville, the unit was attacked suddenly by a Confederate cavalry force. The soldiers easily defeated the Confederates, which proved to their officers that they were just as skilled and reliable as any other infantry. In Manchester the regiment and the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry succeeded in an attack on the flank of Confederate forces, putting them in disorder. Then the regiment was attacked by 200 Confederates and caused many casualties to the enemy. The Confederates came to a truce and there Generals Robert E. Lee and Joseph E. Johnston had surrendered; the war was over after that.
This was the regiment's last battle; they served occupation duty until they were called together and were mustered out of service on September 30, 1865. The regiment returned to Detroit were they were disbanded on October 17, 1865.
Strength and casualties
The total enrollment in the 102nd Regiment was 1446; 6 people were killed in action, 5 people died of wounds, and 129 people died of disease.
- Alkalimat, Abdul (2004). The African American Experience in Cyberspace. Pluto Press.
- Brennan, James. First Michigan Colored Regiment. Available online at http://www.michmarkers.com/startup.asp?startpage=S0288.htm, 1991–2007
- Cahill, Edward F., and Henry Barnes. Edward F. Cahill Collection. 1863. This collection is made up of letters and documents related to Edward F. Cahill's involvement with the 102nd United States Colored Infantry Regiment during and immediately after the Civil War. Included are 3 contracts made between freedmen and their former owners near Edisto River and Orangeburg, South Carolina, in 1865.
- Dunn, William. A History of the First Michigan Colored Regiment. Thesis (M.A.)--Central Michigan University, 1967, 1967.
- First Michigan Colored Regiment. Sponsored by the Detroit Branch, Association for the Study of Negro Life and history. Historic plaque located on the grounds of Duffield Elementary School, the original site of Camp Ward, Detroit.
- Harvey, Don & Lois. 1st Regiment Michigan Volunteer Infantry. Available online at
- MacRae, Cordella, Emma Ribbron, and Doris Byrd. Civil War Veterans of the 102nd United States Colored Troops, the First Michigan Colored Regiment, Buried in Elmwood Cemetery, Detroit, Michigan. [Detroit, Mich.] (5201 Woodward Ave., Detroit 48202): Fred Hart Williams Genealogical Society, 1990.
- Nelson, Wilbur, and Gaylord Nelson. Wilbur Nelson. 1864. This collection consists of Nelson's war diaries, several transcriptions, a narrative describing Nelson's war experiences, and a muster roll. Nelson wrote his diaries in shorthand. Included are his original diary for 1864, typed and handwritten transcriptions of the 1864 diary, and a typed transcription of Nelson's diary for 1865 (the original is not included in the collection). The narrative, written by Nelson's grandson, Gaylord Nelson, is based on Wilbur Nelson's diary for 1863 and his correspondence (which are not included in the collection). The muster roll for Company J, 102nd Regiment, U.S. Colored Troops, dated February 14, 1864, lists the name, age, and rank of Nelson's soldiers.
- Sleight, William E., David D. Anderson, and Jno Robertson. Lieutenant William E. Sleight and the 102nd Regiment, U.S. Colored Infantry, in the Civil War. East Lansing, Mich: Midwestern Press, the Center for the Study of Midwestern Literature and Culture, 2003.
- Smith, Michael O. The First Michigan Colored Infantry A Black Regiment in the Civil War. Thesis (M.A.)--Wayne State University, 1987, 1987.
- United States, and Kenneth L. Cole. Join and Support the First Michigan Colored Infantry Volunteers. Lansing, Mich: First Michigan Colored Infantry Volunteers, 1987.