2nd Regiment South Carolina Volunteer Infantry (African Descent)

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2nd Regiment South Carolina Volunteer Infantry (African Descent)
Flag of South Carolina.svg
South Carolina state flag
Active May 22, 1863 to February 8, 1864
Country United States
Allegiance United States of America
Union
Branch Infantry
Equipment Rifled muskets
Engagements Raid at Combahee Ferry
Burning of Darien, Georgia

The 2nd Regiment South Carolina Volunteer Infantry (African Descent) was an African-American infantry regiment that served in the Union Army during the American Civil War. It was among the scores of units raised starting in the middle of the war to augment Federal troop strength by tapping into the large Southern population of former slaves. The regiment and its white commander gained notoriety for its actions during the controversial looting and burning of the pro-Confederate town of Darien, Georgia.[1]

The regiment and its role in burning Darien are featured in the 1989 Civil War film Glory.

Service[edit]

In January 1863, Col. James Montgomery of Kansas was authorized to raise a regiment of troops consisting entirely of free blacks and refugee former slaves, which were to serve under white officers. While many men readily agreed to military service, dozens were compelled by the Army to obey conscription notices.[2]

Montgomery organized the 2nd South Carolina Volunteer Infantry at Beaufort and Hilton Head, South Carolina. The new recruits were mustered into Federal service on May 22, 1863. Under Montgomery, discipline was initially lacking, and the regiment was destined to see little formal combat. The 2nd was attached initially to the Districts of Hilton Head and Beaufort, S.C., Tenth Army Corps, Department of the South.[3]

Throughout 1863 and part of 1864, Montgomery practiced his Jayhawker brand of irregular warfare in South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. In June 1863, Montgomery's brigade, including the 2nd South Carolina and the 54th Massachusetts Infantry under Col. Robert Gould Shaw, participated in operations along the Atlantic Coast resembling his earlier Jayhawking raids in Kansas and Missouri. The 2nd South Carolina was a part of the Raid at Combahee Ferry in which 800 slaves were freed. The regiment later helped loot and burn the coastal town of Darien, Georgia, despite the fact that it was undefended and offered no resistance.[citation needed]

In July 1863, the 2nd and the rest of Montgomery's brigade moved to Morris Island off the South Carolina coast. They took part in the expedition to James Island from July 7–17, and skirmished with Confederates at Grimball's Landing on July 16. The 2nd participated in the siege operations on Morris Island against Forts Wagner and Gregg from July 18 until September 7, when the Confederate defenders abandoned the two forts and withdrew.[4]

The 2nd South Carolina was involved in the subsequent operations against Fort Sumter and the defenses of Charleston until January 29, 1864. It moved to Hilton Head, and then to Jacksonville, Florida, on February 5–7.[3]

While in Florida, the regiment was disbanded and subsequently reorganized as the 34th Infantry Regiment, U.S. Colored Troops on February 8, 1864. Many of the men from the old 2nd South Carolina later participated in the Battle of Honey Hill. They were mustered out of the army on February 28, 1866.[5]

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