United States Colored Regiment
© Alice J. Gayley, all rights reservedThis regiment was recruited for the most part in Pennsylvania, and was organized at Camp William Penn, in February, 1864, with the following field officers:Colonel Scroggs was ordered by the President to proceed with his regiment to Indianola, Texas, and there recruit three other regiments from among the freedmen, which should with his own, constitute a brigade, of which he was to be appointed Brigadier General. Accordingly, the Colonel sailed with the right wing of the regiment on the 15th of March, for New Orleans, on the steamer Suwanee, with orders to report to General Banks.
- Gustavus A. Scroggs, Colonel
- Frederick L. Hitchcock, Lieutenant Colonel
- James W. H. Reisinger, Major
In a storm off Hatteras, the steamer sprung a leak. The water rose to within a foot of the fires, although the ship's pumps were in active operation. The men were put to work with buckets, and after thirty-six hours of the most strenuous and incessant exertions to keep her afloat, she was brought into the harbor of Beaufort, North Carolina, where she was abandoned. This threw the battalion under the command of General Wessels, at a time when the enemy was closely pressing the siege of Little Washington, and it was immediately ordered into the defenses. Here it was kept upon the front until the emergency had passed, when it was sent forward to its destination, arriving about the 1st of May.
In the meantime the left wing, under command of Lieutenant Colonel Hitchcock, had proceeded without detention, and on its arrival at New Orleans, had encamped at Carrolton, a few miles above the city. The regiment arrived in New Orleans, during the progress of the Red River campaign, which having ended in disaster, so modified the situation of affairs, that General Banks, who was in command of the department, refused to allow the regiment to go forward to Indianola. Colonel Scroggs, thereupon resigned, and Lieutenant Colonel Hitchcock was promoted to succeed him, Major Rieisinger to Lieutenant Colonel, and Captain Boudren to Major.
The regiment was then sent to Barrancas, Florida, where it relieved the Seventh Maine, and was charged with garrison duty. Colonel Hitchcock, with six companies, was ordered with regimental headquarters to the command of the post of Barrancas. Barracks, including Fort Barrancas, and the adjoining fortifications, where his men were drilled in infantry and heavy artillery service, in both of which they became proficient.
Lieutenant Colonel Reisinger, with four companies, was detached, and placed in command of Fort Pickens, commanding the entrance to Pensacola Harbor.
During the Mobile campaign, which was inaugurated in January, 1865, it was ordered to report to General Pile, for immediate service in the field, it being the purpose of the Government to organize an entire division of colored troops. It was here associated with the " Old New Orleans First," composed principally of Creoles of wealth and standing. But before arrangements had been perfected for taking the field, the enemy threatened a counter movement against Pensacola, and it became necessary to strengthen the defenses, and put the forts in a condition to withstand the siege. It was accordingly deemed inexpedient to relieve the Twenty-fifth, for a regiment inexperienced and undrilled in garrison duty, and hence it did not take part in the active operations in the field, which were soon after inaugurated.
During the spring and summer of 1865, the men suffered terribly from scurvy, about one hundred and fifty dying, and as many more being disabled for life. The mortality at one time amounted to from four to six daily. This was the result of want of proper food. Urgent appeals were made by the officers in command; but not until the disease had run its course, were these appeals answered.
The regiment remained on duty at the forts until December, when it was ordered to Philadelphia, and on the 6th, at Camp Cadwalader, was mustered out of service.
The flag which the regiment carried, was painted by a colored man in Philadelphia. It represented a Freedman in the foreground, the shackles of his bondage having just fallen from his ankles, in the act of stepping forward eagerly to receive the musket and uniform of his country's defenders which the Goddess of Liberty is presenting to him. After the return of the regiment to Philadelphia, and at the close of its last parade through the streets of that city. this flag was presented by Colonel Hitchcock, to the Union League Association of Philadelphia, George H. Boker, Esq., the poet, receiving it on behalf of the League, and responding to the language of the Colonel in an eloquent and impressive manner.
In regard to the character of the Twenty-fifth, Colonel Hitchcock says:"I desire to bear testimony to the esprit du corps, and general efficiency of the organization as a regiment, to the competency and general good character of its officers, to the soldierly bearing, fidelity to duty, and patriotism of its men. Having seen active service in the Army of the Potomac, prior to my connection with the Twenty-fifth, I can speak with some degree of assurance. After a proper time had been devoted to its drill, I never for a moment doubted what would be its conduct under fire. It would have done its full duty beyond question. An opportunity to prove this the Government never afforded, and the men always felt this a grievance."Source: Bates, Samuel P. History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-1865, Harrisburg, 1868-1871.
Organized at Philadelphia, Pa., January 3 to February 12, 1864.
Sailed for New Orleans, La., on Steamer "Suwahnee" March 15, 1864 (Right Wing).
Vessel sprung a leak off Hatteras and put into harbor at Beaufort, N. C.
Duty there in the defences, under Gen..Wessells, till April,
then proceeded to New Orleans, arriving May 1.
Left Wing in camp at Carrollton.
Attached to Defences of New Orleans, La., Dept. of the Gulf, May to July, 1864.
District of Pensacola, Fla, Dept. of the Gulf, to October, 1864.
1st Brigade, 3rd Division, U.S. Colored Troops, Dept. Gulf, October, 1864.
1st Brigade, District of West Florida, to January, 1865.
3rd Brigade, 1st Division, U. S. Colored Troops, District of West Florida, to February, 1865.
1st Brigade, 1st Division, U.S. Colored Troops, District of West Florida, to April, 1865.
Unattached, District of West Florida, to July, 1865.
Dept. of Florida, to December, 1865.
Duty in the Defences of New Orleans, La., till July, 1864.
Garrison at Post of Barrancas, Fla. (6 Cos.), and at Fort Pickens,
Pensacola Harbor (4 Cos.), till December, 1865.
Mustered out December 6, 1865.
Source: Dyer, Frederick H. A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion Compiled and Arranged from Official Records of the Federal and Confederate Armies, Reports of he Adjutant Generals of the Several States, the Army Registers, and Other Reliable Documents and Sources. Des Moines, Iowa: The Dyer Publishing Company, 1908
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