The Twenty-Eighth United States Colored Troops: Indiana's African Americans go to war, 1863-1865

William Robert Forstchen, Purdue University


The purpose of this study is to provide an in depth examination of the social and military history of the 28th United States Colored Troops (USCT). The 28th USCT was recruited out of Indiana starting in December 1863 and was born out of the complexities of an evolving redefinition of what the Civil War was being fought about. Through an examination of the historical record of the 28th USCT one can trace as well the changing beliefs and values northern society was undergoing both during the war and afterwards. By following the experience of the 28th USCT in the field one can also evaluate the role of black units in the Union Armies of the Potomac and the James and in particular the controversy surrounding the use of these troops at the Battle of the Crater, fought on July 30, 1864. This study is also a means to examine the social conditions of the men serving with the 28th USCT and provide as well some broader insights into the African-American experience during and after the war. Through the examination of regimental muster rolls, regimental records and post war pension records a statistical model has been developed to provide information regarding occupations, literacy, health, and migration both pre and postwar. Due to the composition of the 28th it is also possible to provide cross-studies between free blacks living in Indiana and those living in Maryland and Delaware. This study is intended as an examination of one African-American regiment during the Civil War, and to serve, as well, as a companion piece to a number of broader studies that have recently been published.




Rothenberg, Purdue University.

Subject Area

American history|Black history

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