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28th Regiment USCT
Location: Virginia Avenue & McCarty Street, Indianapolis. (Marion County, Indiana)
Installed: 2004 Indiana Historical Bureau, Indiana War Memorials Commission, Andrew & Esther Bowman, and African American Landmarks Committee of Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana, Inc.
ID# : 49.2004.5
Indiana's only African-American Civil War regiment served as part of the 28th Regiment of U.S. Colored Troops. African-American infantry was authorized in 1863 to help fill federal quota for soldiers. The Reverend Willis Revels was recruiting officer. Recruits trained at Camp Fremont, established on land near here owned by Calvin Fletcher.
In April 1864, six companies were organized and activated. The 28th regiment served valiantly in the Battle of the Crater at Petersburg, Virginia on July 30, 1864, when nearly half of the men were killed or wounded. The 28th returned to Indianapolis January 6, 1866 to a reception in its honor; officers and men were discharged January 9.
African American, Military
Indiana's only African-American Civil War regiment served as part of the 28th Regiment of U.S. Colored Troops.(1) African-American infantry was authorized in 1863 to help fill federal quota for soldiers.(2) The Reverend Willis Revels was recruiting officer.(3) Recruits trained at Camp Fremont, established on land near here owned by Calvin Fletcher.(4)
In April 1864, six companies were organized and activated.(5) The 28th regiment served valiantly in the Battle of the Crater at Petersburg, Virginia on July 30, 1864, when nearly half of the men were killed or wounded.(6) The 28th returned to Indianapolis January 6, 1866 to a reception in its honor; officers and men were discharged January 9.(7)
(1)W.H.H. Terrell, Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Indiana, 8 vols. (Indianapolis, 1865-1869), 3:382-83, 1:81.
(2)Terrell, 3:382; Emma Lou Thornbrough, The Negro in Indiana: A Study of a Minority (Indianapolis, 1957; reprinted, 1985), 194-97; War Department to Morton, November 30, 1863.
On November 30, 1863, Indiana Governor Oliver P. Morton was authorized by letter from the U.S. War Department to raise one regiment of infantry composed of colored men. On December 3, 1863, general orders were issued by Indiana's adjutant general to begin accepting enlistments. On January 12, 1864, the War Department instructed Governor Morton that the regiment is to be known as the 28th Regiment of U.S. Colored Troops. War Department to Morton, November 30, 1863, Indiana State Archives; General Orders, December 3, 1863, Indiana Adjutant General, ibid.; War Department to Morton, January 12, 1864, ibid. Terrell, 7:660-82, provides a list of men enlisted in the 28th.
(3)Revels was pastor of the African American Methodist Episcopal Church in Indianapolis. Gayle Thornbrough, et al., eds. The Diary of Calvin Fletcher, 9 vols. (Indianapolis, 1972-1983), 8:3, 267-69.
Garland White came from Toledo, Ohio. He enlisted as a private but was later made chaplain of the 28th. During his service with the 28th, White wrote letters from the field to an African Methodist Episcopal Church newspaper called the Christian Recorder. These letters provide an intimate look at the service of the 28th. "Indiana's 28th Regiment: Black Soldiers for the Union." The Indiana Historian (February, 1994), 2; Special Order #364, October 25, 1864, Adjutant General, War Department, National Archives. Terrell, 3:379.
(4)Christian Recorder, February 13, 1864; Thornbrough, Negro in Indiana, 201. Calvin Fletcher was an Indiana state senator (1826-1833), lawyer, banker, farmer, and landowner. Thornbrough, Fletcher Diary, 1:xii. He was asked by Governor Morton, to "raise recruits" to meet Indiana's federal quota of 16, 000 men. Ibid., 8:238, 239.
Camp Fremont was named for John C. Fremont, explorer of what would become the western United States, 1856 Republican presidential nominee, and Civil War general. George P. Clark and Shirley E. Clark, "Heroes Carved in Ebony: Indiana's Black Civil War Regiment." Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History, Vol. 7, no. 3, (Summer, 1995), 7.
(5)Terrell, 3:382-83. Charles S. Russell of Indianapolis was given command of the regiment. Terrell, 3:379, 382. Although Terrell, 382, states the 28th left Indianapolis on April 24, 1864, there was a delay and the regiment actually left April 25, 1864. Indianapolis Daily Journal, April 25, 1864.
(6)Terrell, 3:382-83. Following the Battle of the Crater, the decimated ranks of the 28th were filled with recruits and four more companies were raised in Indiana and sent to the command making it a full regiment. Terrell, 3:382-83. The total number of African-American men raised in Indiana was 1, 537. Terrell, 1:81.
The Indiana Historian, 10-11 provides an account of the Battle of the Crater. Other engagements/duties of the 28th were at White House, Prince George's Court House, Hatcher's Run, and Richmond, Virginia and Indianola/Corpus Christi, Texas. Terrell, 3:383.
(7) Terrell, 3:383.