During the Civil War, African American war correspondent Thomas Morris Chester was so inspired by the men of the 36th United States Colored Troops that he declared the group to be ""a model regiment."" Composed primarily of former slaves recruited from Union-occupied areas of eastern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia, the 36th USCT participated in large-scale expeditions to liberate slaves, guarded Confederate prisoners at major POW camps, served in the trenches before Petersburg and Richmond, and stood as one of the first units to enter the abandoned Confederate capital on April 3, 1865. This volume, which includes a complete regimental roster, explores the background of these former slaves and their families, examines their initial recruitment and chronicles their military contributions throughout the war. More than a unit history, the story of the 36th USCT offers a vivid portrait of the challenging transition from slavery to freedom.
James K. Bryant, II, is an associate professor of history at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Virginia. A former National Park Service historian, he is the author of two books on Civil War history.