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Living history event Saturday at Germanna’s Locust Grove Campus: “Black Heroes of the Civil War”

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The Germanna Community College Black History Month series “Heroes of the Civil War” will kick off from 10 a.m. to noon this Saturday, Feb. 11 at the Locust Grove Campus with a Living History event featuring the 23rd Infantry Regiment, United States Colored Troops. Reenactors will talk with attendees about what the war was like for those troops.

Germanna history faculty member James Price will discuss and sign copies of his new book, “The Battle of New Market Heights: Freedom Will Be Theirs by the Sword,” which details one of the most important moments in U.S. African-American military history.

It’s free and open to the public.

Every schoolchild knows of Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant.

Perhaps one in 200 knows of Col. Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment, portrayed in the 1989 film “Glory.”

Hardly anyone has heard of Andrew Weaver or Pvt. George Washington and their unit, the 23rd Infantry Regiment, United States Colored Troops.–Clint Schemmer, The Free Lance-Star

Read Clint Schemmer’s article, “This story has been left out of Civil War history.”

The battle resulted in the first Medals of Honor—the nation’s highest awards for valor—being issued to black soldiers. Of the 18 Medals of Honor received by black soldiers in the war, 14 were awarded for what one eyewitness called “unflinching heroism” in the attack upon New Market Heights. (Two white officers also received the medals.)

Black troops, who were shunned by many whites in their own army, went into the battle with a lot to prove. Failure in battle meant death; the Confederate secretary of war had said former slaves serving as Union soldiers were subject to execution if captured.

–Clint Schemmer


 Read Clint Schemmer’s story about James Price’s new book on black soldiers in the Civil War.

More on Germanna’s “Heroes of the Civil War” Black History Month series: