Friday, January 07, 2011

Hampton University receives US Colored Troops Archives

NOTE from DearMYRTLE: Today's email brought this announcement to my attention. For more information about The Bennie McRae Jr. Collection please contact:

Dr. William Harvey, President
of Hampton University (right) and Bennie J McRae Jr.(left)



Civil War Historian Bennie J. McRae Jr. donates comprehensive archive on the history of the US Colored Troops

Hampton, Virginia, November 19, 2010 ….It was announced today that noted historian and author Bennie J. McRae Jr. has donated his archives on the African American military experience to Hampton University, located in Virginia. The centerpiece of McRae’s collection is the history of the Union Army’s United States Colored Troops that served in the Civil War. The scope of this extensive collection features on-line histories of the men and women who served or supported the Union military.

Dr. William Harvey, President o Hampton University remarked, “The Bennie McRae Jr. Collection is a landmark contribution to the memory of the United States Colored Troops. No longer will their strategic importance to the Union Army’s victory be a footnote in the history of the Civil War.”

The Bennie McRae Jr. archives will be accessible to historians, researchers and the general public. McRae’s donation to Hampton University is believed to be one of the world’s largest repository concerning the history of the US Colored Troops in the Civil War.

Bennie McRae Jr’s body of work spans twenty years of research. His sterling body of work is taken from the Official Records of the Union and Confederate armies, Civil War archives, field studies, and donations from noted historians like William Gladstone. The collection chronicles the active service of black soldiers, and sailors beginning in 1862 and the fascinating histories of the female and male black contrabands whose service as spies, guides,scouts, nurses and cooks in the Union Army. McRae corrects the mistaken belief that the majority of the African American military originated in the North.Instead, his research attests that the majority of the US Colored Troops came from the secession and border-states of the South. The largest numbers were from Louisiana.

Our Civil War memory often slants to the battlefields and Union and Confederate generals in Upper and Middle South. McRae’s archives present a more thorough and balanced history of the black military in all regions of the Civil War. They testify to the bravery of the legendary First Kansas Colored in Indian Territory, the first blac kunit to engage the Confederates (Bates County, Missouri); the Third United States Colored Cavalry assault on the Black River Bridge, Mississippi, described as “one of the most daring and heroic of the war”; and the First South Carolina Volunteers engaged in expeditions withthe 48th New York Infantry in1862; and the First Louisiana Native Guards, the first regiment mustered into the Union Army.

The collection draws onboth Union and Confederate reports of the US Colored Troops and their strategicimportance in the Union victory at the Battle of Nashville, the Siege ofVicksburg, the Battle of Port Hudson, Milliken’s Bend. It reports on Virginia’s25th US Army Corps, Army of the James,the only Corps in the history of the Army made up entirely of Black infantryregiments Comprised of 30 US ColoredTroop regiments, it is noted for its bravery in the Union victories atPetersburg, Richmond and Appomattox.

McRae stated, “I am delighted andoverjoyed to have this collection accepted by the prestigious HamptonUniversity. My archives will be preserved and made available to students,researchers and the general public.”

Historian andauthor, Bennie J. McRae Jr. was born in Louisville, Alabama now lives inTrotwood, Ohio.  A veteran of the UnitedStates Air Force, he served for four years in the Korean War. McRae is an internationally recognized scholar on the USColored Troops and historian on the black American Military experience. He wasa consultant to Australian Television’s broadcast, "Black Soldier Blues" documenting the African-American military in Australia andthe South Pacific. He is the co-author of"Nineteenth Century Freedom Fighters" centered on the 33rdRegiment, United States Colored Infantry in South Carolina, commanded byLieutenant Colonel Charles Tyler Trowbridge. McRaeis the founder of Lest We Forget, anonline resource documenting America’s centuries-old black military experience.

BennieJ. McRae Jr. is a member of the American Legion, lifetime member of theVeterans of Foreign Wars, and a proud associate member of the Sons of UnionsVeterans of the Civil War.


  1. Bennie J, McRae Jr. is an amazing contributor to the canon of African Ancestored history, especially when it comes to our collective military history. The man is simply brilliant.

    I'm happy to see him featured here. He's a mentor to me. He simply speaks the truth. I'm happy to see that his works are finally getting the recognition - and attention - that they deserve.

    This is a proud moment for African Ancestored Genealogy and American Civil War history.

    Peace & Blessings
    "Guided by the Ancestors"

  2. Dear Myrtle,

    Thank you for this posting and the news of Mr. McRae's donation of his collection of African American military history to Hampton University.

    I have been a user/benefactor of Mr. McRae's research efforts over the past 15 years thru his website "Lest We Forget". Any researcher of American military history, particularly African American military history and the USCT's in the Civil War will be more than pleasantly surprised at the depth and magnitude contained in Mr. McRae's collection.

    What a timely posting with the CW150 Sesquecentennial programs and celebrations beginning this year in 2011.

    Thank You Dear Myrtle, Hampton University and Mr. Bennie J. McRae, Jr.