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Marking History: US Colored Troops in Wilmington National Cemetery

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Our area is rich in Civil War history, but there’s a part of that history that isn’t so widely known.

Fred Johnson has something great to stare at here Market Street in Wilmington. Outside the Wilmington National Cemetery stands a plaque honoring the US Colored Troops buried here. It’s a fact not known by many here in Wilmington.

“We have children, grandchildren and others that don’t know that this will be a teaching experience for them,” Johnson said. “They too can remember and have something to look back on.”

There are about 500 Colored Troops who fought for the Union Army, died here and are buried here. You can see the USCT marking on their graves. But they weren’t recognized until Johnson fought for their cause. He lobbied the state Historical Marker Program to consider this piece of history, and in 2011 the new marker was unveiled.

“I was so happy,” Johnson said. “It was a joyful time for me to have been present to hear the announcement. I came home, and I couldn’t wait to get home to start making phone calls.”

Thanks to Johnson and his committee and their years of hard work, now one part of history won’t go unnoticed. That’s something everybody can be proud of.

The United States Colored Troops accounted for about one tenth of the Union Army during the Civil War, although they were commanded by white officers.

If you know of a historical marker or piece of history you’d like to see showcased, shoot Tim Buckley an e-mail at tbuckley@wwaytv3.com.

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