Black Floridians and the Civil War: Pension Records of the 21st, 33rd, and 34th United States Colored Infantry Regiments.

Finding Aid

Collection Number: M12-7
Dates: [ca.1864-1931]
Size: 3 linear feet
Repository: Special Collections, Thomas G. Carpenter Library, University of North Florida.
Arrangement: Alphabetical.
Language: English
Container List: View Container List

Abstract

The Northeast region of Florida has an extensive and rich military history, from its discovery and settlement by the Spanish and French, its occupation by Union troops four different times during the U.S. Civil War, its important military role during both World Wars, and currently, home to two Naval Stations. During the Civil War, black soliders from Florida played a significant role in the Union Army as part of the Colored Infantry Regiments. The Collection's primary source materials provide historical evidence and documentation of the military service and daily lives of these Civil War veterans and, by extension, military activities in the region.

 

The core of the collection are selective copies of primary documents from the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) regarding pension claims from the Civil War Veterans, their widows, and other relatives.The majority of the holdings are copies of legal forms, affidavits and transcriptions, which were collected and edited by University of North Florida (UNF) history students as supporting materials for the website: Florida History Online: Black Floridians and the Civil War: the 21st, 33rd, and 34th United States Colored Infantry Regiments. Florida History Online is a digital archive of textual and visual documents of Florida history produced by UNF students and faculty under the direction of Professor Emeritus of History Dr. Daniel L. Schafer.

Acquisition

Donation of Professor Emeritus of History Dr. Daniel L. Schafer.

Access to the Collection

The collection is open for research. For additional information and to make an appointment to view the collection, contact (904) 620-1533 or e-mail lib-special@unf.edu.

Preferred Citation

Black Floridians and the Civil War: Pension Records of the 21st, 33rd, and 34th United States Colored Infantry Regiments. Thomas G. Carpenter Library, University of North Florida.

Additional Guides

Collection materials were used as supporting documents and research materials for the website: Florida History Online. 

 

General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934. U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.

Microfilmed Compiled Military Service Records of Volunteer Soliders who served during the Civil War. U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.

Related Materials

CIVIL WAR IN FLORIDA 

 

Ash, Stephen V. Firebrand of liberty : the story of two Black regiments that changed the course of the Civil War. New York : W.W. Norton & Co., c2008.

 

Higginson, Thomas Wentworth. Army Life in a Black Regiment, and other writings. New York: Penguin Books, 1997.

 

Higginson, Thomas Wentworth. The Complete Civil War Journal and Selected Letters of Thomas Wentworth Higginson.  Edited by Christopher Looby. Chicago : University of Chicago Press, c2000.

 

Resources in Special Collections: The Civil War in Northeast Florida. The Guide lists general monographs, maps, theses and dissertations, video recordings and provides links to web resources and sites.

 

Schafer, Daniel L. Thunder on the river : the Civil War in northeast Florida. Gainesville : University Press of Florida, 2010.

 

War-time letters from Seth Rogers, M.D. Surgeon of the First South Carolina afterwards the thirty-third U.S.C.T. 1862-1863. From the website: Florida History Online. 

Historical / Biographical Note

The Northeast region of Florida has an extensive and rich military history, from its discovery and settlement by the Spanish and French, the occupation of Jacksonville by Union troops during the U.S. Civil War, its important military role during both World Wars, and currently, home to two Naval Stations. During the Civil War, Union forces occupied Jacksonville on four different occasions and remained in control until the end of the war and occupied several coastal towns and various places along the St. Johns River. The Battle of Olustee, fought in nearby Baker County in February 1864, was the largest Civil War battle fought in Florida. Battle casualties amounted to 1,861 Union and 946 Confederate soldiers, a total which reflected the hard-fought Confederate victory. An annual reenactment of the Battle is held every February at the State Park.

 

History of the 21st, 33rd and 34th United States Colored Infantry Regiments (from the website, Florida History Online):

  • In 1860, enslaved African Americans numbered nearly 62,000, or forty-four percent of the 140,424 residents of the State of Florida. During the Civil War thousands of enslaved Floridians escaped from their owners and found refuge in the Union-occupied towns of Fernandina, Jacksonville, St. Augustine, and Key West, where they were considered “contraband of war” and were not returned to their former owners. They found work on the abandoned plantations in the area controlled by Union forces, built fortifications, worked as teamsters for the Federal troops. As soon as Union policy permitted, more than 1000 self-liberated men from northeast Florida farms and plantations who settled into the swelling refugee camps outside the coastal towns, began joining three Union regiments organized at Hilton Head, South Carolina. Known originally as the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd South Carolina Loyal Volunteers, these regiments were officially mustered into the Union Army as the 33rd, 34th, and 21st regiments of United States Colored Infantry. For the remainder of the war these once-enslaved black men fought to free their families and other African Americans from bondage, and to bring a permanent end to slavery in the United States of America. By the end of the Civil War, 186,017 African American men from all over the divided nation had enlisted as “Colored Troops” in the Union army.  

Historical importance and research use of the records (from Florida History Online):

  • The pension records for veterans of the United States Colored Infantry regiments represent a valuable yet under-utilized source of historical information about the lives of black Americans when they were enslaved, when they were in the Union army, and during the postwar years when they were trying to build new lives and create new identities as free black American citizens.... Those who view this web page will be able to search for genealogical information, medical records, slave treatment, black life in the army during the war, occupational adjustments after the war, and the other important themes that can be explored in the pension records. The history of these black veterans can be found in the pages of the files that contain reports of the vigorous investigations done by special examiners and the detailed medical examinations given by physicians. 

Scope and Content Note

The core of the collection are copies of primary documents from the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) regarding applications for Union army veteran's pensions submitted from veterans of the United States Colored Infantry regiments, their widows, and other relatives. The bulk of the materials are concentrated in the late nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries. The majority of the holdings are copies of legal forms, affidavits, and transcriptions, which were collected and edited by University of North Florida (UNF) history students as supporting materials for the website: Florida History Online. Florida History Online is a digital archive of textual and visual documents of Florida history produced by UNF students and faculty under the direction of Professor Emeritus of History Dr. Daniel L. Schafer.

 

NOTE: This Collection is a selective group of records, and it does not contain all the documentation for the names and regiments that are listed on the Florida History Online website. Alternately, the Collection contains several names and records not included on the website. The website also has a separate link to the 8th United States Colored Infantry Regiment (with roster, maps, photos, and statistics), none of which is available in this Collection. 

Index Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection:

 

  • African American soldiers -- History -- 19th century.
  • Jacksonville (Fla.) -- History, Military -- 19th century.
  • Saint Johns River Region (Fla.) -- History, Military -- 19th century.
  • Florida -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865.
  • United States. -- Army. -- African American troops. -- History. -- 19th century.
  • United States. -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865. -- Participation, African American.