Frequently Asked Questions
Question: How did you identify all of these men?
Answer: The USCT from Willamson County were primarily identified using their military service records on the website Ancestry.com. That database includes about half of all USCT regiments' records. The records have been indexed with the individual's place of birth if indicated on their enlistment papers. However, missing from the documents are the records of the 56th - 138th US Colored Infantry regiments. If you look at the database of men identified as being from Williamson County, you will note that only 30 local men have been classified as enlisting in the 56th - 138th US Colored Infantries. This does not mean that they did not enlist, but rather that they have not yet been identified. Researching these records requires searching page-by-page through each regiment in search of men who identified themselves as being born in Williamson County. Some other local men were identified through census and pension records.
The Navy sailors were easier to identify. Using the National Park Services' Soldier and Sailors Database, Civil War sailors can be sorted by birth state and city. Using these filters, 483 Tennesseans were identified as having enlisted in the Navy during the Civil War.
Question: Were there any Black troops who fought at the Battle of Franklin?
Answer: No. At the time of the Battle of Franklin on November 30, 1864, there were no US Colored Troop regiments in Franklin. There were several regiments of USCT troops in the region, but they were not involved in the fighting at the Battle of Franklin on that day. However, Black Federal soldiers were in Franklin the Spring before the Battle of Franklin and they were in Franklin a few weeks after the Battle of Franklin during Hood's Retreat following the Battle of Nashville (see this page for more information).
Question: What about Black Confederate Soldiers From Williamson County?
Answer. Some enslaved Black men were taken to War by Confederate soldiers but not as Confederate soldiers. Most of these Black men were taken to accompany the people who enslaved them to work in support positions for the Confederate Armies. These men served in ancillary positions like cooks, teamsters, and manual laborers. Sometimes they were referred to as body servants. Unlike the Black men who enlisted in the US Army's Colored Troops, there were no Confederate regiments comprised of Black soldiers. Additionally, unlike the Black men who served in the USCT or the white men who served in the Confederate Army, there are no enlistment papers or documents formalizing their contributions to the war effort. However, their stories and lives deserve to be recognized. Several dozen Black men from Williamson County who served the Confederate forces as body servants, cooks, and laborers have been identified and their names are cataloged in this blog post. Additionally, the United Daughters of the Confederacy have installed memorial pavers for them at Veterans Park. For more information on the topic of Black Confederates click here.
Question: Was the US Colored Troops the Same as the Buffalo Soldiers?
Answer: No. Following the successful creation of the US Colored Troops during the Civil War, Congress established the first peacetime all-Black regiments in the regular US Army in 1866. The Army was authorized to raise two regiments of Black cavalry and four regiments of Black infantry. The common belief is that many of the members of these regiments were veterans of the US Colored Troops. However, thus far, only one of Williamson County's more than 300 USCT veterans appears to have enlisted in a Buffalo Soldier regiment following his service in the Civil War. In fact, only three men from Williamson County have been identified who were Buffalo Soldiers - the most well-known was Sgt. George Jordan - the only person from Williamson County known to have received the Medal of Honor. You can read more about him here.
Question: How is the Slaves To Soldiers Project Related to the Fuller Story?
Answer: The Slaves to Soldiers Project and the Fuller Story Project are separate initiatives, with related goals. We collaborate and encourage each others' work, but are entirely distinct projects. The Fuller Story historic markers and statue bring awareness to and provide context regarding the Black men highlighted by the Slaves to Soldiers Project. You can learn more about their project here.