5th US Colored Heavy Artillery

OVERVIEW: Organized from 1st Mississippi Heavy Artillery (African Descent). Designated 4th Heavy Artillery March 11, 1864, and 5th Heavy Artillery April 26, 1864. Attached to 1st Division, United States Colored Troops, District of Vicksburg, Miss., to February, 1865. Unattached, Post of Vicksburg, Dept. of Mississippi, and Dept. of the Gulf to May, 1864.

SERVICE: Garrison duty at Vicksburg, Miss., till May, 1866. Expedition from Vicksburg to Rodney and Fayette September 29-October 3, 1864. Expedition from Vicksburg to Yazoo City November 23-December 4, 1864. Mustered out May 20, 1866.

Predecessor unit: MISSISSIPPI VOLUNTEERS. 1st REGIMENT HEAVY ARTILLERY (AFRICAN DESCENT). Organized at Vicksburg, Miss., September 26, 1863. Attached to post of Vicksburg, District of Vicksburg, Miss., to March, 1864. Unassigned, 1st Division, U.S. Colored Troops, District of Vicksburg, to April, 1864. SERVICE: Post and garrison duty at Vicksburg, Miss., till April, 18

Despite being primarily a Mississippi organized and based regiment, some members enlisted in Kentucky and Ohio - including Anderson Draper from Williamson County. The new recruits were transferred to join the regiment in Vicksburg, Mississippi. The 5th Colored Heavy Artillery operated the large siege artillery pieces at earthworks scattered around Vicksburg, the former Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River.

Lost during service 4 Officers and 124 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 697 Enlisted men by disease. Total 829.

Two men from Williamson County served in the 5th US Colored Heavy Artillery regiment:

  • Pvt. Anderson Draper was born around 1841 in Williamson County. According to his obituary in 1899, "He was a slave and came into the Union lines when the Army of the Cumberland advanced into Mississippi. After the battle of Shiloh he was employed as a servant by the late Col. I.N. Alexander of the 46th O.V.I and came with Col. A. to Van Wert [Ohio]. Afterwards he volunteered [on February 10, 1865 in Lima, Ohio] and served one year in a colored regiment. " Draper was described in his military record as a shoemaker. He mustered out on Feb. 9, 1866 at Vicksburg, Mississippi. According to his obituary, "At the close of the war he came back here and earned a respectable livelihood by doing shoe repairing. He was the counsellor of his race in this community, loved and respected by all who knew him. Funeral was held from the African Methodist church Wednesday afternoon. Interment took place in Woodland."

  • Pvt. John S. Hayes was born around 1837 in Williamson County. He enlisted in Company C on November 15, 1864, at Vicksburg, Mississippi. He was described as a waiter. During the war, he served as a messenger at a telegraph office and as an orderly in the Quartermaster Department. He mustered out with his regiment. In October 1869 he opened a Freedmen's Bank Account in Vicksburg, MS. In 1870 he was working as a boat hand in Vicksburg. In 1892 he filed for a pension. He died in 1907 and was buried in the Vicksburg National Cemetery.

John S. Hayes

Freedmen's Bank Account, Vicksburg, MS 1869

John S. Hayes


Photo Credit: Becky Dennis

An unidentified United States Colored Troop/Artillery regiment at Battery Sherman, Vicksburg, Mississippi. The 5th US Heavy Artillery was one of several African-American regiments that served in Vicksburg during the period of occupation after the siege in July 1863.

Library of Congress

African American Troops repelling the Confederate attack on Milliken's Bend

Harpers Weekly

Battle of Milliken's Bend.

The 5th USCHA was involved in the Battle of Milliken's Bend on June 7, 1863, as part of the Vicksburg Campaign. Despite having only just been organized, the 5th USCHA were sent to fight. Sgt. Jack Johnson of Company B's actions that day were remembered by Lt. David Cornwell. He said that Jackson, "Laid into a group of Texans... smashing in every head he could reach", and that, "Big Jack Jackson passed me like a rocket. With the fury of a tiger he sprang into that gang and crushed everything before him. There was nothing left of Jack's gun except the barrel and he was smashing everything he could reach. On the other side of the levee, they were yelling 'Shoot that big [soldier]!' while Jack was daring the whole gang to come up and fight him. Then a bullet reached his head and he fell full on the levee."

The fight at Milliken's Bend cost the US Forces 652 men: 101 killed, 285 wounded, and 266 missing. Many of the missing men were Black USCT soldiers who had been captured and returned to slavery. All but 65 of the Union casualties at Milliken's Bend were Black. Neither of the two Williamson County USCT who served in the 5th USCHA were involved that day. were incurred by the Colored Troops

Fun Fact

Gabriel Young escaped bondage in Mason County, Kentucky for Ohio at the outbreak of the Civil War. In the town of Ripley, he enlisted with Company F, Fifth United States Colored Heavy Artillery on February 12, 1865. At the time of his enlistment, Gabriel Young was married with a one-year-old son named Sam. Years later, Sam Young would become the third black graduate of West Point, the first black U.S. military attaché, and the highest-ranking black officer in the Regular Army until his death. Unlike the two black graduates before him, Young went on to a long military career, eventually achieving the rank of colonel. After Young, 47 years passed before another Black cadet graduated from West Point.