3rd US Colored Infantry
The 3rd US Colored Infantry was organized at Camp William Penn, near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from August 3-10, 1863. Ordered to Dept. of the South. Attached to 4th Brigade, Morris Island, S. C., 10th Corps, Dept. of the South, to November, 1863. 3rd Brigade, Morris Island, S. C., 10th Corps, to January, 1864. Montgomery's Brigade, District of Hilton Head, S. C., 10th Corps. to February, 1864. 2nd Brigade, Vodges' Division, District of Florida, Dept. of the South, to April, 1864. District of Florida, Dept. of the South, to October, 1864. 4th Separate Brigade, District of Florida, Dept. of the South, to July, 1865. Dept. of Florida to October, 1865.
SERVICE: The regiment participated in the Siege of Forts Wagner and Gregg, Morris Island, S. C., August 20-September 7, 1863. Action at Forts Wagner and Gregg August 26. Capture of Forts Wagner and Gregg September 7. Operations against Charleston from Morris Island till January, 1864. Moved to Hilton Head, S. C., thence to Jacksonville, Fla., February 5-7, and duty there as Heavy Artillery till May, 1865. (1 Co. at Fernandina, Fla.) Expedition from Jacksonville to Camp Milton May 31-June 3, 1864. Front Creek July 15. Bryan's Plantation October 21. Duty at Tallahassee, Lake City and other points in Florida May to October, 1865. Mustered out October 31, 1865.
Pvt. Alfred Fields, b. 1839
Recruitment of Black Men in Philadelphia, July 1863
Enlistment in the 3rd US Colored Infantry.
Muster and Service.
Fighting at Fort Wagner.
Service in Florida.
Presentation of Regimental Flag.
Yesterday afternoon the Third Colored Regiment, now steamped at Camp William Penn on Chelton Hill, about eight miles from the city, and half a mile from the North Pennsylvania Railroad, were the recipients of a large and handsome American flag, presented to them by the Committee who were instrumental in raising the regiment.
The occasion was celebrated by a flag raising, at which speeches were made by GEO. H. EARLE, Esq., and Judge KELLEY.
A special team left the depot of the North Pennsylvania Railroad at 3 1/2 P.M., consisting of fourteen cars well loaded with colored persons, and among tham a sparking of white ladies and gentlemen, all bent on witnessing the ceremony. A band, composed of colored musicians, escorted the excursion party.
Shortly after the arrival of the excursion train at Chelton Hill, the regiment was formed and taken to an adjoining field, where they were put through a series of field maneuvers, which were executed with commendable promptness and witnessed by about fifteen hundred spectators, comprising all colors, ages and sexes.
After an hour spent in drilling the regiment, they were marched to the camp-ground near by, and formed into a hollow square around a lofty flag-pole, at the peak of which the emblem of our nationality was destined to float to the breeze. About 5 1/2 o'clock the raising of the flag took place, the colored band attached to the regiment playing the "Star-Spangled Banner." Immediately afterward Col. LEWIS WAGNER, the commander of the camp, mounted a rough stand, and proposed three cheers for the Star-Spangled Banner, which were given by the regiment with a will.
Mr. GEORGE H. EARLE then mounted the stand, and proceeded to address the regiment and concourse of visitors who were present.
MR EARLE's SPEECH.
Mr. EARLE said he felt very happy to say a few words on this occasion, but was unable to say all he felt. He informed those assembled that they stood on consecrated ground -- that had witnessed a struggle during the Revolutionary war. The inspiration of the present moment is as from Heaven, and like the voice of the Great Creator, for it is the day that tells us that America is calling into the service all her servants for the purpose of protecting her nationality, regardless of color.
Your enemies in the North opposed sending you to the field, but no men are more respected than you when under arms. Your enemies have said you would not fight. Have you not fought already? We knew what you could do, and therefore did not think it necessary to search history to prove any of your deeds. Not a farmer in the neighborhood complains of any improper conduct on the part of any of you. Nothing has been destroyed while you have been encamped here, and you have conducted yourselves with entire propriety. Show me another regiment that can say as much.
At Milliken's Bend your brethren fought well and reflected honor on you; the same can be said of the conduct of the colored troops at Morris Island. Their Colonel said, "Take that battery." and it was taken. A colored man bore the colors in the fight, and faced all dangers presented to him. Baton Rouge was another example of the bravery of colored troops.
Why should you not fight? Are not your hearts in the present struggle? Are you not fighting for the freedom of your own race? You fight for the principles of PATRICK HENRY, "Give me liberty or death."
The speaker felt that the men before him would do all in the line of duty that the Committee who raised the regiment expected of them. Fifteen months ago the creation of a negro regiment would have caused a riot in the city, but public opinion was changed, and officers and men are respected now. The speaker then paid a glowing tribute to the American flag. After some further remarks, in the course of when he urged the members of the regiment to perform all services required of them, Mr. EARLE retired with applause.
A number of cheers were given by the regiment at the conclusion of Mr. EARLE's remarks, after which Judge KELLEY stepped forward for the purpose of saying a few words.
JUDGE KELLY's SPEECH.
He said he had come for the purpose of speaking, but simply to witness the proceedings of the day, and what he had to say should be made very short, as he was anxious to witness the battalion firing of the regiment with blank cartridge. He had, however, a very important secret to impart to the white people present, and that was that JOHN BROWN's soul was matching on, and, with the help of God, it would continue to do so, and that with the aid of soldiers of African descent, the flag that now floated proudly above their heads would soon wave over a country in which there were nothing but free men. He told the regiment that they had redeemed their race in Philadelphia from a prejudice that had long existed against them, and that prejudice was that the colored race were a race of cowards. You must show the world that the free men of African descent in the North can fight as well as their slave brethren in the South have done. You are to proceed to Florida, and the Colored race are to make that State a Free State of our Union.
As soon as you leave for the seat of war, another regiment will be formed on the ground you now occupy, and they will soon follow you to fight for your race. The black man is to make Florida free, and if France attempts to create an empire on this continent, the tropical regions of the country was swarm with legions of black men, who will frustrate any attempt on the part of European potentates to carry out any of their schemes on this continent.
Letter to the Editor of the Christian Recorder newspaper
Slaves to Soldiers Blog Post about Pvt. Alfred Fields, 3rd US Colored Infantry
Bates, Samuel P. History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-65, Harrisburg, 1868-1871.