51st US Colored Infantry

The 51st USCI served in various posts in the Department of the Gulf and fought in the Battle of Fort Blakely as part of the Pensacola Column and the assault and capture of Fort Blakely on April 9, 1865.

OVERVIEW: Organized March 11, 1864, from 1st Mississippi Infantry (African Descent.) Attached to Post of Goodrich Landing, District of Vicksburg, Miss., to December, 1864. 1st Brigade, 1st Division, United States Colored Troops, District of Vicksburg, Miss., to Feburary, 1865. 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, Steele's Command, Military District of West Mississippi, to June, 1865. Dept. of the Gulf to June, 1866.

SERVICE: At Lake Providence till May, 1864. Post and garrison duty at Goodrich Landing, La., till December, 1864. Action at Langley's Plantation, Issaqueena County, March 22, 1864. Flod, La., July 2. Waterford August 16-17. Duty at Vicksburg, Miss., till February, 1865. Moved to Algiers, La., February 26; thence to Barrancas, Fla. March from Pensacola, Fla., to Blakely, Ala., March 20-April 1. Siege of Fort Blakely April 1-9. Assault and capture of Fort Blakely April 9. Occupation of Mobile April 12. March to Montgomery April 13-25. Duty there and at Mobile till June. Ordered to New Orleans, thence to Texas. Duty on the Rio Grande and at various points in Texas till June, 1866. Mustered out June 16. 1866.

Predecessor unit: MISSISSIPPI VOLUNTEERS. 1st REGIMENT INFANTRY (AFRICAN DESCENT). Organized at Milliken's Bend, La., and Vicksburg, Miss., May 16, 1863. Attached to African Brigade, District of Northeast Louisiana, to July, 1863. Post of Vicksburg, District of Vicksburg, Miss., till March, 1864. SERVICE: Duty at Milliken's Bend, La., till July 1863. Action at Milliken's Bend June 7, 1863. At Vicksburg, Miss., till March, 1864. Action at Ross' Landing, Grand Lake, February 14, 1864. Designation of Regiment changed to 51st U.S. Colored Troops March 11, 1864.

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

Harpers Weekly

Battle of Milliken's Bend.

The 51st USCI 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 51st USCI were sent to fight. Sgt. Jack Johnson of the 5th USCHA'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. re

Two men from Williamson County have been identified as having served in the 51st USCI:

  • Pvt. Samuel Hinckley [Hinkling] was born in Williamson County in 1825. He enlisted in Company F on November 30, 1864 in St. Louis, Missouri. He was a 36-year-old laborer. His enlistment documents initially identified him as being born in Mississippi but his Freedman’s Bank account document identified him as being from Williamson County. He served as a substitute for a white man named Joseph Bohan Jr. who was drafted in Monroe Co. Pvt. Hinkling only served one year and mustered out Nov. 29, 1865 in New Orleans, Louisiana. He opened a bank account on September 18, 1868 in New Orleans. In that document, he identified himself as a veteran of the 51st USCI and said that he was single with three children (James, Smith and Sam) in Tennessee. He was working as a "contractor on the levee." Pvt. Hinckling appears to have married a woman named Maria. When he died around 1892 she filed a pension application as his widow.

  • Pvt. Alexander Gordon was born in Spring Hill, Williamson County in 1828. He enlisted in Company I on March 11, 1865 in Providence, Alabama. He was a 37-year-old laborer. Pvt. Gordon died from drowning in Red River on Dec. 23, 1865. No burial information has been located.