61st US Colored Infantry
Historic Marker dedicated on June 18, 2021 on the Madison County Courthouse lawn, Jackson Tennessee.
Battle Unit Details
Predecessor unit: TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS. / 2nd REGIMENT INFANTRY (AFRICAN DESCENT). Organized at LaGrange, Tenn., June 30, 1863. Attached to 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, 16th Army Corps, Dept. of the Tennessee, to November, 1863. Post of Corinth, 2nd Division, 16th Army Corps, to January, 1864. 1st Colored Brigade, District of Memphis, 16th Army Corps, to March, 1864.
SERVICE: Post and garrison duty at LaGrange and Moscow, Tenn., till January, 1864. Skirmish at Moscow December 3, 1863 (Detachment). Wolf Bridge, near Moscow, December 3-4. Ordered to Memphis, Tenn., January, 1864, and post and garrison duty there till March, 1864. Designation of Regiment changed to 61st United States Colored Troops March 11, 1864.
On September 16, 1863, the Headquarters 2nd Division, XVI Corps, at La Grange, Tennessee, ordered the Commanding Officer of the 1st Brigade: “The 2nd West Tennessee (African Descent) will proceed to Moscow, Tennessee to relieve the 7th Iowa Volunteers.”
On October 31, 1863, a report from C. W. Foster, Assistant Adjutant General for Volunteers listed the 2nd Tennessee Volunteers (African Descent) under Lieutenant Colonel Foley, with 610 men. On the same date, the regiment was reported in the 2nd Brigade. Colonel Elliott W. Rice, Left Wing, XVI Corps, with a note that the regiment was detached at Moscow.
In December 1863 at Moscow, Tennessee, the 61st USCI caught General Stephen D. Lee’s Confederate cavalry trying to rip up the railroad near the Wolf River. On December 3, 1863, the town of Moscow, TN was attacked by Lee's Confederate cavalry and Brigadier General James R. Chalmers' forces . They were driven off by the Federal cavalry under Colonel E. Hatch. The following day the 61st USCI was involved in a skirmish at Wolf River Bridge, where they thwarted attempts by Lee's Confederate cavalry to burn the railroad bridge over the Wolf River.
On December 31, 1863, the regiment, still at Moscow, was reported as part of the forces in the District of Corinth, under Brigadier General John D. Stevenson.
By January 31, 1864, the regiment was at Memphis, where, with the 1st Alabama and the 1st Tennessee (African Descent), they constituted the 1st Colored Brigade, under Colonel James M. Alexander.
The designation of the regiment was changed to the 61ST USCI in March/April 1864.
On April 30, 1864, Colonel Edward Bouton was in command of the 1st Colored Brigade, at that time consisting of the 5th and 61st Regiments and Battery “F” of the 2nd U. S. Colored Light Artillery. Bouton’s Brigade took part in the expedition under Major General Andrew J. Smith into North Mississippi July 5-21, during which the battle of Harrisburg took place on July 14. The brigade was only partially engaged on the 14th, but on the day preceding was under constant harassment by the Confederate forces. Colonel Bouton reported: “I think the work done by my brigade in the rear of the column on the 13th was a severe test of the soldierly qualities and powers of endurance of my men. We moved at 4:00 A.M., marched twenty miles, and went into camp at 9:00 P.M., 17 hours under arms without rest.” In this campaign the regiment lost one officer, seven men killed; four officers, 28 men wounded; 16 missing. It returned to Memphis on the 22nd of July.
When General Nathan B. Forrest made his raid into the city of Memphis on August 21, 1864, his men surprised and overran a detachment of the 61st, under Captain Charles R. Riggs, which was camped a few miles outside Memphis. The detachment consisted of five officers, 200 men, of whom Captain Riggs reported only one-third were fit for duty. In the affair three men were killed, eight wounded, and five missing. During the course of the raid, Colonel Kendrick of the 61st was wounded.
The 61st was part of Major-General A. J. Smith's Expedition to Tupelo, Mississippi July 5–21, 1864. On July 13, as part of the rearguard of Smith's column, they were involved in an engagement known as Camargo's Cross Roads (aka Burrow's Shop). The next day at Harrisburg, near Tupelo, Mississippi, the regiment participated in the Union victory over confederate forces under Major-General Nathan Bedford Forrest at the Battle of Tupelo. In this campaign, the 61st lost one officer and seven enlisted men killed, with four officers and 28 enlisted men wounded and 16 enlisted men missing.
Most of the regiment participated in Smith's expedition to Oxford, Mississippi, August 1–30, 1864, and the regiment saw action at Waterford, Mississippi August 16–17, 1864 and at Castpool. A detachment of five officers and 200 enlisted men under Captain Charles Riggs, which had stayed behind during the Oxford expedition, was camped near Memphis and surprised and overrun by Forrest's troops at the Second Battle of Memphis on August 21, 1864, losing three men killed, eight wounded, and five missing.
On September 30, 1864 the regiment, along with the 120th Illinois, and Company “G”, 2″d Missouri Light Artillery, all commanded by Colonel George B. Hoge, left Memphis on a transport, and proceeded via Cairo, Illinois, to Johnsonville, Tennessee, arriving October 4, 1864. From here they proceeded upstream to Eastport, Mississippi, where, on making a landing on October 10, they were attacked by Confederate forces under Colonel D. C. Kelley, 3rd (Forrest’s Old) Tennessee Cavalry. The Gunboat Undinewas disabled, the transports Aurora and Kenton were set on fire, a battery of four guns lost, and the landing repulsed. Colonel Hoge, in his report, commended Lieutenant Colonel Foley, commanding the 61st, as a brave and efficient officer. The 61st lost 18 killed, 21 wounded, three missing. The expedition returned to Johnsonville on October 11, and subsequently the 61st returned to Memphis.
On December 31, 1864, in the organization of the Post and Defenses of Memphis, Colonel Kendrick, of the 61st, was given command of the 1st Colored Brigade, composed of the 55th, 59th and 61st Regiments, with the 61st commanded by Lieutenant Colonel John Foley. On January 7, 1865, the brigade was called the 2nd Colored Brigade, and the 46th Regiment added.
The regiment was ordered to New Orleans, Louisiana, February 23, 1865 and attached to the 1st Brigade, United States Colored Troops, District of Morganza, Dept. of the Gulf, to April, 1865. On February 23, 1865, all of the brigade except the 59th, were ordered to New Orleans, Louisiana, where Brigadier General T. I. McKean was in command of the District of Morganza. At this time the regiment reported 724 effectives, 817 aggregate present and absent. Colonel Kendrick commanded the 1st Brigade, composed of the 61st, 65th and 67th Colored Regiments.
On March 17, 18645 the 61st was ordered to Fort Barrancas, near Pensacola Florida.
From there on April 7, 1865 it was ordered to join the division of Colored Infantry stationed near Blakely, Alabama. It did not actually move until April 15, by which time Mobile had fallen. On April 30, 1865, the 61st was reported in the 1st Brigade, 1st Division U. S. Colored Troops, in the U. S. Expeditionary Force commanded by Major General Frederick Steele.
The regiment was attached to the 1st Brigade, 1st Division, United States Colored Troops, District of West Florida, to June, 1865. Dept. of Alabama to December, 1865.
SERVICE: Post and garrison duty at Memphis, Tenn., till July, 1864. Smith's Expedition to Tupelo, Miss., July 5-21. Camargo's Cross Roads July 13. Tupelo July 14-15. Old Town Creek July 15. Smith's Expedition to Oxford, Miss., August 1-30. Repulse of Forest's attack on Memphis, Tenn., August 21. Near Memphis August 24. Eastport October 10. Moscow Station December 2-3. Duty at Memphis till February, 1865. Ordered to New Orleans, La., February 23; thence to Morganza, La. Ordered to Barrancas, Fla., March 17. Ordered to Blakely, Ala., April 15. Duty there and in the District of Alabama till December. Mustered out December 30, 1865.
Regiment lost during service 1 Officer and 37 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 2 Officers and 316 Enlisted men by disease. Total 356.
Eleven Williamson County men enlisted in the 61st USCI. All of them were born in Williamson County. They ranged in age from 18 to 45.
National Park Service, Battle Unit Details
Tennessee Virtual Archive, Muster Roll of Company F, 2nd West Tennessee Infantry Regt, African Descent, 18 December 1863
Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area: Fayette County's African American Soldiers During the Civil War: The 59th and 61st USCT