Something for Black Wisconsin to be proud of… here’s a brief history lesson of what your people have done for this country and some recognition is more than deserved on this day.


On March 26, 1963, Secretary of War issued an order directing adjutant general Lorenzo Thomas to organize black regiments in the Mississippi Valley.  On May 22, the War Department established a Bureau of Colored Troops to handle the recruitment, organization and service of the newly organized black regiments commanded by white officers. The 29th Infantry Regiment was formed in Quincy IL.

Company F, 29th Infantry Regiment U.S. Colored Troops of the, 2nd Brigade, 4th Division, 9th Corps of the Army of the Potomac was
the Wisconsin Contingent of the 29th.  The men of Company F served with distinction and valor on behalf of Wisconsin, seeing action in the Battle of the Crater, the Petersburg Campaign, the Bermuda Hundred Campaign, The Richmond Campaign, the Appomattox Campaign and the Rio Grande Campaign.  A small number of surviving members of Company F returned without fanfare to live and work the remainder of their lives in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin supplied one unit of black soldiers to the Union Army, Company F of the 29th Infantry, U.S. Colored Troops. Although credited to Wisconsin for recruiting purposes, most of Company F was actually raised in Illinois and Missouri, its soldiers taking the places of white Wisconsin residents who would otherwise have been drafted. Company F of the 29th arrived in Petersburg, Virginia, on July 22, 1864, in the heat of battle; 11 of its 85 men died the first week.

The roster of company F., 29th Infantry, U.S. Colored Troops, is online at Turning Points in Wisconsin History, as is a biography of the commander of the 29th Infantry, U.S. Colored Troops.

In the course of the war, many liberated slaves joined Wisconsin troops in the field and some came north with them when the war ended. In all, 353 black soldiers served in Wisconsin units. Read an interview with one of them, Peter Thomas of Racine, in our Local History & Biography Collection.

Rosters of all Wisconsin units and a summary of what happened to each one during the war are online at Turning Points in Wisconsin History, and you can view pictures of Wisconsin troops at Wisconsin Historical Images.