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United States Colored Troops Living History Association Hosts Annual Conference in Clarksville October 19th-21st

Clarksville Montgomery County Civil War - CW150 CommissionClarksville, TN – The United States Colored Troops Living History Association’s annual national meeting will be October 19th-21st in Clarksville, TN at Riverview Inn, 50 College Street.

The United States Colored Troops Living History Association is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to promote and accurately interpret the history of the United States Colored Troops of the American Civil War and those that supported their efforts to abolish slavery and preserve the Union and to educate the public and promote research of the history and legacy of those who served in the Civil War.

They serve as a support organization for United States Colored Troops (USCT) Organizations (reenactors and living history presenters) and assist them by marketing and publicizing their organizations’ contributions to recognizing and honoring our Civil War ancestors.

Events Include

  • Friday, October 19th – Re-enactors will visit local schools to talk about the role of USCT in the Civil War and to discuss the everyday life of Civil War soldiers. They will be at Northeast Middle and High schools at 9:00am and 10:00am, at Tabernacle Christian School at 11:00am, and at Rossview High School throughout the morning.
  • Friday, October 19th – Hari Jones, assistant director and curator of the African American Civil War Freedom Foundation and Museum, and Dr. David Slay, Civil War authority employed by the Vicksburg National Military Park, will both speak at a free reception at the APSU African American Cultural Center from 1:00pm to 2:30pm. Jones is one of the foremost authorities on the role of African Americans in the Civil War, and Slay manages the USS Cairo site at Vicksburg. Their talks are scheduled to begin at 1:15pm.
  • Saturday, October 20th – Civil War historian Dr. David H. Slay will speak on “United States Colored Troops in the Middle Mississippi Valley” in the afternoon session, which begins at 2:00pm in Montgomery Room of the Riverview Inn.
  • Saturday, October 20th – Hari Jones will be the keynote speaker for the convention banquet to be held at Morgan University Center on the campus of Austin Peay State University at 6:30 p.m.  Cost to attend the banquet is $25.00 a person ($20.00 for USCTLHA members) and is open to the public. Tickets may be purchased through the Clarksville-Montgomery County Arts and Heritage Development Council website, www.artsandheritage.us , through October 15th.
  • Saturday, October 20th – US Colored Troop re-enactors along with local Civil War re-enactors will gather at the APSU McCord parking lot (College Street) at 5:30pm to form a processional to the Morgan University Center for the banquet, which marks the conclusion of the conference.

Sponsors include: Mt. Olive Historical Preservation Society, Clarksville/Montgomery County Arts and Heritage Development Council, APSU Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society, Inc., Clarksville/Montgomery County Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, and the Office of APSU President Tim Hall.

About the Clarksville’s Civil War Involvement

Clarksville, a communication and transportation center, was strategically significant because of the Cumberland River and the Memphis, Clarksville and Louisville Railroad. The area’s rich agricultural produce—grain, livestock, tobacco, and corn—and the products of its iron industry reached the nation and world via these transportation assets. Three forts, including Forts Donelson and Defiance on the Cumberland River, protected this pro-Confederate town and many of Clarksville’s residents rushed to join Southern military units.

After the surrender of Fort Donelson in February 1862, however, Union gunboats and troops from Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s army occupied Clarksville. Federal control proved tenuous. The Confederates briefly reclaimed the town in August 1862; it returned temporarily to Union control in September 1862. The Federals occupied Clarksville permanently in December 1862 when Col. Sanders Bruce’s brigade took charge of the town and Fort Defiance, which was renamed Fort Bruce.

Clarksville became a gathering place for white Unionists and escaped slaves who were housed in tobacco warehouses along the river and near Fort Bruce. Eventually more than 3,000 refugees converged on the town, outnumbering local residents.

Union forts became magnets for runaway slaves seeking freedom and protection. Due to confusion in laws, some officers kept the slaves in camp, while others returned them to their masters. Slaves who stayed were called “Contrabands.” Men worked on Union fortifications or drove supply wagons. Women cooked, washed clothing and repaired uniforms. Forced labor became paid labor as the war progressed.

“Negroes of every description are coming in to the Yankees … recruiting among the men is going as rapidly as could be desired. The Regiment … will soon be filled.” ~ Serepta Jordan on the formation of the 16th USCT, January 24th, 1864.

One Man’s Story

Andrew Jackson Kendrick, born a slave in 1836, fought in the battle of Nashville. He returned home to New Providence, attended school, and later made his living teaching others to read.

“I slipped off and joined the war because I wanted to help us get out of bondage.” ~ Andrew Jackson Kendrick

In 1863, after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, the Federals began to recruit free blacks and former slaves for military service. Some 1,800 joined the Federal army and were inducted into the 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, and 101st U.S. Colored Troops in ceremonies on the Clarksville public square.

– Taken from “Clarksville in the Civil War,” Civil War Trails Marker


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