African American Soldiers in the Civil War Highlighted at CSS Neuse Program

USCT re-enactor at Fort Fisher.

African Americans were ready to fight for freedom when the Civil War started, and before it ended they were recruited to take up arms. The CSS Neuse Civil War Interpretive Center will explore that process in the program, “African American Troops in Eastern North Carolina,” followed by a Wyse Fork Battlefield tour Saturday, Feb. 2, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Lunch and Learn program fee is $10.


The Black History Month presentations will feature historian Chris Meekins, N.C. Office of Archives and History, at 11 a.m.; and Earl Ijames, curator, N.C. Museum of History, at noon.  


Meekins will speak on the recruitment of the African Brigade in New Bern in 1863; the Brigade was one of the first raised for the Union Army that sanctioned African American service in the army. He will address Gen. Wild’s 1st N.C. Colored Volunteers (NCCV) who along with soldiers from the 55th Massachusetts were reinforcements for Union forces in an attack on Charleston.


Curator Earl Ijames, N.C. Museum of History, will speak on the 36th U.S. Colored Troops (as they were then called) and the 135th U.S. Colored Troops. The 36th USCT evolved from the African Brigade in New Bern. The 135th USCT was created in Goldsboro in March 1865, two days after the Battle of Bentonville.


Learn more about black soldiers’ recruitment, training and missions at this program, have a boxed lunch and take a tour of the battlefield around Kinston. Reservations required.  For reservations or information contact, or call (252) -526-9600 ext. 222.


The CSS Neuse is the only remaining commissioned Confederate ironclad above water. It was part of a new technology that the Confederacy used to combat the superior manpower and firepower of the Union Navy. Learn about this technological advance and warfare in eastern North Carolina at the CSS Neuse Civil War Interpretive Center. The Confederate Navy launched the CSS Neuse aiming to gain control of the lower Neuse River and New Bern, but ultimately destroyed the vessel to keep it out of Union hands.


The CSS Neuse Civil War Interpretive Center is located at 100 N. Queen St., Kinston, N.C., and open Tuesday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission: adults $5, senior/active military $4, Students (ages 3-12) $3, ages 2 and under free.


The CSS Neuse Center is within the State Division of Historic Sites, and along with the Division of State History Museums and the Office of Archives and History are part of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.


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