Discovery of a 25th Rgt Colored Troops Cemetery

By | February 15, 2019

[February 15, 2019]  I’m no historian, and the subject of history was one I hated in school.  Only later in life did I realize that the proper study of our history can teach valuable lessons long after an event occurred.  Two years ago I moved to Southern New Jersey.  Driving around the rural part of the state, only a few miles from my home, I found what appeared to be an abandoned U.S. Civil War cemetery with grave markers indicating Co. B, 25th Rgt. Col. Troops.

A small cemetery, with about a dozen graves, is at the corner of two roads; near the Garden State Parkway.  Local veterans’ clubs and community groups have put time and money into the cemetery to keep the weeds out and to show some respect for those buried in those graves.1 Still, it was a surprise to me, as I passed by yesterday for probably the 100th time that the grave markers indicate these were soldiers in Co. B (Company B), 25th U.S. Colored Troops (USCT).2

What little we know about this regiment was that it was created in Philadelphia because the state of New Jersey had no “colored” units.  Early in 1864, when the unit was created, the outcome of the war was still undecided.  Would the U.S. split into two parts; a southern, slave-owning country and separate from the north?  Or would the “united states” remain as one?

Creation of “colored” units in the U.S. Army began in January 1863, after President Abraham Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation.  In his proclamation, all slaves in rebellious areas would be free as of January 1, 1863.  The U.S. War Department issued a General Order on May 22, 1863, establishing the Bureau of Colored Troops to facilitate the recruitment of African-American soldiers to fight for the Union Army.3

What I did not know was that approximately 175 colored regiments made up more than 178,000 free blacks and freedmen serving the last two years of the war.  This effort bolstered the Union forces and by the end of the war, “colored” units made up nearly one-tenth of all Union troops.

While disease caused most fatalities during the war, I found it amazing that almost 20% of all African-American troops enrolled in the Army lost their lives.  This is especially notable, given that this is a casualty rate far below white soldiers.

Causes of the U.S. Civil War are complex.  But these soldiers and sailors fought in America’s greatest struggle against slavery.  They are honored for their sacrifice and devotion to a moral cause; one that no one should ever forget.  The men of the 25th Rgt were a part of this great effort.

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  1. https://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/communities/absecon_galloway_port-republic/port-republic-civil-war-veterans-graves-remnants-of-black-settlement/article_e94fedd6-8ce7-11e1-aaf3-0019bb2963f4.html
  2. https://usct.weebly.com/25th-usct.html
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Colored_Troops
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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

19 thoughts on “Discovery of a 25th Rgt Colored Troops Cemetery

  1. Greg Heyman

    Another good article. TGIF everyone. Enjoy your weekend and if possible, be on the lookout for things hiding in plain site just like the Civil War cemetery.

  2. Janna Faulkner

    Great article today that kept my interests!
    It is always a pleasure to read about what is happening in other communities to respect our veterans.

  3. Danny Burkholder

    Looks like some folks are on top of this. But like Max said below, there is always the possiblity that someone can slip up or a problem unexpectedly occurs and the cemetery slips back into oblivion. Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen. All cemeterys should be respected.

  4. Max Foster

    The article in your local press was “Port Republic Civil War veterans’ graves — remnants of black settlement — should not be forgotten, local groups say”. The good news is that there are people locally who seem to be on top of the problem with the cemetery is disrepair. It reminds me of the problem that occured at Arlington cemetery in our nations capital where they lost records (on paper) about who was buried where. Too bad that even with well-funded efforts and high visibility that things can go wrong quickly.

    1. Dale Paul Fox

      Let’s hope much more is done. The local Jewish War Veterans Post 39 are on it and that is great news. Hope they keep it up. On another note, I wonder if this group is an off-shoot of GAR Post 39 Joe Hooker?

    2. Lynn Pitts

      Key info in the article “We were bothered by what we saw,” said Stern, 85, who served in the Army during World War II. The Egg Harbor Township resident had stumbled upon a cemetery that holds the remains of six black Civil War veterans. They are all related, and they founded a small settlement in the area before the Civil War.

  5. Doug Smith

    Well done! This is the kind of thing that keeps our lives interesting and educated at the same time. Perhaps you can get a local Vet club like the VFW or Amer Legion to help out.

  6. Gil Johnson

    Gen. Satterfield, wow!! Are you going to do something to help cleanup the cemetery or at least help others do so? What can be done to bring this cemetery to light in your community?

    1. Douglas R. Satterfield Post author

      Gil. Great question and I asked myself the same thing. What to do is not easy. Who or what assn owns the cemetery? Are people already doing work there or planning to? I will be looking into it over the next several months and will give an update here. Thanks for asking.

      1. Eric Coda

        Good to see you are on top of this. I look forward to the update. It is shameful that any cemetery would go unattended, much less a Civil War cemetery.

  7. Army Captain

    This was a pretty cool find of yours. From what I saw in articles, not much has been done to keep the cemetery clean. Very unfortunate. Those who fought in our wars, regardless of their job, deserve great respect from us all.

    1. Georgie M.

      You are absolutely correct that ‘respect’ is the key here. Those who do not respect others thatput their lives in danger to protect us (like police, firemen, etc), need to take a trip down to where these folks work and see what the real world is like.

    2. Nick Lighthouse

      I couldn’t agree with you more, Army Captain. Thanks for all you do.

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