Wisconsin Historical Society

Historical Essay

Co. F of the 29th Infantry, U.S. Colored Troops History

Wisconsin Civil War Regiment

Co. F of the 29th Infantry, U.S. Colored Troops History | Wisconsin Historical Society
EnlargeFull-length portrait of Sargeant Major Meekins. Co. "K" 36th U.S. Colored Troops.

Sargeant Major Meekins

Full-length portrait of Sargeant Major Meekins. Co. "K" 36th U.S. Colored Troops. View the original source document: WHI 33590

Co. F of the 29th Infantry, U.S. Colored Troops, was the only African American Civil War unit credited to Wisconsin. During the war, each state was required to supply a quota of soldiers. In order to meet those quotas, states were allowed to pay volunteers to serve in place of people drafted.

Co. F, 29th U.S.C.T., was composed primarily of black soldiers who agreed to take the place of white Wisconsin residents. Most of its men were from Illinois or Missouri. A handful of Wisconsin African Americans, such as Sgt. Alfred Weaver, a former slave living in Vernon County, also joined Company F. Some members of Co. F from other states settled in Wisconsin after the war.

Co. F saw action mostly late in the war, during the Petersburg Campaign and the Appomattox Campaign, June 1864-April 1865. It arrived in Petersburg, Virginia, on July 22, 1864, in the heat of battle. Eleven of its 85 men, including its white colonel, died the next week in the famous Petersburg Mine Assault, or Battle of the Crater. Some of its members witnessed the surrender of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee to Union commander Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, on April 9, 1865.

[Source: Klement, Frank. Wisconsin in the Civil War (Madison, 1956); Memorial of Colonel John A. Bross... (Chicago, 1865)]