Black Men in Blue

The County Line Historical Society of Wayne/Holmes is announcing its upcoming community event, Black Men in Blue: The Civil War, Ohioans, and the US Colored Troops. This event is free and open to the public.
This program is made possible in part by Ohio Humanities, a state affiliate of The National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of Ohio Humanities or the National Endowment for the Humanities.
This presentation focuses on the Ohio black community’s response to the national conflict, the wartime participation of free black men, and the impact of their service on white Ohioans. Special attention is given to the 5th and 27th USCT.
The 5th United States Colored Infantry Regiment was an African American regiment of the Union Army. The regiment saw action in Virginia as part of the Richmond-Petersburg campaign and in North Carolina, where it participated in the attacks on Fort Fisher and Wilmington and the Carolinas campaign.
The 27th United States Colored Troops, composed largely of free Black Ohio men, served in the Union army from April 1864 to September 1865 in Virginia and North Carolina. It was the first time most members of the unit had traveled so far from home. The men faced daily battles against racism and against inferior treatment, training, and supplies. They suffered from the physical difficulties of military life, the horrors of warfare, homesickness and worried about loved ones left at home without financial support. Yet their contributions provided a tool that allowed Blacks with little military experience, and their families, to demand social acceptance and acknowledgement of their citizenship.
Their service did not end when their enlistment was over. After the men of the 27th returned to Ohio, they and their families sought full access to the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments and compensatory citizenship rights for their collective sacrifice. Despite their constant battle against racism, this public behavior benefited the men and their families.
It also meant that the African American role in the Union victory remained part of local community remembrance and commemoration. As a result, the experiences of these men from the 27th USCT gave the late-nineteenth-century Ohio Black community legitimate hopes for access to equal civil and social rights for all.
Our guest speaker Kelly D. Mezurek is a professor of history at Walsh University, where she teaches United States history. She is a historian, writer and speaker who researches Black Civil War soldiers, sailors and veterans. Her book, “For Their Own Cause: The 27th United States Colored Troops” (The Kent State University Press, 2016), is a 2017 Ohioana Book Award Finalist in nonfiction. Mezurek has also published “The Colored Veteran Soldiers Should Receive the Same Tender Reconsidering the Lives of Civil War Veterans” and “De Bottom Rails on Top Now; Black Prisons Reconsidered”. Mezurek is a past executive board member of the Ohio Academy of History and was a representative on the Ohio Civil War 150 Advisory Committee.
The program will take place at 1:00 pm at the historic Shreve Presbyterian Church, 343 N. Market St. in Shreve on Saturday April 20th. Parking is available across North Market Street from the church.


Apr 20 2024


1:00 pm - 3:00 pm


Shreve Presbyterian Church, 343 N. Market St.
May 27, 2024, 4:52 am