United States Colored TroopsService Records Now Available Online

From the National Archives:

The National Archives announced this week it had completed the United States Colored Troops (USCT) Service Records Digitization Project done in partnership with Fold3.  The collection contains nearly four million images of historic documents and includes detailed information on former slaves.

The news comes on the 150th anniversary of the War Department’s General Orders 143 that established a Bureau of Colored Troops in the Adjutant General’s Office.  The Bureau recruited and organized African American Soldiers into the Union Army.

Included in the USCT military service records are muster rolls and an array of personal papers including enlistment papers, correspondence, orders, prisioner-of-war memorandums, casualty reports, and final statements.  Starting in October 1863, slave owners could enlist their slaves and receive up to $300 upon filing a “manumission” or deed of ownership.  Some of the USCT records include these deeds of manumission and bills of sale.

The records are available online for the first time thanks to the collaboration of Fold3 and the National Archives staff and volunteers who spent years preparing, preserving, microfilming and digitizing them.  The collection is available free of charge to non-subscribers at www.fold3.com/category_268 through May 31, and can be accessed for free at any time on computers at National Archives research facilities nationwide.

Fold3 provides offers free and subscription access to to US military records, including stories, photos, and personal documents.