Rather Die Freemen Than Live To Be Slaves--3rd United States Colored Troops Digital History ID 2383|
Credit: Library of Congress
Media type: engraving
Museum Number: LC-USZ62-23098
Annotation: The 3rd United States Colored Infantry Regiment was the first regiment to be formed in 1863 in compliance with Abraham Lincoln’s executive order known as the Emancipation Proclamation which allowed African-Americans, including freed slaves, to join the Union army. Consisting of 11 regiments and two companies of infantry led by white officers, the soldiers completed their basic training at Philadelphia’s Camp William Penn in the late summer of 1863. Northern opposition to the Emancipation Proclamation led by “Copperhead” Democrats and the intense racism that pervaded Philadelphia denied the soldiers the honor of participating in the traditional parade down Broad Street into South Carolina. Over the following year, the 3rd infantry would take part in several successful operations from South Carolina to Florida, before being officially mustered out of service on October 31, 1865.
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