Group seeks info on black Union soldiers

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 12, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

A Chesapeake historical group is searching for descendents of the 245 Suffolk and Nansemond County soldiers who served in the United States Colored Troops during the Civil War.

&uot;That’s all I have documentation for but there were probably more,&uot; said historian Dr. E. Curtis Alexander, curator of the Bells Mill Historical Research and Restoration Society. &uot;Records were scatted and a lot of men were dying so records weren’t always kept.&uot;

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The organization is dedicated to preserving the history of Bells Mill, a small Chesapeake community founded by four blacks – three Union soldiers and a free black from Africa – in 1872.

President Abraham Lincoln commissioned the U.S. Colored Troops in May 1963 to save the union and defeat slavery, Alexander said. The troops were led by white regimental officers.

&uot;Descendents of these people are everywhere,&uot; said Alexander, saying he has heard from people across Hampton Roads, western Tidewater and as far away as New Mexico.

Alexander is also looking for descendents of the white regimental officers.

Alexander, a history professor for Strayer University, has been on his quest to preserve black Civil War history for a decade.

For too long, he said, the roles that local blacks played during that era in history have gone unnoticed.

&uot;We are hoping this will enlightened all freedom-loving people,&uot; he said.

Anyone with information on local black Union soldiers should contact Alexander at 547-5542 or by email at