Delaware Genealogical Society

About this Directory

About this Directory

This Directory documents the names, companies, and regiments of 1,868 African American Delaware residents in 49 regiments who were veterans of the Civil War. The total encompasses 1,446 native-born residents and 422 veterans who moved to Delaware after the war.

This Directory does not document all African American veterans. For example, new post-war residents who did not file for a pension are not recorded in any records. There are many other examples. There is no known confirmed archived information that documents the number of Delaware’s African American veterans of the Civil War. This Directory research, therefore, is designed to focus only on soldiers with documented confirmation of service.

The Directory defines a Delaware resident within two categories and designates them as “native” and “new” residents.

  The first criteria for Delawarean residents are those African Americans who have military records that confirm they were born in Delaware. They are “native” Delawareans. The second criteria are those who moved to Delaware after the war and filed for Civil War pensions as residents of the State of Delaware. They are “new” Delawareans. These two designations were established to help with data analysis.

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The word “Native Delawarean” is used in several places in the Directory with specific data analysis. For example: “trained 153 native Delawareans”. This was used to separate native-born data from post-war resident data. Comments on enlistment patterns center exclusively on “native” Delawareans to show a local pattern without data contamination from those “new” post-war veterans who might have lived in far-reaching states at the time of enlistment. Research protocol ensured a connection to each soldier’s military record to provide accurate and reliable research results.

The Directory only documents soldiers. It does not include sailors. Unlike sailors, soldiers enlisted in specific regiments that provide time and locational information for data analysis. The Data Analysis section supplies this analysis. There are approximately 350 African American sailors with a Delaware place of birth. This list will be documented in a separate study.

The Directory lists name, company, regiment, and resident status. Soldiers in the list with no company designation did not have the company listed in their military file. The majority had notations that the soldier’s name did not show up in the regiment’s rolls. Most of these situations appear to be some form of ‘paper’ assignment to a regiment from a health recovery volunteer regiment. Individual research is required on such soldiers by researching additional military records.

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There are three sections in this Directory: Research Methodology; Historical Background, and the Directory of 1,868 named veterans.

The first section describes the research methodology, including the meaning of specific data, sources, and subjects, such as avoidance of duplicate names.

The Historical Background provides an overview of the Directory’s essential features. This section presents examples of the timing and location of African American enlistments and such focused reviews as desertions, disease fatality patterns, and draft/enlistment/substitution data. These are presented to inspire more comprehensive research.

Camp William Penn was the major muster-in location for Delaware soldiers and served a vast majority of Delaware enlistees. Eleven (11) regiments with Delaware soldiers were formed and trained at Camp William Penn. This section includes the number of veterans by regiment, the timing and patterns of enlistment, and the 11 regimental service histories to provide an overview of what the Delaware members of these regiments experienced during the war.

The ascending hierarchy of organization in these records along with the general number of soldiers in each is: company (100); regiment (800); brigade (2,600); division (8,000); corps (26,000 – roman numerals), and army (80,000).

 The third section is the list of Delaware African American Civil War soldiers. This list contains name, company, regiment, and type of residency. While not digitalized with the military record hyperlinked in this document, the reader can be assured that each name in this Directory has a confirming service record. The hyper-linked records may be posted on the DGS website pending permission.

It is recognized that the social status, circumstances, and enlistment motives of African American soldiers in 1863 are extremely complex and that they played out in a context of oppressive discrimination. This Directory makes every effort to present only descriptive data and aspires to avoid any subjective cultural interpretations.

Notwithstanding the social context, this Directory hopes to provide a framework that inspires future research into Delaware African American participation in the Civil War. 

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