Black Troops at Fort Fisher

Regimental Colors - 27th USCT

Regimental Colors, 27th USCT. Ohio Historical Society, Ohio Battle Flag Collection

The 27th U.S. Colored Troops participated in the mop-up operations against Fort Fisher on the night of January 15, 1865, and was involved in the initial surrender negotiations.

At Fisher, the Ohio unit was one day shy of a year old, having been organized at Camp Delaware on January 16, 1864. The 27th served initially with the IX Corps, Army of the Potomac, before being transferred to the XXV Corps.

Prior to the Fort Fisher-Wilmington Campaign, the unit had taken part in the Army of the Potomac's campaign from the Rapidan River to the James River, in Virginia, May-June, 1864. From there, it took part in the siege of Petersburg, and was at Weldon Railroad, Poplar Grove Church, Boydton Plank Road, and Hatcher's Run.

Guidon - 27th USCT

Guidon, 27th USCT. Ohio Historical Society, Ohio Battle Flag Collection

By December 1864, just prior to embarking for Fort Fisher, the 27th USCT was on the Bermuda Hundred front (between Richmond and Petersburgwith the Army of the James.

At Fisher, the 27th suffered a few casualties, including one killed and four wounded.

Chaplain Henry M. Turner, 1st USCT, Describes the Aftermath of the Carnage at Fort Fisher

"The land forces on our [right] . . . in no instance broke nor exhibited any cowardice . . . .

"At one time I thought they could never stand it, neither do I believe they would have stood, but for the fact that they knew the black troops were in the rear, and if [the white troops] failed, the colored troops would take the fort and claim the honor. Indeed, the white troops told the rebels that if they did not surrender they would let the negroes loose on them . . . .

"The battle raged amid the terrific fire of deadly missiles until after dark . . . . I retired some distance from the scene of conflict and lay down until about 10 o'clock, when the news spread that Fort Fisher had surrendered . . . At this news I jumped up and went to survey the fort and behold the results of our conquest.

"The fort had been ploughed by our shells until everything looked like a heap of destruction . . . . Several rebels had been utterly buried by our shells . . . . The soldiers were ransacking every nook and corner in search of trophies and other memorials . . . .

"After walking around the fort for some time, viewing it by the light of the moon, I found myself shot at from some unknown quarter. This led me to believe there were rebels still secreted in some undiscovered spot whom we had not found . . . .

"I asked several rebel officers if they killed the colored prisoners they took. They told me they did not. They also told me if they were free men from the north, or even from any slave State in our lines, they were treated as other Yankee prisoners are; but if they were slaves, whose owners were in the Confederate States, and such colored men could be identified, they were treated as house-burners and robbers. And as for you, said they, you would get the same treatment as other Yankee officers."

Chaplain Henry M. Turner, 1st United States Colored Troops, Wright's brigade [3rd, Paine's (Third) Division, XXV Army Corps]. The 27th USCT also belonged to Wright's brigade. (See Organization Of Union Forces)

During the fight at Fort Fisher, Chaplain Turner served as an aide to surgeon Norman S. Barnes, medical director for Gen. Alfred H. Terry's Provisional Corps.

From: Redkey, Edwin S., ed. "Rocked in the Cradle of Secession, by Henry M. Turner." American Heritage, 31 (October/November 1980), pp. 70-79.


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