Today—the 150th anniversary of the creation of the US Colored Troops (USCT)—the National Archives has announced the completion of the USCT Service Records Digitization Project.
The USCT Service Records collection is available free to everyone today through May 31 on Fold3, which was a partner in the project.
The USCT was established May 22, 1863 by War Department General Order 143 to organize African-American soldiers to fight for the Union Army. Its members fought in 39 major battles and 400 other engagements. Sixteen received the Medal of Honor.
The collection holds nearly 4 million record images. The service records can include muster rolls, enlistment papers, correspondence, orders, prisoner-of-war memorandums and casualty reports. Some files include deeds of manumission and bills of sale for former slaves whose owners received compensation for freeing the slaves to enlist.