U.S. Colored Troops 3rd Regiment Infantry

The 3rd Regiment U.S.C.T. was organized at Camp William Penn, near Philadelphia, Pa., August 3-10, 1863. It was ordered to Dept. of the South.

The enlisted men of this regiment were principally from the interior of Pennsylvania. They rendezvoused at Camp William Penn, at Chelton Hills, a few miles north of Philadelphia, where the regiment was organized in August, 1863, with the following field officers: Benjamin C. Tilghman, Colonel; Ulysses Doubleday, Lieutenant Colonel; Frederick W. Bardwell, Major. Colonel Tilghman had commanded the Twenty-sixth Pennsylvania, until wounded at Chancellorsville. Soon after its organization, the Third was ordered to the Department of the South, and proceeded thither, arriving at Morris Island while the siege of Fort Wagner was in full progress. It was immediately put into the trenches, and shared in the hardships of that memorable trial of skill and endurance which resulted in the fall of the fort. The loss during this siege was six killed and twelve wounded. In one of the night attacks which resulted in the capture of a line of rifle-pits, a Corporal was reported missing. Two days after, the advance sappers came upon his dead body. Warned by previous experience, they were careful to examine it thoroughly before attempting to remove it. A small string was discovered attached to its leg, which led away to the trigger of a torpedo buried in the sand. Such was the warfare which this command was called to meet.

Early in the year 1864, the regiment moved to Florida, with the forces under General Truman Seymour. On the return of the troops to Jacksonville, after the disastrous battle of Olustee, the Third was drilled as a heavy artillery regiment, and garrisoned the forts around the town, one company being posted at a fort on the St. John's River below, and one at Fernandina. During the summer, Colonel Tilghman was employed on detached duty at the north, the command of the regiment devolving on Lieutenant Colonel Doubleday. Under the latter, it took part in several expeditions into the interior, undertaken by General William Birney.

In September, Colonel Tilghman returned and resumed command. Small parties were frequently sent out into the surrounding country, the expeditions occasionally extending far into the interior, for the purpose of bringing in contrabands, and destroying property belonging to the rebel government. On one occasion, a body of twenty-nine enlisted men of the Third, and one private of another regiment, all under command of Sergeant Major Henry James, proceeded about sixty miles up the St. John's in boats, rowing by night, and hiding in the swamps by day, marched thence thirty miles into the interior, gathered together fifty or sixty contrabands, besides several horses and wagons, burned store-houses and a distillery belonging to the rebel government, and returned bringing their recruits and spoils all safely into camp.

On their return, they were intercepted by a body of cavalry, which was beaten off after a brisk fight, and they succeeded in crossing the St. John's without loss, carrying with them their wounded. The courage and good conduct displayed by the party in this affair, composed as it was, entirely of colored soldiers, were highly creditable, and were commended in an order by the General commanding the Department of the South. It was somewhat remarkable, that the regiment never lost a man as prisoner, though raiding parties not unfrequently were beaten, and driven by superior numbers. The general feeling among the men seemed to be, that immediate death was preferable to the treatment likely to be experienced as prisoners, On one occasion, a soldier who had been surrounded and driven into the river, stubbornly refused repeated calls to surrender, and was killed on the spot.

After the cessation of hostilities, and the surrender of the rebel armies, the regiment was posted at Tallahassee, Lake City, and other points in Florida. On the 16th of May, 1865, Colonel Tilghman resigned, and Major Bardwell was appointed to succeed him, Lieutenant Colonel Doubleday having been promoted to Colonel of the Forty-fifth Colored, in the October previous. The regiment remained in service in Florida, until October, when it returned to Philadelphia, where, on the 30th, it was mustered out of service.
bullet imageOFFICERS:
  • Colonel Benjamin G. Tilghman
  • bullet imageASSIGNMENTS:
    Attached to 4th Brigade, Morris Island, S.C., 10th Corps, Dept. of the South, to November, 1863. 3rd Brigade, Morris Island, S.C., 10th Corps, to January, 1864. Montgomery's Brigade, District of Hilton Head, S. C., 10th Corps, to February, 1864. 2nd Brigade, Vodges' Division, District of Florida, Dept. of the South, to April, 1864. District of Florida, Dept. of the South, to October, 1864. 4th Separate Brigade, District of Florida, Dept. of the South, to July, 1865. Dept. of Florida to October, 1865. bullet imageSERVICE:
    Siege of Forts Wagner and Gregg, Morris Island, S.C., August 20-September 7, 1863. Action at Forts Wagner and Gregg August 26. Capture of Forts Wagner and Gregg September 7. Operations against Charleston from Morris Island until January, 1864. Moved to Hilton Head, S.C., thence to Jacksonville, Fla., February 5-7, and duty there as Heavy Artillery until May, 1865. (1 Co. at Fernandina, Fla.) Expedition from Jacksonville to Camp Milton May 31-June 3, 1864. Front Creek July 15. Bryan's Plantation October 21. Duty at Tallahassee, Lake City and other points in Florida May to October, 1865. Mustered out October 31, 1865. bullet imageROSTERS:
    bullet imageBIBLIOGRAPHY:
  • Dyer, Frederick H. A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion. Vol. 2. Davenport, IA: Eastern Digital Resources, 2003.
  • Rigdon, John C. US Colored Troops Civil War Soldiers Index. Davenport, IA: Eastern Digital Resources, 2011.

  • Dyer, Frederick H. - A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion
  • The Union Army by Federal Publishing Company, 1908 - Volume 1
  • History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers 1861-1865; prepared in Compliance With Acts of the Legislature, by Samuel P. Bates, A Member of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Volume V, Harrisburg: B. Singerly, State Printer. 1871.

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