Beaufort, South Carolina: United States Colored Troops, Beaufort National Cemetery

USCT Beaufort National Cemetery
U. S. Colored Troops – Beaufort National Cemetery. Photo: December 13, 2014, Nadia K. Orton. All rights reserved.
1st SC Infantry of African Descent historical marker. Photo: Nadia K. Orton. All rights reserved.

1st SC Infantry of African Descent – The 1st South Carolina Volunteer Infantry Regiment was raised from sea island slaves living around Port Royal. Elements of the regiment were formed on Hilton Head in May 1862. In August 1862, the regiment was reorganized near Beaufort at the Smith plantation. It was commanded by the noted abolitionist Thomas W. Higginson who led the Regiment on raids along the Georgia coast. On Jan. 1, 1863, the regiment was formerly mustered into the United States Army. The regiment saw extensive service on the South Carolina, Georgia and Florida Coasts. On Feb. 8, 1864, the regiment was redesignated as the 33rd Infantry Regiment of the United States Colored Troops. The regiment assisted in the occupation of Charleston, Savannah, Augusta and other points until it was mustered out on Jan. 31, 1866.”

In Their Own Words: Voices of African American WWI Veterans

On Sunday, November 11, 2018, the 100th anniversary of the Armistice, the technical end of World War I, was observed by our nation and many countries throughout the world. As with other major historical events, I viewed the day through the lens of a historian and genealogist. It can be quite an interesting enterprise; as a historian, you want to know all of the facts of an event, and as a genealogist, you’re eager to place your ancestors within the context of those events. 

Over the years, our family has located the grave sites of many of our ancestors that served in World War I. We’ve tracked them to historic African American cemeteries in Portsmouth, Richmond and Suffolk in Virginia, Buncombe, Franklin, Henderson, Hertford, and Warren counties in North Carolina, and Knoxville National Cemetery in Tennessee.

Beaufort National Cemetery, South Carolina: United States Colored Troops

USCT Beaufort National Cemetery SC
United States Colored Troops, Section 29

Our family paid a visit to Beaufort National Cemetery, Beaufort, South Carolina, in early December, 2014. While there, I snapped a photo of some of the United States Colored Troops. It was Wreaths Across America Day at the cemetery, and there were hundreds of people present, prepared to pay homage to the fallen by decorating each grave with a wreath. Recently, the South Carolina Department of Archives and History announced they were holding a photo contest of historic sites in the state. I thought “why not?,” and submitted this photo. Surprisingly, it was selected by staff as one of the ten finalists. I didn’t win, though. That honor went to an amazing photo of an old African American school. I’m still tickled my pic made it to the top ten. Thanks so much to the staff of the South Carolina Department of Archives and History! ♦