In Their Own Words: Pvt. John E. Deans, 2nd U. S. Colored Cavalry

African American Civil War Monument DC Copyright 2017 Nadia Orton
African American Civil War Memorial. Washington, D. C. Photo: Nadia K. Orton, August 5, 2017

© Nadia Orton and Sacred Ground, Sacred History, 2014-2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts, links, and photos may not be used without prior written permission from Nadia Orton and Sacred Ground, Sacred History. If granted, full and clear credit shall be given to Nadia Orton and Sacred Ground, Sacred History, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. See: https://info.legalzoom.com/happens-break-copyright-laws-20309.html


John E. Deans, of Company A, 2nd U. S. Colored Cavalry, was born about 1845 near Murfreesboro, Hertford County, North Carolina. He enlisted at the (stated) age of eighteen on December 22, 1863, at Yorktown, Virginia, and mustered into service on the same day at Fort Monroe, Virginia. At the time of enlistment, he was described as five feet, six inches tall, with dark eyes, black hair, and a “yellow” complexion. John was appointed bugler on January 16, 1865. He mustered out of service on February 12, 1866, at Brazos Santiago, Texas.

In Their Own Words: Sgt. Edmond Carter, Evergreen Cemetery, Richmond, Virginia

Camp William Penn, ca. 1863-1865, Cheltenham, Pa. Library of Congress.

Sgt. Edmond Carter served with Company G, 45th Regiment, United States Colored Infantry. According to his military pension record, he was born enslaved on the Allen Estate “in the third week of August,” 1844, near Bowling Green, Caroline County, Virginia. He was the son of Lewis Carter and Mary Jones.

He enlisted under the name “Edmond Allen,” the surname of his last owner, at the age of nineteen on July 28, 1864, at Grafton, West Virginia. He mustered in on July 29, 1864, at Camp William Penn, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Edmond was promoted from Corporal to Sergeant on August 16, 1865, and was discharged nearly three months later at Brownsville, Texas, with the surviving members of his regiment.

I located Edmond’s death certificate at the Library of Virginia in early 2015, and later reviewed his pension file at the National Archives in Washington, D. C. His testimony contains a very detailed description of his military experience, as well as the reason he chose to enlist under his former slave owner’s surname.