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Camp William Penn's Black Soldiers in Blue

FROM TheHistoryNet

This article was written by Donald Scott and originally published in America's Civil War in November 1999.


Camp William Penn's Black Soldiers in Blue

Under the stern but sympathetic gaze of Lt. Col. Louis Wagner, some 11,000 African-American soldiers trained to fight for their freedom at Philadelphia's Camp William Penn. Three Medal of Honor recipients would pass through the camp's gates.

Donald Scott


[When President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation freeing the slaves held in Confederate states took effect on January 1, 1863, thousands of free blacks and ex-slaves rushed to enlist in the Union Army. Many poured through the gates of Camp William Penn, about 10 miles north of downtown Philadelphia in the rolling, green Pennsylvania countryside. First Lieutenant Oliver Willcox Norton of the camp's 8th United States Colored Troop (USCT) Regiment, formerly a private in the 83rd Pennsylvania, later described the enthusiasm of the black recruits. "Our camp thronged with visitors...who wanted to enlist," he wrote. "There are hundreds of them, mostly slaves, here by now, anxiously waiting for the recruiting officer. The boys are singing: 'Rally round the flag, boys, rally once again, shouting the battle cry of freedom; down with the traitor, up with the star.'"]


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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