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About this collection

Tennessee’s Civil War muster rolls were official lists of the officers and men enlisted in or otherwise accounted for in a particular unit or company.  They provide the name and age of each man, his enlisting officer, the date and place of mustering, and the title of the regiment and company.  Some muster rolls include descriptive details such as birthplace, occupation, and physical appearance.  Documents for this regiment include Muster In records, rosters of around 60 soldiers per company enlisted into service, and Muster and Descriptive records--more detailed lists of around a dozen soldiers per document.  For most of the African American men in the 2nd West Tennessee Infantry (African Descent), it is likely these documents are the first time they are listed in official records as free men.

 

The 2nd West Tennessee Infantry Regiment (AD) was mustered in at La Grange, Tennessee on June 30 and August 27, 1863 under the command of Colonel Frank A. Kendrick.  The commissioned officers of the regiment were all white men, as was typical for United States Colored Troops (USCT) regiments.  The sergeants and corporals (non-commissioned officers) and enlisted men were African American.  Many enlisted men of the regiment were recruited from contraband camps, camps of refugee slaves established near Federal troops at La Grange, Moscow, Memphis, Jackson, Germantown, and Collierville, Tennessee.

 

After mustering in, the 2nd West Tennessee (AD) operated out of La Grange, Moscow, and Memphis, Tennessee.  On December 4, 1863, the regiment fought in a skirmish at Wolf River Bridge, near Moscow, Tennessee.  This was the first engagement fought by any Tennessee USCT unit.  They joined the 1st Alabama and 1st Tennessee (African Descent) to form the 1st Colored Brigade.  In March 1864, the official designation of the 2nd West Tennessee was changed to the 61st U.S. Colored Infantry Regiment (USCI).  Near Tupelo, Mississippi, on July 14 and 15, 1864, the 61st USCI helped to repulse Confederate attacks led by Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest.  The 61st was also involved in an expedition to Oxford, Mississippi, to hunt for Forrest during August 1864.  While most of the 61st was in Mississippi, a detachment under Captain Charles Riggs was overrun by Forrest during his raid on Memphis on August 21, 1864. The raid prompted the rest of the regiment to return to Memphis. Significant casualties were incurred in October 1864 when their brigade left Memphis and was ambushed trying to disembark from transport boats at Eastport, Mississippi.  The regiment returned to Memphis and served there until February 1865 when they were sent to New Orleans and then on to Morganza, Louisiana. The following month they were ordered to Barrancas (Pensacola), Florida.  In April 1865, the 61st was sent to Blakely, Alabama (near Mobile).  They served in Alabama until mustered out of service in December 1865.

 
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