State to Dedicate Marker at Appomattox Court House National Historical Park for Actions of U.S. Colored Troops During Civil War

Published April 11, 2024
006-0033_Appomattox_Court_House_Ntnl_Historical_Park_NPS_DATE_aerial_view_VLR_Online

Virginia Department of Historic Resources
(dhr.virginia.gov)
For Immediate Release
April 11, 2024

Contact:
Ivy Tan
Department of Historic Resources
Marketing & Communications Manager
ivy.tan@dhr.virginia.gov
804-482-6445

—The historical marker recalls the role of the U.S. Colored Troops in the final defeat of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army in April 1865—

—Text of marker reproduced below—

PLEASE NOTE: DHR creates markers not to “honor” their subjects but rather to educate and inform the public about a person, place, or event of regional, state, or national importance. In this regard, erected markers are not memorials.

RICHMOND – This weekend, a state historical marker issued by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (DHR) that sheds light on the actions of the United States Colored Troops (USCT) toward the end of the Civil War will be dedicated in the town of Appomattox.

The dedication ceremony for the marker will be held Saturday, April 13, from 9:30-10 a.m., at the marker’s location in the parking area near the site of Grant’s Headquarters, which is located at 411 Parkview Lane on Virginia Route 24 in Appomattox (24522). This event is free and open to members of the public. Approximately seven to eight free on-site parking spaces will be reserved for attendees on a first-come, first-serve basis. Free parking will also be available at the Galilee Baptist Church, located at 4248 Old Courthouse Road, next to the Grant’s Headquarters parking lot.

The dedication ceremony will begin with an introduction from James Bailey, the superintendent of the Appomattox Court House National Historical Park. Larissa Smith, who sits on the State Review Board and is Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Longwood University, where she is also a professor of American history, will represent DHR at the ceremony and provide remarks following the introduction. Patrick Schroeder, a historian for the Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, and the Rev. Alfred Jones, a local historian and retired Appomattox County Public Schools teacher, will also speak at the event. Living historians of the Ohio 5th USCT Company G unit will perform a commemorative firing of guns under the supervision of Luke Dixon, education technician at the Appomattox Court House National Historical Park. Members of the Appomattox County Board of Supervisors and the Appomattox Town Council as well as representatives from local museums and historical societies are expected to be in attendance.

The historical marker will recall the contributions of USCT in the final defeat of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia near the end of the Civil War. On the morning of April 9, 1865, as Union forces closed in on Gen. Lee’s Army, Confederate troops attacked Union cavalry near the site of the marker. The Confederates’ advance was stalled when Union infantry, including two brigades of USCT, arrived on the field. Approximately 5,000 Black soldiers including formerly enslaved men, free-born African Americans, and foreign-born individuals of African descent helped block Lee’s escape. Lee surrendered to Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant later that day. As a result of these events, African Americans have long commemorated April 9 as a day of liberation.

The Virginia Board of Historic Resources, which is authorized to designate new state historical markers, approved the manufacture and installation of the “U.S. Colored Troops at Appomattox” marker in 2022. As the sponsor of the marker, DHR will cover its manufacturing costs.

Virginia’s historical highway marker program began in 1927 with installation of the first markers along U.S. Route 1. It is considered the oldest such program in the nation. Currently there are more than 2,600 state markers, mostly maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation, except in those localities outside of VDOT’s authority.

Full Text of Marker:

U.S. Colored Troops at Appomattox

On the morning of 9 April 1865, Union forces closed in on Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. The Confederates attacked Union cavalry near here, trying to break through to the west. Their advance faltered when Union infantry, including two brigades of U.S. Colored Troops, arrived on the field. Among the 5,000 Black soldiers who helped block Lee’s escape were formerly enslaved men, free-born African Americans, and foreign-born individuals of African descent. Lee surrendered to Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant later that day. African Americans long commemorated 9 April as a day of liberation, celebrating the role played by Black soldiers in the final defeat of Lee’s army.

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