Thirty-seven men from Culpeper County joined the United States Colored Troops during the Civil War, and those 37 will be remembered during the Museum of Culpeper History’s newest exhibit beginning Friday.
“U.S. Colored Troops of Culpeper: Their Sacrifice, Our Freedom,” curated by Terry Miller of Holland and in support of the George Washington Carver Regional High School Alumni Association will be visible for the first time during a special members preview May 19 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The exhibit will be open to the public beginning Saturday.
“This is a traveling exhibit that they go to each county with,” the museum’s curator of military collections Peter Griffith said. “What I have gathered is that they go through the records of the United States Colored Troops and take that county and pull all of them that have served.”
The exhibit will feature 15 of the 37 soldiers, mainly due to space limitations. Their stories and what is known about them will be featured on large easels in the exhibit and artifacts related to the time period will be on display.
“We’re going to show the type of weaponry they would carry,” Griffith said. “We will show some of their personal items. We have a medical canteen that is very rare that is going on display. We have a 61 Springfield Musket going on display.”
Griffith said he believed that most of the soldiers did not return to Culpeper, but that many of their records have been lost to time. Some have been able to be located in pension files, such as Averson Farmer, who was born in Culpeper.
“We do know that most of them went out to the Western Theatre,” Griffith said. “A lot of them drifted west (after the war), like a lot of soldiers did at the time.”
The museum has a book dedicated to the USCT and it will be on display during the exhibit – which will run through July.
Griffith said the museum learned of the exhibit after the board president saw a presentation in Orange and they decided it would make perfect sense to display it at the museum.
He said the exhibit explores the historical significance of the free men and the slaves who traveled north to join the USCT.
“They wanted to fight just as much as anyone else,” Griffith said.
Of the 37 from Culpeper, 24 were in the infantry, three in the Cavalry, two in the light artillery and eight in the heavy artillery.
The exhibit has also visited Orange, Madison and Rappahannock to chronicle the men who joined from those counties as well. Madison had 73 troops, Orange 76 and Rappahannock added another 48 for a total of 234 from the region.
For more information on the exhibit, visit the Museum of Culpeper History’s website at www.culpepermuseum.com.
Want to go?
What: “U.S. Colored Troops of Culpeper: Their Sacrifice, Our Freedom” exhibit
Where: Museum of Culpeper History, 113 South Commerce St, Culpeper, VA 22701
When: Special members preview May 19, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
For more information: www.culpepermuseum.com.