Rare Image of USCT Appomattox Veteran Found / from History.net
One of the Checkerboard: Thousands of United States Colored Troops made the march to Appomattox, but no identified photograph of any of them has been found until recently.
The United States Colored Troops present at Appomattox in April 1865 made history on a number of levels. Not only were they part of the black and white forces—a “regular checker-board” in the eyes of one Union staff officer—that brought Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia to bay, but they were also a living, breathing example of the social restructuring that the conflict had brought about.
Though a Corporal when this image was made, John Peck of the 8th USCT was a Sergeant when he was present at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865. (Image courtesy the Ron Rittenhouse Collection)
For many years historians estimated there were 2,000 USCTs present at Lee’s surrender, but modern studies have proved that estimate was far too low. In 2013–2014 the Appomattox 1865 Foundation, the friends group for Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, obtained a grant so a researcher could look through the Compiled Military Service Record of each soldier in the nine USCT regiments that participated in the Appomattox Campaign and account for each soldier present in April 1865. The count resulting from that research found that the six USCT regiments on the battlefield the morning of April 9, 1865, numbered between 4,000 and 5,000 men. The regiments were large by 1864 standards. Though they had seen some action, their attrition rate was still low: Each regiment present numbered from 661 to 901 men.
Despite those numbers, no identified wartime photo of a USCT enlisted man who had been present at Appomattox was known of until this last summer, when John Peck’s image appeared in the special issue produced by Civil War Times, 1864: A Year of Relentless War. A quick check of the new list confirmed that Peck had indeed been present at the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia, and that at last an image of an Appomattox USCT had surfaced.
More is at this link.