Were the NCOs in the USCT black or white?

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matthew mckeon

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Noncoms were black. Although there were a few white noncoms when the 33rd USCT(First South Carolina Volunteers)was first formed, they were replaced by black noncoms.
 
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johan_steele

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There were black officers in the USCT, most were pushed out by the end of the war. NCO's were both white and black. There were several drives, particularly through the western theatre, looking for experienced NCO's to train up the USCT. Many volunteered and were accepted, the majority would train up their replacements from the ranks and go back to their own units. I believe by 1866 all USCT NCO's were black men and all of their officers were white.
 

Pat Young

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There were black officers in the USCT, most were pushed out by the end of the war. NCO's were both white and black. There were several drives, particularly through the western theatre, looking for experienced NCO's to train up the USCT. Many volunteered and were accepted, the majority would train up their replacements from the ranks and go back to their own units. I believe by 1866 all USCT NCO's were black men and all of their officers were white.
I have not done any exhaustive tally, but the vast majority of NCOs in black regiments that I have looked at were black.
 

johan_steele

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I have not done any exhaustive tally, but the vast majority of NCOs in black regiments that I have looked at were black.
You're quite right. Many of the Regiments though had some or all white Sr. NCO's initially and they were replaced from within the ranks. Some of those NCO's would move on to become officers in other USCT Regiments others would go back to their own. As the number of USCT units increased there was a larger pool of experienced and trained black NCO's to choose from to train up new units.

I'll have to see if I can find the reference. I think Trudeau touched upon it but I recall reading that around 2-300 white NCO's passed in and out of USCT units towards the end of the war. IIRC it was more common in the western theatre than in the east. There certainly weren't many if any white NCO's in the Army of the James at Bermuda 100.

We have to remember that the USCT was an evolving force. Especially as the war progressed and came to an end. By the time the war ended and the Army opted to create a permanent USCT force as Regulars there was an idea of what the USCT should look like but it was far from uniform. By the 1870's it could be argued that the USCT regiments were the most disciplined and best drilled of the Regular Army. The high standards of dress, drill and performance would extend all the way into War one. There was a solid, well founded, belief that the USCT men had to be one step above and never be allowed to let their guard down lest they bring down their comrades. This was a belief that was started in the ACW and carried through until integration of the army.
 
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ForeverFree

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You're quite right. Many of the Regiments though had some or all white Sr. NCO's initially and they were replaced from within the ranks. Some of those NCO's would move on to become officers in other USCT Regiments others would go back to their own. As the number of USCT units increased there was a larger pool of experienced and trained black NCO's to choose from to train up new units.

I'll have to see if I can find the reference. I think Trudeau touched upon it but I recall reading that around 2-300 white NCO's passed in and out of USCT units towards the end of the war. IIRC it was more common in the western theatre than in the east. There certainly weren't many if any white NCO's in the Army of the James at Bermuda 100.

We have to remember that the USCT was an evolving force. Especially as the war progressed and came to an end. By the time the war ended and the Army opted to create a permanent USCT force as Regulars there was an idea of what the USCT should look like but it was far from uniform. By the 1870's it could be argued that the USCT regiments were the most disciplined and best drilled of the Regular Army. The high standards of dress, drill and performance would extend all the way into War one. There was a solid, well founded, belief that the USCT men had to be one step above and never be allowed to let their guard down lest they bring down their comrades. This was a belief that was started in the ACW and carried through until integration of the army.
Agreed. There were white and black NCOs, I believe the number of black NCOs increased over time, and I believe the majority of NCOs in USCT regiments were of African descent. I don't know if anyone has ever documented the percentage of NCOs who were of African descent though. Seems like that would make for a good research project.

- Alan
 

gary

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Concur with Johan & Alan. From what I've read, initially there were a lot of of white NCOs but they were gradually replaced with blacks.
 

thomas aagaard

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From a military standpoint it also make perfect sense.
They needed experienced NCOs to train the men...(resulting in the USCT privats getting way better "basic training" than the the men in the white state regiments) and then it make sense to take the best men from the ranks and train them as replacements for the white ncos.
 
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johan_steele

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I thought I could find the reference but I cannot. I recall reading of a USCT where every 1st Sgt on up was a white man as one of the requirements for a 1st Sgt was that he be literate. The Colonel was a school teacher pulled from God knows where and not thought highly of initially by the White NCO's who were all experienced troops. But in short order they first came to respect then outright fear the Colonel as he made it clear he was there for his men, the USCT men and wanted the best of everything from weapons and uniforms to training and he expected every man in the regiment to be able to read and write in 6 mos. as well as do simple math. The comments of the NCO's were that they were glad they were leaving the Regiment because the Colonel was too strict. By the time the NCO's went back to their units they believed that if the Colonel told those men to storm the gates of hell with a bucket of spit they would have.
 
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