Regiment U. S. Colored Troops. Five other regiments raised in like manner were mustered in prior to June 30, 1863.
The Fifty-fourth and Fifty-fifth Regiments of Massachusetts Volunteers were colored troops. They were organized in Massachusetts, and were mustered into service between March 30 and June 22, 1863. They were organized, officered, &c., by the State authorities, like other regiments of volunteers, and so continued until mustered out.
The foregoing colored troops were raised prior to the commencement of the operations of the Bureau for Colonel Troops, which was created by General Orders, No. 143, a dated May 22, 1863.
Under the immediate supervision of that Bureau, a regiment designated the First U. S. Colored Troops was mustered into service in the District of Columbia on the 30th of June, 1863, and simultaneously with this a regiment was mustered in North Carolina.
At this period, June, 1863, the recruitment of colored troops was going on all over the country, and so continued until stopped by orders on April 29, 1865, in consequence of no more troops being required.
With the exception of the two Massachusetts regiments above mentioned, the military organizations composed of colored men were mustered directly into the service of the United States, and were organized and officered by officers acting under the authority of the United States, and not of any particular State.
Since March 27, 1865, all appointments of officers for these troops have been made exclusively by the War Department, and after an examination by a board of officers. Prior to that time the Adjutant-General of the Army, in the Mississippi Valley, made appointments, in the name of the Secretary of War, to the regiments which he organized; and department commanders made, subject to the approval of the President, provisional appointments to the regiments organized by them.
The recruitment of men of color by draft and substitution was exclusively under the control of this Bureau, but their recruitment as volunteers was mainly under the Bureau for Colored Troops, especially established for that purpose. To present together the entire results of these operations, which, however, were produced in the main by the action of the Bureau for Colored Troops, the following extract is made from the report of the chief of that Bureau:
On the 15th of July, 1865, the date on which the last organization of colored troops was mustered in, there were-
In the service of the United States 120 regiments of infantry, numbering in the aggregate............................98,938
Twelve regiments of heavy artillery...................15,662
Ten companies of light artillery...................... 1,311
Seven regiments of cavalry........................... 7,245
The foregoing is the largest number of colored troops in service at any one time during the war.
The entire number of troops commissioned, and enlisted in this branch of the service during the war is 186,017.b
a See Appendix, Doc.25, Art.1.
b See Appendix, Doc.8, for the opinions of surgeons of boards of enrollment as to the physical fitness of colored men for military service.