Highway Marker Honors First African American Recruits

Highway Marker Honors First African American Recruits

The First U.S. Colored Troop Recruits at Camp Nelson were honored with a highway marker in Danville Monday.
The First U.S. Colored Troops Recruits at Camp Nelson were honored at a dedication ceremony Monday.

A historical highway marker was unveiled in Danville by re-enactors from the 12th U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery Regiment from Camp Nelson for the men.

On May 23, 1864, nearly 150 African American men, mostly slaves, left Boyle County to march to Jessamine County to enlist in the Union Army. On the way, people from Danville threw stones, and shot pistols at the recruits. When they reached Camp Nelson, they were initially turned away by Union Col. Andew Clark because there was no policy for the recruitment of slaves.

The men were accepted into the army which prompted a Union policy change allowing able-bodied African American men into the service. More than 5,000 U.S. colored troops were eventually recruited at Camp Nelson.
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