New Bern To Honor Black Civil War Soldiers

Nov 8, 2013

Credit Leoneda Inge

The city of New Bern is honoring black Civil War soldiers with an official state highway marker. 

It's meant to mark the  flag of the city's 1st NC Colored Volunteers, raised there in the spring of 1863. That was shortly after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation - effectively freeing African American slaves in areas of rebellion against the union.  New Bern native Bernard George is an administrator in the city's planning department. He says, just as importantly, it allowed African American slaves to enlist in the army.

"And that was a huge military tactic by president Lincoln at that time. As we know, the union was losing and he was having trouble recruiting additional soldiers," said George.

George's great great grandfather fought in the union army during the civil war. 

"New Bern NC was the center of civil war recruitment for the army for African Americans," he said.  "And over 5-thousand enlisted from New Bern. It's the second oldest city in the state. It's a colonial capitol and the first state capitol."

The marker in New Bern will be the state's second honoring the regiment. There's also one at the National Cemetery in Wilmington, where some 400 black Civil War veterans are buried.