In Black Soldiers in Blue: African American Troops in the Civil War Era, John David Smith stated that approximately 10% of the soldiers in the Union Army were Black. Among the 10% was Rachel’s father, Harry F. Flowers. According to his enlistment record, H. Flowers was born in Putnam County, Florida around 1846. His occupation-farmer. Age-18. Height-5 ft 4 in. Enlistment location-Jacksonville, FL. Under remarks-promoted corporal, August 31, 1965. Promoted Sergeant September 12, 1965.
In this next document, Company Muster Roll, H. Flowers appeared as a Private in Company F of the 21st USCT. Joined for duty and enrolled: when August 17 1864, where Jacksonville, Fla, period 3 years. Mustered in: when Aug 17, 1864, where Hilton Head, SC. Present or absent Present Remarks: To be credited to State of Mass.
Organized in March 14, 1864, the 21st USCT was comprised of former enslaved men from Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. Until April, 1864, they were assigned to Jacksonville, FA.. The regiment then moved to Hilton Head, South Carolina and later traveled to Folly Island, SC;Morris Island, SC; Cole Island, SC; and Charleston, South Carolina. The 21st Regiment mustered out on October 7 ,1866. The 21st USCT, like most colored regiments, was largely a fatigue unit; however, they were the first Union regiment to enter Charleston following its fall in 1865.
A brief excerpt about the 21st Regiment from Smith’s Black Soldiers in Blue: African American Troops in the Civil War Era:
“…the 21st U.S. Colored Troops, a unit composed of former slaver from South Carolina, Florida, and Georgia, cautiously entered the port city. An onrushing cloud of smoke from fires set by the retreating Confederates greeted the black liberators. Along with members of other white and black Union regiments, the men of he 21st moved quickly into the city and worked their way through Charleston’s rubble to extinguish the raging inferno. To slow the Union advance, retreating Confederate soldiers engulfed Charleston with flames by setting afire cotton warehouses, buildings, bridges, the railroad depot, and several naval vessels.”
- Smith, John David. Black Soldiers in Blue: African American Troops in the Civil War Era. University of North Carolina Press, 2004.
- Weidman, Budge. Compiled Military Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers Who Served With The United States Colored Troops : Infantry Organizations, 20th Through 25th http://www.fold3.com/pdf/M1823.pdf