U.S. Colored Troops honored in Cape Girardeau for first time aft - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

U.S. Colored Troops honored in Cape Girardeau for first time after 150 years

More than 150 years have passed since these 15 soldiers fought for freedom, ours and theirs, in the Civil War. More than 150 years have passed since these 15 soldiers fought for freedom, ours and theirs, in the Civil War.
CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) -

More than 150 years have passed since these 15 soldiers fought for freedom, ours and theirs, in the Civil War. They were honored on Sunday at the Fairmont Cemetery in Cape Girardeau where many people came out to show their respect and to learn their stories.

"This is part of our community memory that has been allowed to fade away," Cape Girardeau Historian Denise Lincoln said. "When I even became aware that we even had enlistees for the U.S. Colored Troop from Cape Girardeau, I went to all the history books to read about it myself and realized it's not written down anywhere."

So, Lincoln committed herself to finding all the bits and pieces of information she could in order to put together the story of these soldiers in order to preserve their history.

The graves were marked with a flag and a brief description of who each soldier was. People gathered around each grave to learn the story of all of their lives. The stories were told by volunteers who felt it was important for them to help share the story of what these men did for their country.

"I think that's why a lot of people are here," Charlotte Wade of Cape Girardeau said. "They want to see did these people really exist. Who were they? What were they about?"

Many of the men were slaves and enlisted in Cape Girardeau as part of the 56th U.S. Colored Infantry (USCI) back in June of 1863. At least 70 men from the area enlisted here and served in Arkansas.

A few months later, more than a hundred more men enlisted at Post Cape Girardeau, where they were attached to the 65, 67, and 68th USCI, serving in Louisiana and Texas.

In June of 1864, another 70 men enlisted in the 18th USCI in Cape Girardeau, which then served in Tennessee and Alabama.

At least 15 soldiers then decided to make their way to the Cape Girardeau area as free men. They made Cape Girardeau and Perry Counties their home until they eventually died. Unfortunately, not all soldiers that are buried in Cape Girardeau have headstones. A couple soldier's locations in the cemetery are unknown. However, it did not stop them from being recognized.

According to Lincoln, they are being honored as heroes now despite never receiving any welcome parades or official recognition in past years.

As time has passed, many of those at the Fairmont Cemetery on Sunday believed that although we have made progress in abolishing racism, we still have some improving still to do.

"We have worked for freedom for black people for years and years and years," Wade said. "And it's all connected. It makes me feel good."

Many here say while these soldiers were part of the colored troop during the Civil War, they will not be remembered for the color of their skin but for the soldiers that they were.

"To recognize together that we our Cape Girardeau's story," Lincoln said. "Even because we had other racial unrest and some issues, these kind of things can pull us together and help us appreciate how each of us have contributed to our history."

The soldiers honored on Sunday were William Abernathy, Levi Gayther, Calvin Israel, Ruben Lane, Noah Randall, Jesse Cooper, E.H. Goodchild, Dennis Jackson, Tony McGee, Luke Smith, John Gale, George Hampton, John Johnson, Richard Pulliam, and John Snyder.

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