Historical Society to Honor First Black Civil War Regiments

The U.S. Colored Troops regiment was founded 150 years ago.

Posted: 09/19/2013 10:35 AM EDT

A historical society in Pennsylvania is set to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the first Black Civil War regiments on Saturday with day-long festivities. 

The Citizens for the Restoration of Historical La Mott will honor the establishment of the U.S. Colored Troops regiments and Camp William Penn, the first training camp for Black soldiers during the Civil War. More than 10,000 troops over a two-year period were trained at the camp in La Mott, a tiny village right outside of Philadelphia. 

"It makes me humble to think of what the men did for us," Martha Woods, of La Mott, whose great-grandfather trained at the camp told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "We would not be where we are today if those men hadn't gone off to fight."

During the festivities, the organization hopes to raise awareness of the site and money so that this piece of history is not lost. The Camp William Penn Museum and Interpretive Center has been closed for 12 years and is in need of renovations the citizens group cannot afford.

"It would be very nice if this event started some kind of movement to get the building open," Joyce Werkman, president of the Citizens for the Restoration of Historical La Mott, said to the Philadelphia Inquirer

Events will kick off at 10:00 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 21 and includes a parade of 100 descendants of the U.S. Colored Troops, tours, exhibits and reenactments. Find more information about the commemoration here.

African-Americans who fought in the war between the states entered the service uncertain of whether they would be free or enslaved if they survived. But many of them made history in the war. Trainees from the camp earned four Medals of Honor and also helped capture President Lincoln's assassin.

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(Photo: Courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration)