Some were free born. Some were fugitives. Some were slaves. Now they were all veterans.
Hepburn, Sharon A. Roger
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This essay centers on the soldiers of the 102nd United States Colored Infantry (USCI), originally organized in August 1863 as the First Michigan Colored Infantry, the only all-black regiment organized in the state and one of only a handful of state raised northern black regiments. Building on the scholarship of Theda Skocpol, Donald Shaffer, Barbara Gannon, and others, an investigation into the lives and activities of this regiment's veterans offers a useful case study in race and reconciliation in the aftermath of the Civil War. African American veterans, because of their status as veterans, were able to combat racism in some aspects of their lives. Utilizing pension claims, GAR records, Soldiers Home files, and other sources, the experiences of veterans from the 102nd USCI reveals much about the typical African American soldier after their service for the Union.