This Week in the Civil War - 497
On February 1, 1863, Colonel Thomas Wentworth Higginson, a prominent Massachusetts abolitionist, led the first federally authorized regiment of African American soldier, into combat.
As reported in the New York Times, Higginson’s force, the First South Carolina Volunteers, landed in the vicinity of Fernandina Beach and then proceeded up the St. Mary’s River along the Florida-Georgia border. In their first taste of combat under his command, Higginson’s forces availed themselves well.
As one of their own reported: “Our colored troops are more than a match for any equal number of white rebels which can be brought against them.” Eventually, nearly 180,000 African American soldiers would serve the Union.