by James K. Bryant II
Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2012. Pp. viii, 248.
Illus., appends., notes., biblio., index. $45.00 paper. ISBN: 0786468785
The 36th USCT began life as the 2nd North Carolina (African Descent) in early 1864,
composed largely from former slaves recruited on the east coat of the Carolinas, who quickly earned the reputation of being "most reliable soldiers."
The regiment initially served on occupation duty in the coastal regions of the Carolinas. They performedlocal security duties and conducted sweeps into Confederate-held territory on the coast of North Carolina and in northeastern Virginia. In the latter role, the regiment helped liberate literally thousands of enslaved people. From mid-1864, however, the regiment joined the Army of the James. The 36th USCT took part in operations against Petersburg and Richmond, Va., fighting at Chaffin's Farm (Sept. 29-30, 1864), endured the hard winter in the trenches, and then marched into Richmond on April 3, 1865. After a few weeks on occupation duty, the regiment was transferred to Texas. It remained in Texas, helping keep an eye on the French puppet “Mexican Empire” until it was mustered out in on October 28, 1866, after three years service.
Historian Bryant not only covers these events adequately, but also looks at the men who composed the regiment, giving us their background, mostly former slaves, with something of their lives, their occupations, and at times their futures, in mini-biographies of several of the troops.
The 36th Infantry United States Colored Troops in the Civil War
is a useful addition to the literature on the USCT.