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African-American Soldiers

African-American Soldiers

At a meeting in Jersey City to honor the Emancipation Proclamation, black religious leader Henry Highland Garnet encouraged African Americans to enlist in the military. Although New Jersey did not give its name to any black regiments, it can be estimated that a few thousand African Americans from New Jersey served with the U.S. Colored Troops, in regiments from other states, or in the navy. Recruiters soon discovered that a black soldier fulfilled a quota as well as a white one. Traces of African-American soldiers can be found in Rutgers’ Civil War manuscript collections.

Receipt, Gerry Taylor, Received of Aaron Beard, His Certificate of Discharge. December 6, 1865.

Gerry Taylor, Received of Aaron Beard, His Certificate of Discharge from the "K" 25th Regiment National Colored Troops, December 6, 1865. Ralph Johnson Papers. Aaron Beard's regiment served in the defense of New Orleans and participated in raids on the Confederate-held Florida coasts. Beard died in 1876 and is buried in Princeton Cemetery.

Receipt, Sephaniah Stout, Blawenberg, seventy-two dollars being state pay belonging to the widowed mother of James Schenck and Catherine Van Zandt, wife of John Van Zandt.

Displayed here is a receipt for pension payments to the relatives of two African-American soldiers, John Van Zandt and James Schenck. African-American soldiers’ families did not receive the same benefits as white soldiers until 1865. Van Zandt and Schenck served in Company C of the 21st regiment, which was sent to Virginia. Van Zandt died in 1881 and is buried along with Schenck in Moore's Farm Cemetery in Stoutsburg in Mercer County.