A new historic marker will be unveiled in Danville today to honor the first African-Americans to enlist in the Union Army in Kentucky. The marker will pay tribute to 250 black men, most of them slaves, who trekked from Boyle County to Jessamine County to enlist.
Kentucky African-American historian Yvonne Giles says that decision laid the groundwork for a change in Union policy that allowed slaves to join the army in the state. “The history of USCT, United States Colored Troops, has been sorely neglected in out Kentucky history, in our whole national history. You know, you never hear about this in the textbooks," she says.
Giles says historical records show that allowing slaves into the ranks may have been a decisive factor in the outcome of the Civil War. More than 5000 African-American troops were recruited at Camp Nelson.