African American Civil War Memorial

U.S. Colored Troops (USCT) Memorial sculpture in Washington, D.C.
Opened in 1998 in Washington, D.C., the national African American Civil War Memorial commemorates the more than 200,000 African American volunteers who served in the Union Army and Navy during the Civil War. Shown here are the front and rear views of the life-sized bronze sculpture that is the centerpiece of the memorial site.
View of the park in which the African American Civil War Memorial is located in Washington, D.C.
Situated in a park-like plaza at 10th and U Streets in the nation’s capital, the Civil War memorial sculpture is the work of Ed Hamilton, an African American artist from Louisville, Ky. Easy to reach from anywhere in Washington, the site is located directly adjacent to the “U Streeet/African American Civil War Memorial/Cardozo” station of the city’s METRO subway system. See Google Map.
Listed are more than 200,000 names of African American Civil War soldiers.
The sculpture is partially encircled by a series of low, curving walls faced with stainless steel plaques listing the names of the 209,145 African Americans who fought for the Union in the war that ended slavery.
An etched metal wall of names of Black soldiers who served in the Civil War
Large numbers of those who joined the U.S. Colored Troop regiments and Union Navy were newly-freed slaves. Imagine the electrifying emotions former slaves must have felt when they were suddenly trained and armed to go into battle against the army of their former slavemasters.
Close up of the head of a Civil War soldier.
Thirty-five of these African American volunteer soldiers earned the Medal of Honor for their valor in battles against the Confederate military that was fighting to maintain the enslavement of Black people. By the end of the war, African American volunteers made up ten percent of the entire Union Army.
Civil War soldiers prepare to fire their rifles.
Although the Union Army’s land forces were strictly segregated, the Union Navy had routinely enlisted African Americans throughout the decades leading up to the war.
An African American U.S. Navy sailor from the Civil War.
At the height of the Civil War, sixteen percent of the Union Navy’s members were African Americans.
Struggling to steer a Civil War military vessel to safety.
Five African American Civil War sailors received the Medal of Honor for their actions in the sea battles that played a critical role in the Confederacy’s defeat.
Family members of Black Civil War soldiers watch their sons leave for battle.
On the front of the two-sided sculpture are three Union Army soldiers and one Union Navy sailor. On the rear are family figures.
Wife and newborn child of a Union Army soldier.
The rear scene depicts the parents, wives and children of the African American soldiers who went off to war. Some 68,000 of those servicemen died during that conflict that freed their people from slavery.
"Spirit of Freedom" is carved into the African American Civil War Memorial.
One side of the marble pedestal of Ed Hamilton’s sculpture bears the title, “Spirit of Freedom.” On the other side is the text, “Civil War to Civil Rights and Beyond. This memorial dedicated to those who served in the African American units of the Union Army in the Civil War. The 209,145 names inscribed on these walls commemorate those fighters of freedom.”
A quote from Frederick Douglas carved in marble.
On the memorial plaza’s highest wall is inscribed this Frederick Douglas 1863 quote: “Who would be free themselves must strike the blow. Better even die free than to live slaves.”
Civil War soldiers with rifles at the ready prepare for battle.
The African American Civil War Memorial and its affiliated nearby museum — The African American Civil War Memorial Freedom Foundation and Museum — are the site of annual commemorative events and draw a steady stream of visitors from around the country.
Uniform details from a U.S. Union Army soldier.
Further information on the African American Civil War Memorial can be found on Foundation’s website at