The 14th Heavy Artillery was Rhode Island's Black Civil War regiment. The War Department authorized formation of a company on July 19, 1863, and the number of enlistees was so large that the 14th became a regiment by September. Eighteen-hundred Black soldiers were recruited from Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York and other Northern states. Seventy-seven white officers joined the regiment.
The recruits were brought to Providence where they received training on Dexter Field throughout the summer and fall of 1863. In the fall they were assigned to Dutch Island to defend the West Passage in Narragansett Bay, manning eight artillery pieces on the island.
In early 1864 they were sent to the coast of Texas and later in the Winter, assimilated into the 11th U.S. Heavy Artillery regiment, they were posted to the defenses of New Orleans and Baton Rouge.
The 14th Rhode Island served bravely and had the highest number of deaths of any Black regiment in the Civil War. Over 300 men died from disease and another 100 received medical discharges.
Learn more about the 14th Rhode Island regiment and the role of Black soldiers in the Civil War:
Citizens of Color, 1863-1890: Military and Political Participation, Hartford Black History Project.
All Men are Brothers, Tom Brooks.
African Americans in the Civil War, Keith Krawczynski and Steven D. Smith
14th Regiment, Rhode Island Heavy Artillery, Commodore Joel Abbot, Camp No. 21, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil WarThe Third and Fourteenth Rhode Island Heavy Artillery Regiments - A Socio-economic & Military Profile, History Thesis by Kenneth S. Carlson, Rhode Island College.The Fourteenth Regiment Rhode Island Heavy Artillery (Colored,) In the War to Preserve the Union 1861-1865 , William H. Chenery, Snow & Farnham, 1898, reprinted 1969 by Negro Universities Press.
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