Do you remember the movie, Glory, about the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment during the civil war? This movie highlighted the service of African-Americans during the civil war. While I was aware of the movie I was not aware that I had a distant cousin who was an officer in a similar regiment: the 59th Regiment of Colored Troops.
I stumbled across this information while transcribing FOSTER family information from the State Centennial History of the County of Ross (Ohio).
On June 3, 1863, he (James C. Foster) was commissioned as captain of Company A Fifty-ninth regiment of colored troops which had recently been called into service. On June 18, 1864 he was given a commission as major of that regiment, in which capacity he served until the close of the war, being in command of the regiment for several months.
Curious about this cousin and his military service, I started digging and found his obituary.
Chillicothe Gazette (Chillicothe, OH)
Wednesday, August 10, 1927
Maj. Foster Is Summoned
One of Ross County’s Grand Old Men — Soldier, Former’ Statesman Dies, aged 85
Major James C. Foster died at his home near Higby at 4:30 this morning after an illness of some nine months, the result of his advancing years. Major Foster was the scion of one of Ross county’s pioneer families, his grandfather having migrated to Ross county and having taken up land in 1796, coming here from Maryland.
Major Foster was one of Franklin township’s and Ross county’s leading citizens, and occupied a high position in the esteem of all serious minded citizens in the city and county.
He was born may 3, 1842, on the Foster farm near Higby, and was in his 86th year at the time of his death. Major Foster was twice married, but both wives have preceded him to the grave. He is survived by the following sons and daughters; Mrs. H. J. DuBois, Ada Vause, Jean M., Harry L., James C. Jr., Mrs. e. S. Young and Mrs. E. O. Fremont.
He received his early education in the local schools, attended a military school in this city in 1859 and a commercial school in Cleveland in 1868.
When the civil war broke out in August 24, 1861, he enlisted in Company C of the 33rd Volunteer Infantry of Ohio and was transferred from the regiment the following September to the 53 regiment of infantry and earned his commission.
He was in a number of major battles of the war, and was assigned to recruiting service in Tennessee and aided in organizing the 59 regiment of U.S. Colored Infantry, in which he was promoted to majorship, which he held when he was mustered out.
He was a member of the Grand Army of the Republic and the Loyal Legion. In 1901 he was elected to represent Ross county in the general assembly, serving the term 1902 to 1904, and he was responsible for much wise legislation during his service in that body.
Primarily Major Foster was a farmer, one of the best in Ross county and for many years he was one of the chief supporters, and movers in the county fair association.
He was appointed as one of the
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original board of trustees for the memorial hall for Ross county and served on that body up to the time it passed out of existence by reason of a change in the law which gave place to the board which finally worked for the completion of the building in conjunction with the Ohio national guard.
Major Foster was an ardent and enthusiastic Republican in his political affiliations, but was never a biased partisan. As a man and friend he shone supreme and his kindness and charity will always be remembered by many who were favored by him in many ways.
The funeral will be held form the residence Friday afternoon at 2 p.m. and the burial will be made in the Caldwell cemetery.
Unfortunately, his obituary is very similar to what was published in the Centennial History. Thus, I turned to Google to see what I could learn about the 59th regiment.
- 59th United States Colored Infantry Regiment (Wikipedia)
- 59th Regiment, United States Colored Infantry (National Park Service)
- 59th US Colored Infantry (Slaves to Soldiers)
- 59th Regiment, United States Colored Infantry (FamilySearch)
- 59th U.S. Colored Infantry Regiment (Tennessee & the Civil War)
- “Remember Fort Pillow!” The 59th U.S. Colored Troops at Brice’s Crossroads (Dan Masters Civil War Chronicles)
- The 59th U.S. Colored Infantry (Beachcomber)
When I broadened my search to ‘civil war colored troops’, one of the top results was a link to the Ancestry database, U.S., Colored Troops Military Services Records, 1863-1865. When I searched this database for James FOSTER, I found quite a few records listed.
I would not have thought about searching for James Foster in this civil war database if I had not already found the details about his service record indicating his leadership role in the 59th regiment of Colored Troops.