RI National Cemetery to host 108th Colored Troops regiment honors

USCT Kendrick Allen was born enslaved in Anderson County, Kentucky. Evidence suggests that he escaped to join the Union Army in 1864 and spent two years in the 108th U.S. Colored Troops at various posts, Including as a guard at Rock Island Prison Barracks. CREDIT ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL ARCHIVES

The Rock Island National Cemetery will host a ceremony honoring the soldiers of the 108th United States Colored Troops (USCT) in a ceremony Wednesday, June 19 at 10 a.m.

The 108th USCT, an organization composed of local descendants of men from the USCT regiment and other community members committed to honoring the soldiers by sharing their stories, has organized and are coordinating the ceremony on Arsenal Island

Guests are asked to bring their own lawn chairs.

The keynote speaker will be Command Sgt. Maj. James E. Brown, command sergeant major, U.S. Army Garrison Rock Island Arsenal. Also speaking will be Shellie Moore Guy. She is a descendant of one of the 108th USCT buried in the Rock Island National Cemetery. The ceremony will also feature poetry by Johnnie Woods and a vocal performance by Shawn Bolton.

The 108th USCT is one of 170 Civil War regiments composed of formerly enslaved and free black men who served during the American Civil War. The regiment was formed in Kentucky and organized on June 20, 1864 in Louisville, Kentucky.

After garrison and guard duty at various points in Kentucky, the regiment was transferred to Rock Island Prison Barracks at Rock Island, Illinois (now the site of Rock Island Arsenal). The 108th arrived on the post on Sept. 24, 1864 and served as guards at the prison that held Confederate prisoners of war.

On May 30, 1865 the 108th left the Rock Island Prison Barracks and transferred to Vicksburg, Mississippi. 

While at Rock Island, 50 men from the regiment died from various illnesses or infections. Those men are buried at Rock Island National Cemetery. During the duration of their service the regiment lost more than 200 men.

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