Rock Island National Cemetery honors 108th U.S. Colored Troops regiment

The Rock Island National Cemetery on Arsenal Island will host a ceremony next week to honor the soldiers of the 108th United States Colored Troops (USCT) regiment, who served during the Civil War. 

The ceremony, which is open to the public, will be at 10 a.m. Monday, June 20. The event will honor the 108th USCT, an organization comprised of local descendants of men from the USCT regiment and other community members committed to honoring the soldiers by sharing their stories have organized and are coordinating the ceremony. 

Guests are asked to bring their own lawn chairs.

The 108th USCT is one of 170 Civil War regiments made up 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 on 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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