For more than two years, Wilmington resident Fred Johnson and a group of concerned citizens have been working to get official recognition for almost 500 African American soldiers who served during the Civil War and are believed to be buried in the National Cemetery, located at 2011 Market Street.
That work finally paid off earlier this spring as the state approved erecting a North Carolina Highway Historical Marker at the cemetery to recognize the efforts of what was then known as the "United States Colored Troops" or USCT. The marker was unveiled during a ceremony at the Market Street entrance to the cemetery. Several of the soldiers' descendants were in attendance.
According to the NC Office of Archives and History, several hundred USCT soldiers who served in the Union Army are buried in the Wilmington National Cemetery, although the exact number is unknown. Official records indicate the burial of 92 USCT members in 1865 after the successful capture of Fort Fisher. Several hundred more USCT soldiers' remains were moved to the cemetery between 1867 and 1882, the vast majority in unmarked graves. This is the largest USCT burial ground in North Carolina.