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TN Library & Archives Gets U.S. Colored Infantry Letters

News release from Secretary of State’s office:
Glory, an Academy Award-winning movie released in 1989, documented the lives of African-American troops who served in the U.S. Colored Infantry during the Civil War. Now, for the first time, the Tennessee State Library and Archives (TSLA) has a collection of letters from officers who led one of those units.
Archivists from TSLA and the Tennessee State Museum are in the midst of a project, called Looking Back: The Civil War in Tennessee, in which they plan to visit every county in the state in search of Civil War era documents and artifacts. During the county visits, local citizens bring in items that the archivists electronically scan or digitally photograph.
This ongoing statewide project, in honor of Tennessee’s Civil War Sesquicentennial, allows for the digitization of historic family documents and artifacts for public access and educational use.
While working on that project, the TSLA staff received digital copies of a previously unknown collection of Civil War correspondence penned by officers in the 16th United States Colored Infantry. The collection, “Brother Charles: Letters Home to Michigan,” Civil War Correspondence of the Wadsworth Brothers, 1861-1865, features a rare collection of writings authored by two members of the 16th U. S. Colored Infantry, which was encamped in Clarksville from 1863-1865.
The letters were written between the fall of 1861 and December 1865 by two white Oberlin College students who left their studies to enlist in the Union Army.

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