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38th United States Colored Infantry Regiment
Active January 23, 1864 – January 25, 1867
Country United States
Branch Army
Type Infantry
Part of 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, XVIII Corps, Army of the James (August 1864 – December 1864)
1st Brigade, 3rd Division, XXV Corps (December 1864)
1st Brigade, 1st Division, XXV Corps (December 1864 – January 1866)

The 38th United States Colored Infantry Regiment was an African American unit of the Union Army during the American Civil War. A part of the United States Colored Troops, the regiment saw limited action in Virginia during the war and later served on the Texas frontier.

The 38th, organized in Virginia on January 23, 1864, served at Norfolk and Portsmouth in the Department of Virginia and North Carolina until June 1864, after which it was involved in operations against Petersburg and Richmond for the remainder of the war. The regiment participated in engagements at Chaffin's Farm on September 29-September 30, Deep Bottom on October 1 and Fair Oaks on October 27-October 28, 1864. Three members of the 38th, William H. Barnes, James H. Harris, and Edward Ratcliff, were awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions at Chaffin's Farm. The unit then served in the trenches north of the James River until the fall of Richmond in April 1865. The 38th occupied Richmond on April 3, 1865 and continued duty in the Department of Virginia through the end of the war and into May.

The 38th was moved to Texas between May 24 and June 6, 1865, where it would stay for the rest of its service. The unit saw duty at various points along the Rio Grande in the southern portion of the state, including Brownsville and Brazos Santiago, as well as at Indianola and Galveston on the gulf coast. Cathay Williams, the first recorded African-American female to serve in the U.S. military served with the 38th during this time, disguised as a male.

The 38th was mustered out on January 25, 1867 after three years of existence. The regiment lost a total of 237 men during its service; one officer and 42 enlisted men were killed or mortally wounded and two officers and 192 enlisted men died of disease.

See also[]

  • List of United States Colored Troops Civil War Units