335 Middle St.
Please join the New Bern Historical Society at its February 7, 2018, Lunch & Learn at The Chelsea Restaurant at 11:30 am to learn more about Civil War and the crucial role of New Bern’s 35th USCT in helping to shape our region, state, and nation. Special guest speaker Bernard George will discuss the legacy of 35th USCT in the struggle for freedom and citizenship during the American Civil War. George will combine pictures, historical documents and personal vignettes to educate the public and honor the sacrifices of these courageous soldiers.
More than 180,000 African Americans fought in the Civil War for the Union Army. New Bern served as the recruiting headquarters for enlisting more than 5,000 soldiers in the United States Colored Troops (USCT). The First North Carolina Colored Volunteers (35th USCT), organized 1863 in historic New Bern, was the first regiment of black Union soldiers formed in North Carolina and one of the first in the South. Commanded by Col. James Beecher (brother of famed abolitionist and author Harriet Beecher Stowe) and staffed by Major John V. DeGrasse, an internationally trained African American medical officer, the 35th USCT is a uniquely significant story that often does not receive the scholarly attention it deserves.
As Bernard explains “May 17, 1863, is an important date to New Bern, North Carolina and to the nation because it marks the arrival of thirteen Union officers and a civilian recruiter in New Bern to organize the “African Brigade” — the country’s first official major military unit largely made up of escaped slaves and contraband. This daunting military and social experiment would settle once and for all the unanswered question of the time, “Could the slave be trained to intelligently and heroically fight as well as his white counterparts?” By the end of the Civil War, the answer was a resounding “yes” as United States Colored Troops (USCT) had valiantly fought and died in every major campaign of 1864-1865 except Sherman’s invasion of Georgia. As further evidence of the military value of black troops to the federal war efforts, on March 13, 1865, the Congress of the Confederate States of America passed and President Jefferson Davis signed into law General Order 14 allowing the enlistment of slaves with the promise of freedom.”
Admission: The cost is $18 for Historical Society members and $20 for non-members, which includes a delicious Chelsea entree, bread, dessert, iced tea, and coffee. Reservations and meals must be paid in advance, either online from the Tickets page or by calling the New Bern Historical Society at (252) 638-8558. Please select your menu option when ordering.