Fighting for Freedom

The Emancipation Proclamation, issued January 1, 1863, authorized the recruiting of African Americans as United States soldiers. It inspired men, like brothers John and Arch Nesbitt, to join the U.S. Colored Troops and fight for their freedom. John Nesbitt enlisted on October 5, 1863, as a private in Co. H, 4th U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery Regiment. He served in Kentucky, Tennessee, and finally Arkansas, where he was discharged on February 25, 1866. Arch Nesbitt enlisted on August 24, 1864, in Co. G, 12th U.S. Colored Infantry, and in December fought in the Battle of Nashville.