U.S. Colored Troops Monument unveiled at Fort Defiance Civil War Park

unveiling U.S. Colored Troops Monument in Clarksville
Posted at 7:20 PM, Jun 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-19 20:20:31-04

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A monument to the U.S. Colored Troops (USCT) was unveiled at Fort Defiance Civil War Park and Interpretive Center on Juneteenth.

Hundreds of people gathered to participate in a ceremony filled with speeches, music, poems and dance in honor of the USCT in Clarksville.

crowd gathered for USCT monument in Fort Defiance Civil War Park in Clarksville

During the Civil War era, Clarksville served as a recruitment center for escaped slaves who joined the Union Army, hoping to win their freedom. More than 20,000 USCTs from Tennessee served in the war.

The monument project was begun just over a year ago when Nick Nicholson, president of Mount Olive Historical Preservation Society, was contacted by Phyllis Smith inquiring if the Society would be interested in a USCT soldier monument.

The mold for the soldier was used in three other U.S. locations, and this was the final one created. The caste had been scheduled to be destroyed the day after this monument was made.

The artist who made the caste was the same artist who created Tennie — Tennessee Triumph in Clarksville's Public Square.

U.S. Colored Troops monument in Clarksville

Mt. Olive Historical Preservation Society Board Member Tyler Nolting opened the ceremony, followed by an invocation by Larry Wells, and the National Anthem was sung by Vietnam Veteran Nettie Thomas of the Women Veterans of America Chapter 47.

Nicholson thanked County Mayor Jim Durrett and City Mayor Joe Pitts for their assistance and their staff's assistance in helping the event to be realized. He also thanked the hard work of the members of Mount Olive Society, but especially the late Geneva Bell for her tenacious spirit in laying the groundwork for the Society's foundation.

Durrett thanked everyone involved and said that this type of work is exactly what was envisioned when the Montgomery County Public Art Ad Hoc Committee was started.

Pitts thanked the City Parks and Recreation Team for their hard work and Dee Boaz who, along with her late husband Sam Boaz, donated the land for Fort Defiance.

A reflection on the history of the USCT was delivered by City Councilman Joe Shakeenab, followed by the formal unveiling of the monument.

Theatrical pieces and dances were performed by Lucas Blair, Albert Nolting, Mikhalia Fergeson, and Karlos Klegg.

Musician Michael Rix from Nashville sang “Fighting for Their Day” before closing remarks, which were followed by background music by the Cumberland Winds.

You can watch the full dedication ceremony in the Facebook video link below:

Major donors for the monument came from the North Central Institute, the Montgomery County Public Art Ad Hoc Committee, LPCE Nicholson Leadership Foundation, Ms. Phyllis Smith and the Clarksville Arts & Heritage Development Council.