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The African American Civil War Memorial, the only national memorial of its kind, commemorates the more than 200,000 soldiers of the U.S. Colored Troops who served during the Civil War (1861-1865). Their names are inscribed on the Wall of Honor alongside the Spirit of Freedom sculpture by Ed Hamilton. The memorial, designed by Washington architects Devrouax and Purnell with site design by Ed Dunson & Associates, was unveiled in 1998. The African American Civil War Museum is located nearby at 12th and U streets. The museum offers exhibits, videos, and programs. Its African American Civil War Memorial Freedom Foundation Registry collects documentation related to members of the U.S. Colored Troops. To date, more than 2,000 descendants have deposited family trees, letters, and other relevant documents. Visitors are invited to search for information on ancestors who may have served. The museum also offers access to the National Park Service Civil War Soldiers and Sailors website. This database supplies information on individual black troops, their regiments, and also 384 major Civil War battles.

In 1862 President Abraham Lincoln sanctioned formation of fully armed African American regiments in response to increasing sympathy for abolition and also as a military necessity. Enslaved persons along with the formerly enslaved and free blacks rushed to volunteer, while white officers sought appointments to lead black troops. In all 7,000 white officers joined together in military service with 209,145 black troops.

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