Organized at Gallatin, Tennessee, November 1863.
A report dated October 10, 1864, by Colonel R. D. Mussey, Commissioner for Organization of Colored Troops, giving a report of what had been done before he assumed the office, stated that following the Battle of Chickamauga recruits came in so freely that Major Stearns decided to organize four other infantry regiments, the 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th, and that the 14th was organized at Gallatin; and on November 20, 1863, four companies were sent to Bridgeport, Alabama, for fatigue duty, but on February 1, 1864 went to Chattanooga, where the regiment was united and set to work on the fortifications.
On December 31, 1863, the 14th was reported in the District of Nashville, as part of the forces under Brigadier General Eleazer A. Paine, stationed at Gallatin and vicinity, with the regiment commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Thomas J. Morgan. A month later, with Morgan now a full colonel, the regiment was reported in the Post of Chattanooga, Colonel Marion C. Taylor. On March 10, 1864, Colonel Morgan was directed to take his regiment on a recruiting expedition up the Sequatchie Valley to Pikeville, and on to the Caney Fork and Calfkiller Rivers. His instructions were to impress no Negroes, but take such as volunteered, and bring them to Chattanooga where they would be added to the two regiments being organized at that place. On March 28, Colonel William B. Stokes, 5th Tennessee Cavalry, at Sparta, reported: "Lieutenant Colonel Corbin is here, with a portion of the 14th U. S. Colored Infantry, and is recruiting rapidly."
The regiment remained stationed at Chattanooga until December, 1864, with occasional expeditions out of Chattanooga and return. The first of these was in August, 1864, when the regiment formed part of the force sent from Chattanooga to the relief of the blockhouse at Dalton, Georgia, which was under attack by Major General Joseph Wheeler on August 14-15, 1864. In this affair the regiment took part in the charge which drove Wheeler's forces out of Dalton. Colonel Morgan reported: "The conduct of the entire regiment was good. It was its first encounter, and it evinced soldierly qualities; the men were brave, and the officers cool." In this engagement it lost one killed, two severely wounded. Company officers mentioned were Captain Rolph, of Company "E"; Captain Henry Romeyn and Lieutenant P. G. Thornton, of Company "B"; and Lieutenant Persons, acting Adjutant.
Monthly reports from May 2 through August 22, 1864 showed it with 29 officers, 711 men on May 2; 29 officers and 622 men on August 22, 1864. The regiment returned to Chattanooga after the Dalton affair, but was once again sent out from September 1 to 12 as a further consequence of Wheeler's raid, which had moved from Dalton on up into East Tennessee and across Middle Tennessee. The regiment moved to Murfreesboro, where it formed part of the force that cut off Colonel George G. Dibrell as he attempted to move from Sparta to overtake Wheeler's main force. Colonel Dibrell, being unable to break through the Federal lines, reversed his direction and moved through East Tennessee to Saltville, Virginia. The regiment then moved on down to Huntsville, and Athens, Alabama, where it formed part of the force under Colonel Streight as he pursued Wheeler's forces across the Tennessee River. On September 19, it reported 30 officers, 641 men present for duty.
On October 10, the regiment was at Fayetteville, under the orders of Major General Robert H. Milroy, but on the 12th General Milroy was directed to send it back to Chattanooga. General George H. Thomas, reporting to General W. T. Sherman as to the forces under his command on October 21, listed the 14th and 16th, about 1000 strong, as part of the garrison at Chattanooga.
After a brief stay at Chattanooga, the regiment was part of the force sent from Chattanooga to the relief of Colonel Charles C. Doolittle, at Decatur, Alabama, when he was attacked by General John B. Hood's army moving up for the invasion of Tennessee. The regiment, about 500 strong, under Colonel Morgan, reached Decatur on October 27, on the 28th charged and carried an enemy battery and spiked its guns, capturing 14 prisoners. In this action it suffered 55 casualties; two killed, 52 wounded, one missing. Major General R. S. Granger, who was in command, reported: "The action of the colored troops under Colonel Morgan was everything that could be expected or desired of soldiers. They were cool, brave, and determined; and under the heaviest fire of the enemy exhibited no signs of confusion."
On November 4, Major General James B. Steedman, at Chattanooga, asked if he could have the 14th returned to him, as he needed it badly. He was advised that it was out on an expedition to Courtland, Alabama, but that it would be sent to Chattanooga as soon as it returned. On November 14, at Chattanooga, it reported 693 effectives out of an aggregate of 904 present and absent.
The regiment left Chattanooga on November 30, 1864 as part of a detachment from the District of the Etowah, under General Steedman, for Nashville. Colonel Thomas J. Morgan was given command of the First Colored Brigade in this force, and the regiment was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Corbin. While en route, Companies "A" and "D" were part of the troops on a troop train which was fired on and derailed by one of General Forrest's batteries at Stockade Number 2, near Mill Creek, on the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad. The troops remained under fire for some hours, but made their way into Nashville under cover of darkness. The two companies of the 14th, numbering 80 men, lost two killed, five wounded, 18 missing. At Nashville, on December 10, 1864, the regiment reported 16 officers, 594 men present for duty, 948 present and absent.
In the battle of Nashville, December 15-16, 1864, the regiment lost four killed, 41 wounded, 20 missing for a total of 65 casualties. On the 15th, about 8:00 A.M. Colonel Morgan's Brigade advanced from the Murfreesboro Pike towards Riddle's Hill, on the right of the Confederate lines, but was driven back. About 11:00 A.M. it attacked and took an earthwork east of the Rains house, which position it held until the next morning. On the 16th, the brigade took part in the attack on Overton's Hill, but the 14th was assigned to support and protect the artillery, and did not take part in the charge up the hill.
Colonel Morgan, in his report of the battle, stated: "Lieutenant Colonel Corbin, 14th U.S. Colored Troops, does not possess sufficient courage to command brave men. Captain Baker in reality commanded the 14th Regiment on the 15th and 16th, and acquitted himself with great credit." Lieutenant Colonel Corbin was later tried by court-martial and "honorably acquitted" of this charge.
From Nashville, the regiment joined in the pursuit of General Hood's Army into Alabama, as far south as Leighton, Alabama. It then joined Brigadier General Charles Cruft in the fruitless chase after Brigadier General H. B. Lyon's Confederate Cavalry. According to Colonel Morgan, the 1st Colored Brigade was dissolved on January 12, 1865, and the regiment returned to Chattanooga.
On February 28, 1865, the regiment was reported at Bridgeport, Alabama, in the District of the Etowah. On March 8, a report stated that the 14th, 18th, 42nd and 44th U.S. Colored Troops had been organized into a Brigade under Colonel T. J. Morgan, of the 14th. On April 30, this brigade was still reported in the District of the Etowah, but was under the command of Colonel Lewis Johnson.
On July 20, 1865, the 14th was placed in Brevet Major General Charles Cruft's Brigade of the District of East Tennessee, with Headquarters at Greeneville, Tennessee. It was mustered out of service on March 26, 1866.
This unit history was extracted from Tennesseans in the Civil War, Vol 1. Copyrighted © 1964 by the “Civil War Centennial Commission of Tennessee” and is published here with their permission.
This history may not be republished for any reason without the written permission of the copyright owner.
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