Organized at Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Rome, Georgia, 1864.
Colonel R. D. Mussey, Commissioner for Organization of Colored Troops, stated that Major General George H. Thomas authorized the organization of this regiment at Chattanooga on March 2, 1864. On May 31, 1864, four companies of the 44th, under Colonel Lewis Johnson, were reported at Chattanooga. Colonel Mussey said the regiment moved to Rome, Georgia, about the middle of July and rapidly recruited up to the minimum. On August 31, the regiment was reported at Rome, and on September 30, as assigned, in the Post of Chattanooga.
Just when it moved to Dalton, Georgia, is uncertain, but Colonel Johnson, with the 44th, and detachments from other organizations, was in command at Dalton, on October 13, 1864, when the place was surrounded by the army of General John B. Hood as it moved up for Hood's invasion of Tennessee. After some skirmishing, Colonel Johnson, faced with overwhelming forces, surrendered. His report stated the garrison consisted of 650 muskets, one 12-pounder Napoleon, and one three-inch Rodman, damaged, total troops about 750, of whom 26 officers and 600 men were from the 44th. Some of the regiment were out on a foraging expedition, others recruiting, and a few escaped. The officers were paroled on October 15, and Johnson was back in Chattanooga on the 17th, where he reported he had between 200 and 300 of his regiment. Reports stated that many of the colored troops were returned as slaves to those who had been, or claimed to have been, their former masters.
The remnant of the regiment remained at Chattanooga until November 30, when it moved to Nashville as part of the 1st Colored Brigade, under Colonel Thomas J. Morgan, in the force which Major General James B. Steedman brought up from the District of the Etowah for the defense of Nashville. On the way up, a train on which were the 44th and two companies of the 14th Infantry, was disabled by the fire of one of General Nathan B. Forrest's batteries, at about 11:00 A.M. on December 2, 1864. The troops took refuge in Stockade Number Two, in which there was a small garrison, and remained under fire from artillery and rifle fire until 3:00 A.M. the next morning. They then made their way into Nashville but reported a loss of eight killed, 43 wounded, two officers and 37 men missing out of a total of 227 from the 44th engaged.
On December 10, at Nashville, the regiment reported 14 officers, 198 men present and equipped for duty. On December 15, the regiment was placed under the command of Colonel Shafter, of the 17th, and in conjunction with that regiment, took part in the charge that carried to Rains' Cut, on the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, on the left of the Federal lines. On the 16th, at Overton's Hill, Morgan's Brigade was in reserve, and did not take part in the actual charge on that position. After the Confederate lines were broken, the regiment took part in the pursuit through Brentwood to Franklin, and then assembled at Murfreesboro.
From this point, as part of General Steedman 5 forces it moved to Decatur, Alabama, by rail, where it took part in the engagement on December 27-28, which resulted in the occupation of Decatur by Federal troops. It then pushed on to Leighton, Alabama, from whence it started back to Chattanooga. En route it was halted, and joined Brigadier General Charles Cruft's Brigade in the attempt to run down and capture Confederate General H. B. Lyon's cavalry force. When Lyon escaped across the Tennessee River, the regiment returned to Chattanooga, and Colonel Morgan stated the brigade was broken up on January 12, 1865. General Steedman's report gave total casualties for the regiment during the campaign as one officer, two men killed; 27 wounded; two officers and 49 men missing.
On December 31, 1864, some men from the 44th were reported in a detachment from several regiments commanded by Lieutenant Dexter S. Munger, in Brigadier General Silas Casey's Provisional Brigade, Middle Military Division, Department of Washington, D. C., commanded by Major General Philip H. Sheridan.
The bulk of the regiment remained at Chattanooga, unassigned, until March 1, 1865, when the 1st Colored Brigade, under Colonel Morgan, was organized in the District of Etowah. The brigade was composed of the 14th, 18th, 43rd and 44th Colored Regiments. On April 30, Colonel Johnson was in command of the brigade and Lieutenant Colonel Webster of the regiment.
On May 28, 1865, General William T. Sherman wrote Major General H. W. Slocum, Commanding the Army of Georgia, that it had been reported there were many escaped prisoners from the 44th regiment serving as teamsters, officers' servants, etc., and that if there were any such in his army, to have them forwarded to their regiment at Chattanooga.
On July 12, 1865, Colonel Johnson's Brigade, of which the 44th was still a member, was designated the 2nd Brigade, 4th Division, District of East Tennessee. This was the last record of the regiment found in the Official Records. Dyer's Compendium states the division was later in the Department of Georgia, and that the regiment was mustered out of service April 30, 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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