Shoulder straps (pair)
Silk, metal, wool
overall (each): 3/8 x 1 1/4 x 3 1/4 in. ( 1 x 3.2 x 8.3 cm )
Pair of handmade Lieutenant's shoulder straps; dark blue velvet ground across the center with metal thread embroidered bars at each end and border around; lined with wool and burlap.
Nearly three-quarters of the black men of eligible age volunteered for the Union army during the American Civil War. Because white soldiers did not trust them in actual combat, most black soldiers were assigned to support roles, though they sometimes engaged with the enemy. New York registered 4,125 soldiers in its three black regiments, the 20th, 26th, and 31st United States Colored Troops. Trained at Riker's and Hart's islands in the East River in early 1864, they were dispatched to Louisiana, South Carolina, and Texas, respectively. Almost all of the commissioned officers in U.S. Colored Troops regiments were white. These hand-made shoulder straps were worn by David J. Pilsworth (1841-1895) when he served with the 20th Regiment, U.S.C.T., 1863-1865. Pilsworth enlisted as a private, but was promoted to a lieutenant, and later, captain of the U.S.C.T.
Gift of Mrs. Frederick Leishman
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.