Shoulder straps (pair)
Silk metal, wool
overall (each): 1/4 x 1 1/4 x 3 3/4 in. ( 0.6 x 3.2 x 9.5 cm )
Pair of Captain's shoulder straps, with gold metal thread embroidered double bars at each end and border against blue velvet ground, sewn on to wool.
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, suffered wounds in 1862, and was promoted to a captain after his recovery.
Gift of Mrs. Frederick Leishman
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.