Local historian and retired Washington High School teacher Paul LaRue, Washington Cemetery and the City of Washington C.H. were all recently featured in a video documenting the work of LaRue’s previous students and the work’s impact going forward.
Thanks to the efforts of these students in LaRue’s Washington High School research history class, the names of more than 100 African-American troops will be added to the Civil War Soldiers’ and Sailors’ monument in downtown Cleveland. The significant addition to the monument’s Roll of Honor is the result of nearly 20 years of historical research and verification work using modern methods. It began in 2002 with LaRue and his advanced placement history class students.
One of the class’s projects involved research on seven United States Colored Troops (USCT) veterans buried in a Washington Court House cemetery. Their work led to new government-issued military headstones to be installed on the graves, rightfully honoring those who fought for our country.
“The Cuyahoga County Soldiers and Sailors Monument began an initiative several years ago to recognize African-American Soldiers from Cuyahoga County who had not previously been recognized by the monument,” LaRue said. “In searching for data to help document these soldiers, they came across our website of data on African-American Civil War soldiers. We then partnered with the monument to share our information.”
The Cuyahoga County Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument — which memorializes the 9,000 American veterans who represented Cuyahoga County in the Civil War — announced the addition of 107 USCT to its Roll of Honor earlier this year. USCT regiments were composed primarily of African-American soldiers, although Caucasians and members of other minority groups also served with the units. Of the 9,000 names engraved on the walls, only around 20 are of African-Americans, however, an estimated 180,000 African-Americans served in the Civil War.
Located on Cleveland’s Public Square and dedicated nearly 125 years ago on July 4, 1894, the monument currently includes the names of 22 USCT veterans whose names were confirmed as part of the 1889 process that verified veterans from Cuyahoga County. Names have also been added over the years based on historical research and confirmation that have been set forth by the Monument Commission. Historical documentary evidence required to place all of the names that deserve to be included on the monument was simply not available in the 1890s.
“It was an honor for my students and myself to help recognize these forgotten heroes,” LaRue said. “Our work honoring African-American Civil War soldiers started nearly 20 years ago in Washington Cemetery. The opportunity for my students’ work to help honor a group of African-American Civil War veterans in Cleveland is a testament to the positive impact of service learning and community engagement. I am thrilled the Cuyahoga County Soldiers and Sailors Monument is working to recognize these too often overlooked and forgotten heroes. Two hundred thousand African-American soldiers and sailors fought for the Union cause during the Civil War; their sacrifice should be remembered.”
The video may be viewed online at ideastream.org/news/african-american-civil-war-vets-added-to-soldiers-and-sailors-monument. Within the video, LaRue and several other historians discuss the work that goes into adding names to the wall and explained in brief how USCT regiments came into existence.
The information in this article was provided by local historian and retired Washington High School teacher Paul LaRue.
Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy.