Eli Truly, USCT
Eli Truly, 1814-1877
Eli Truly served as a Private in Company C the 31st. Regiment Infantry of the United States Colored Troops (USCT). Truly, along with Edward Young, are the two black Union soldiers buried in Garrett County’s Oakland Cemetery. They are among the eighty-three veterans of the Civil War interred in the cemetery, thirteen of which are Confederate. According to his military records, Truly was born in Virginia and prior to his enlistment in Washington, D.C. was employed as a laborer.
Truly and Young relocated to Garrett County after the Civil War where they took secured jobs as servants. The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad had reached Oakland as early as 1851, and the area was beginning to develop as a destination point for those seeking respite in the cool mountain air. The county itself, named after John W. Garrett who was then serving as the President of the B&O Railroad, was officially established in 1872.
Eli Truly’s 31st Regiment was organized at Hart’s Island, New York in April 1864. They were attached to the Army of the Potomac through September, 1864, and then eventually under the Department of Texas through November, 1865. Along with serving as guards on trains of the Army of the Potomac through the Wilderness, the Regiment was involved in numerous campaigns. In Virginia, these included the campaign from the Rapidan River to the James River, the Battle of Cold Harbor, the siege of Petersburg and Richmond (including the mine explosion, also known as the Battle of the Crater), the Appomattox Campaign and more. The Regiment was also on-site at the surrender of Confederate General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865. At that time they were serving under the Union Army’s Department of Virginia, just prior to assignment to the Department of Texas for duty on the Rio Grande.
The Regiment was mustered out of service in November 1865. During its service 3 officers and 48 enlisted men were mortally wounded, while 1 officer and 123 enlisted men were lost to disease, for a total of 175 men.
A total of 178,895 United States Colored Troops served during the Civil War.
Photograph - Albert Feldstein
In researching additional information on Eli Truly's regiment for this page, we noted that there was no 31st. Regiment USCT Cavalry, as indicated on his gravestone. There was, however, a 31st Regiment USCT Infantry. Further research on Eli Truly, as noted in the sources below, seem to indicate that he did indeed belong to that regiment.
In Oakland, Md., tradition demands a Memorial pause for those departed Dan Rodricks, Baltimore Sun, May 25, 2015
The National Park Service, The Civil War, Battle Unit Details, United States Colored Troops, 31st Regiment, United States Colored Infantry
The National Park Service, The Civil War, United States Colored Troops, Eli Truly
The Civil War Archive, Union Regimental Index, United States Colored Troops, Infantry
Allegany County, Maryland
African Americans, History; Garrett County (Md.), History.
Allegany County (Md.), 1890-2008