SHARING THE STORIES OF NORTHWEST CONNECTICUT'S AFRICAN AMERICAN CIVIL WAR SOLDIERS
The Hills, Westchester County, New York
The Hills Community, c. 1860
Private William Glasgow (or Glascow or Glascoe) was born in Trenton, New Jersey and was residing in “The Hills,” an African American enclave in White Plains, New York, when the Civil War broke out. In the 1860 census, 191 persons of color were listed as living in The Hills. As New York did not at that time sponsor African American Regiments, sixteen men from The Hill crossed the border into Litchfield County and joined the 29th Connecticut. One of these men was William Glasgow, who formally enlisted into Company G of the 29th regiment in Bridgeport, Connecticut on December 28th, 1863. He gave his residence as Salisbury and his occupation as laborer. He was 22 years old, and 5 feet and 8.5 inches tall with black hair. Glasgow’s service is a reminder that the 29th Connecticut - like the famed 54th Massachusetts - was made up of African American men from across the North. These regiments provided black men with an opportunity to serve their country, fight in a war against slavery, and seek economic opportunities.
A mobile Civil War hospital
Glasgow was wounded in the left thigh by a gunshot on October 27th, 1864 in a battle near Kell House, outside Richmond, Virginia. He was “sent to Flying Hospital” a mobile medical unit that was devised in part by Clara Barton at the 10th Corps hospital. The flying hospital allowed surgeons and medical staff to get close to the front lines during the Richmond-Petersburg Campaign. At the flying hospital, a surgeon amputated Glasgow’s “left leg lower third, the result of a line shot fracture.” That Glasgow survived and returned to his wife and two children was likely a result of the rapid medical care he received from the flying hospital. He was treated before infection could set in. Glasgow spent the remainder of the war at the general hospital at Fort Monroe, Virginia, and was mustered out of service on August 7, 1865. Glasgow applied for a pension, as his war wounds prevented him from working. An inspection determined that he was only able to do ⅔ of what he could do before, as his body was now ⅓ disabled. Glasgow’s pension records reveal that he was illiterate - he signed his name with an “X” - and that he did not know how to properly spell his name. Glasgow disappears from the records after the war, but one can speculate that he returned to his wife and children in The Hills.
For more on The Hills community in the Civil War, see Edythe Ann Quinn, Freedom Journey: Black Civil War Soldiers and the Hills Community.