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Ellicott City in Howard County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Decatur Dorsey

Civil War Hero

 
 
Decatur Dorsey Marker image. Click for full size.
By Christopher Busta-Peck, February 24, 2008
1. Decatur Dorsey Marker
Inscription. Howard County native Decatur Dorsey was one of only sixteen African American soldiers to received the Medal of Honor for courage under fire during the Civil War. Sgt. Dorsey, of Company B, 39th United States Colored Troops, earned his medal at the Battle of the Crater at Petersburg, Virginia, on July 30, 1864. He bore the regiments flag during the charge through the Crater to the Confederate line. According to his Medal of Honor citation, Dorsey "planted his colors on the Confederate works in advance of his regiment, and when the regiment was driven back to the Union works he carried the colors there and bravely rallied the men." Regimental color-bearers were especially courageous, because they could not defend themselves and were conspicuous targets for enemy sharpshooters.

African Americans were not allowed to serve as soldiers in the United States Army until authorized by the Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863. Even then, they had to fight for the right to fight, being first relegated to the garrison, guard, and labor details. Once in combat, however, black troops proved their valor time and again.

Seven African American regiments (called U.S. Colored Troops or USCTs) were raised in Maryland: the 4th, 7th, 9th, 19th, 30th, 39th and 118th. The Maryland General Assembly offered bounty money to each man who enlisted as well as to the owners who freed their slaves for service. Many slaves, however, freed
Decatur Dorsey Marker and Ellicott City Color School image. Click for full size.
By Christopher Busta-Peck, February 24, 2008
2. Decatur Dorsey Marker and Ellicott City Color School
themselves from their masters and ran away to join the Union forces. After the war, surviving veterans were among those who built this school in the 1880s.
 
Erected by Maryland Civil War Trails.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Maryland Civil War Trails, and the Medal of Honor Recipients marker series.
 
Location. 39° 16.128′ N, 76° 48.612′ W. Marker is in Ellicott City, Maryland, in Howard County. Marker is at the intersection of Main Street and Rogers Avenue, on the left when traveling west on Main Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Ellicott City MD 21043, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The National Road (approx. half a mile away); MaryLandscapes (approx. half a mile away); Ellicott’s Mills (approx. half a mile away); New Fire Station & Transit Terminal (approx. half a mile away); Ellicott City Volunteer Fire Department (approx. half a mile away); Jonathan Ellicott Building (approx. half a mile away); Friends Meeting House and Graveyard (approx. 0.6 miles away); Baltimore Regional Trail (approx. 0.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Ellicott City.
 
More about this marker. On the lower left is a photograph of a company of the 4th USCT. On the right is a photo of an Army version of the Medal of Honor.
 
Also see . . .
Ellicott City Colored School image. Click for full size.
By Christopher Busta-Peck
3. Ellicott City Colored School
 Decatur Dorsey's grave at Findagrave.com. (Submitted on March 12, 2008, by Christopher Busta-Peck of Shaker Heights, Ohio.)
 
Additional comments.
1. hometown of Decatur Dorsey
Decatur Dorsey was born a slave in New London, MD. His brother (my great grandfather) started a church in New London which still stands. He was a runaway slave who entered the army in Howard County. My Grandmother raised me and she often told stories of Decatur and thought he was killed in the war until his grave was found in NJ in the late 80's or early 90's. I lived in New Jersey during this time and no one bothered to contact us for any info. I was Cmdr of an American Post in the 80' and could have been contacted very easily. Being a soldier I, like to keep the records straight. I also doubt that Decatur attend school in Howard county. My grandmother was born in 1870 and died in 1955. There are a lot of Dorsey's in Howard county with some being relatives of mine. If anyone knows of a Sgt. Joe Dorsey please have him contact me.


Maurice H. Dorsey
SFC USA Retired Note To Editor only visible by Contributor and editor    
    — Submitted April 10, 2012, by Maurice H. Dorsey of Butler, Pennsylvania.

 
Categories. African AmericansWar, US Civil
 
The Army Version of the Medal of Honor image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, June 7, 2014
4. The Army Version of the Medal of Honor
Close-up of photo on marker
Company of the 4th USCT image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, June 7, 2014
5. Company of the 4th USCT
Close-up of photo on marker
Sign for the Ellicott City Colored School image. Click for full size.
By Christopher Busta-Peck
6. Sign for the Ellicott City Colored School
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on February 25, 2008, by Christopher Busta-Peck of Shaker Heights, Ohio. This page has been viewed 2,348 times since then and 103 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on February 25, 2008, by Christopher Busta-Peck of Shaker Heights, Ohio.   4, 5. submitted on June 10, 2014, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland.   6. submitted on February 26, 2008, by Christopher Busta-Peck of Shaker Heights, Ohio. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.
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