Companies A-E of the 37th Regiment U.S.C. Infantry were organized at Norfolk, Va., during the winter of 1863 and 1864 by Lt. Col. A. G. Chamberlain. The remaining companies were organized before November 1864. Significant numbers of North Carolina blacks from Craven, Jones, Onslow, Beaufort, Carteret, and other nearby counties enlisted in the Union army at New Bern and were assigned to this regiment. The first five companies took part in the seige of Petersburg (Va.) in May 1864. The regiment remained in southern Virginia until December 1864 when it was ordered to join the first campaign against Fort Fisher (N.C.) under Gen. Benjamin F. Butler. It then returned to Virginia until the second expedition against Fort Fisher (Jan. 1865) under Maj. Gen. Alfred H. Terry, during which it disrupted communication between Fort Fisher and other Confederate forces in the vicinity. The regiment later joined Gen. Terry in the capture of Wilmington. Joining Gen. William T. Sherman's army at Mount Olive, N.C., the regiment remained under his command until the end of the war. After the surrender, the regiment was first assigned to Goldsboro, N.C., and then to provost duty in Wilmington. In late 1865, companies F, I, and K were ordered to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, near Fort Macon, while the remaining companies moved nearer the mouth of the Cape Fear River.
The regimental history includes military biographies of its officers: Brev. Brig. Gen. Nathan Goff, Jr., Lt. Col. A. G. Chamberlain, Maj. James Croft, Maj. Philip Weinman, Maj. William A. Cutler, and Brev. Maj. Constantin Nitzsche. After a comprehensive introduction, including a list of battles in which the regiment participated, the book is arranged by company, with separate listings of officers, non-commissioned officers, and privates, generally in alphabetical order. Each entry gives the date and place of enlistment of the individual plus notations on his service career. These entries are quite detailed for officers, and for enlisted personnel include such items as desertion, discharge, promotion or reduction in rank, court-martial, and death. Generally, there is no indication of cause ofdeath, but some are noted killed in action or death due to diseases such as dropsy or typhoid fever. Enlistees were mostly from the Norfolk area of Virginia or the coastal areas of North Carolina from Roanoke Island to Wilmington.
For related material, see Richard E. Rogers, Jr., Collection, Collection #248; William L. Horner Collection, Collection #265; and Frederick C. Douglass Papers, Collection #323.