W.G. - The Opium-addicted Pistol Toting Preacher Who Raised the First Federal African American Union Troops

William Burtch


The United States in the mid-1800s boiled with conflict and promise. The bloody Civil War raged. A ruminating President sat in the White House. William Gould Raymond (“W.G.”) was as complicated...

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The United States in the mid-1800s boiled with conflict and promise. The bloody Civil War raged. A ruminating President sat in the White House.

William Gould Raymond (“W.G.”) was as complicated as the times. His life a mosaic of faith, addiction, health setbacks, his sprawling family, service as a Union Army officer, and then as a Lincoln-appointed hospital chaplain.

W.G.’s place in history, though, stands as the initial commanding officer responsible for raising what would become the 1st United States Colored Troops (U.S.C.T.) of the District of Columbia.

This initiative was directly authorized by President Abraham Lincoln, with the goal of establishing the first federal regiments of African American Union soldiers. The troops and companies W.G. and others recruited waged perhaps the most successful battle by African American soldiers in the Civil War.

A political turf struggle erased W.G. Raymond’s spirited troop-recruiting campaign from official military records, distorting history to this day. History that includes the account of the courageous first Black recruits prior to the establishment of the Bureau of Colored Troops.

Much of this telling of W.G. Raymond’s story is based on his meticulous autobiography Life Sketches and Faith Work. Other pieces are provided by Civil War scholars, particularly those dedicated to the story of African American participation in the Civil War, in the Union Army, through the U.S.C.T.

by  Donna Burtch & William Burtch
Page Count: 118
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Publish Date: April 30, 2022
Imprint: Sunbury Press
Genre: History

HISTORY / United States / Civil War Period (1850-1877)
HISTORY / United States / State & Local / Middle Atlantic

What Readers are Saying:

 "Sibling authors Donna and William Burtch have unearthed a gem of a family story--and now bring it to the broader audience it richly deserves."  - Michael Punke, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Revenant and Ridgeline

“A riveting account of a Baptist chaplain who stepped up as the first leader of Black troops to defend the Union cause during the Civil War, only to have that role erased by the War Department. This compelling work by Donna Burtch and William Burtch is certain to cause a reevaluation of a lost piece of U.S. history.” - Ken Gormley, New York Times bestselling author & President of Duquesne University

"A thorough and engaging bio of an obscure but pivotal player in some of the most important events in America’s nineteenth century. From itinerant ministry, to enforcing martial law, raising the 1st U.S. Colored Troops in the Civil War, battling addiction, and faith healing, W. G. Raymond’s story is a vividly rendered window into an era when men and women deeply believed, and acted boldly on their faith." -  David Poyer, USA Today bestselling author of Thunder on the Mountain & Heroes of Annapolis

"General audiences will be fascinated by William Gould Raymond’s personal story, but they will also benefit from the multiple lessons in United States history that are much needed for us to better understand our nation and citizenry today."  - Kelly D. Mezurek, author of For Their Own Cause: The 27th United States Colored Troops

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