William Messley

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William Messley

First Sergeant William A. Messley (also known as Measley) of Company C, 62nd United States Colored Troops, posed for this portrait shortly after his enlistment in late 1863. The 62nd originated as the 1st Regiment Colored Infantry, Missouri Volunteers.

Messley and his fellow troopers spent most of the war in Louisiana and Texas, guarding the Gulf Coast and  preventing Southern efforts to export cotton, a cash crop on which the Confederacy relied for income. Their commander, Brig. Gen. William A. Pile, described the 62nd as “a well drilled and disciplined regiment and well fitted for field service”; however, Pile’s request that Black troops replace some of his ineffective white units was rejected by his superiors.

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