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William Messley

William Messley

Photo: Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield, a unit of the National Park Service

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  • 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.