A Soldier's Story: Sergeant Henry Adams


Sergeant Henry Adams was born enslaved in 1843 in Jasper County, Georgia. His owners relocated to a plantation in DeSoto Parrish, where he remained throughout the Civil War, achieving his freedom on May 26, 1865, the day the city of Shreveport, Lousiana, surrendered to Union Forces. 

Sergeant Adams initially worked as a delivery man but was frustrated with the lack of work for formerly enslaved people and joined the US Army in September 1866. He was assigned to the 38th Colored Infantry Regiment and served throughout the Southern United States during the Reconstruction. He left the Army in 1869, at the end of his contract.

He returned to the Shreveport area, working as a woodcutter and plantation manager. Sergeant Henry Adams also began working on civil rights. In 1870, he and others created "The Committee," a group of individuals focused on improving the conditions of the former enslaved.   The Committee evolved into the Colonization Council (also known as the Exodusters) in 1874, when they realized that the civil rights issues in the South were unlikely to improve soon.

Sergeant Adams ultimately relocated to New Orleans after his activism made it challenging to live in Shreveport. He initially encouraged the creation of a black colony in Kansas. He testified to a US Senate Committee about the conditions of the South and the need to create an area where people of African descent could live. Unfortunately, the colony in Kansas struggled, and Sergeant Henry Adams began talking of trying to re-establish a colony in Liberia.

The records disappear for Sergeant Adams after 1884, and his remaining life remains a mystery.


a.d. elliott is a wanderer, writer, and photographer currently living in Salem, Virginia. 

In addition to the travel writings at www.takethebackroads.com, you can also read her book reviews at www.riteoffancy.com and US military biographies at www.everydaypatriot.com

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