Belleville Historical Society cleans graves of several Black Civil War veterans in Bloomfield

On June 13, while doing restoration work in Bloomfield Cemetery, the Belleville Historical Society came across the gravestone of Jacob Freeman, a Black Civil War veteran. The stone was in need of a cleaning and the society thought that it would make for a good Juneteenth commemoration. The society did some additional research and learned there were four other Black Civil War veterans buried in the cemetery. The society then went to work locating and cleaning the other stones. One veteran, James Sloane, was buried without a headstone, so the BHS created a mold to reproduce a regulation Civil War headstone for the man who served as a private in the 24th U.S. Colored Infantry Regiment. More than 178,000 Black men served in the Army and Navy during the Civil War, with a 20% death rate, much higher than that of white soldiers. During the war, 16 black soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor. The society plans a short dedication ceremony for Sloane’s headstone Saturday, June 22, at 11 a.m. in Bloomfield Cemetery, 316 Belleville Ave., near Bloomfield High School.

Seen here are before and after shots of the cleaning of one of the aforementioned stones.

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