These soldiers were a unit of the United States Colored Troops (USCT) of the Union Army during the Civil War. They were just a few of the nearly 200,000 African-American volunteers--freedmen and escaped slaves—who, along with volunteers from Canada, the Caribbean, and Africa, served as the USCT, which made up 10% of the Union Army. They helped save the Union and fought bravely to end slavery. Forty thousand gave their lives, suffering the highest casualty rate of any group in the war. Frederick Douglass, the great abolitionist and writer, himself an escaped slave, said, "He who would be free must himself strike the blow." The USCT was truly the heroic embodiment of that philosophy.