Picture courtesy of
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By Carl A. Pierce
(click picture to enlarge)
Interpreter/Storyteller Willis Phelps in the persona of "Pvt.
James H. Elbert
"C" Company 8th United States Colored Infantry
One of the “Five Heroes of Polktown,”
James H. Elbert, 8th Infantry. He was 24 when he enlisted in
September of 1863. He followed his fellow Delawarean free blacks
into the Civil War. James H. Elbert fought in many battles
before being wounded at Darby Town Road in Virginia (Petersburg).
When sent home to recuperate from his wounds, Pvt. Elbert stayed
too long (no one told him to come back) and was charged with being
absent without leave (AWOL), put in prison, but found not guilty.
Pvt James H. Elbert of ‘C’ Company lost 300 of his comrades in the
Battle of “Olustee, Florida. Today his gravestone can be viewed in
the African Union Cemetery at Polktown near Delaware City. It
reads, “James H. Elbert, Co ‘C’, 8th U.S.C.T.
Source: David Orr and Willis Phelps,
members of “Friends of the African Union Cemetery”.