More than 100 former slaves who fought for the Union in the Civil War but are buried in a mass grave were honored on Memorial Day amid an effort to identify each of the once-unknown soldiers.
The men of the 56th United States Colored Infantry were initially buried on a Mississippi River island after dying in 1866 from cholera before their remains were relocated in 1939 to Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery south of St. Louis.
The St. Louis African American History and Genealogy Society is leading an effort to honor those soldiers after a local historian uncovered their names. Group members recited each of the 173 names at a Monday graveside ceremony. A grave marker with those names will be added to the 56th Infantry’s burial site later this summer.