Luke Letcher (blackunionsoldiers)

(b. circa 1845 – d. 1865)

Born around 1845, Luke Letcher was one of thirteen people enslaved by the Montgomery County farmer Samuel Riggs. On March 22, 1864 Letcher enlisted in Baltimore as a private with the 39th Regiment, U.S.C.T., of the Maryland Volunteer Infantry. He served in Company B along with other soldiers from Montgomery County. When Luke Letcher joined the 39th, he left behind five other slaves with the Letcher surname: John Letcher, age 23; Alcinda Letcher, age 25; Hannah Letcher, age 17; Emily Letcher, age 15; and Adolphine Letcher, age 13.

The 39th participated in the Wilderness Campaign as well as the Siege of Petersburg in 1864 and the Battle of the Crater. They also fought in the battles for Fort Fisher and Wilmington in 1865. Luke Letcher must have distinguished himself in particular during his service, since he had been promoted to the rank of sergeant by the end of the war. Unfortunately the details surrounding his promotion are unknown.

On August 29, 1865 Sergeant Letcher died from typhoid fever in the Regimental Hospital in New Bern, North Carolina. He was interred at New Bern National Cemetery, one of 3,500 Union soldiers buried there. His grave stands in section 14, grave 2548. In 1998 the African American Civil War Memorial in Washington, D.C. commemorated Sergeant Letcher among the 209,145 black soldiers listed on the monument. His name appears on plaque C-54 on the Wall of Honor.