"We Fought for Our Freedom" Exhibit

Through – Feb 28, 2023
Tuesdays-Saturdays, 10 AM–5 PM

Free – $13.00

Reckoning Inc. is partnering with the Roots 101 African-American Museum for a photographic exhibit entitled We Fought for Our Freedom: Kentucky’s African-American Civil War Soldiers. The photo exhibit will remain at the Roots 101 museum through the end of Black History Month, February 2023.

The photos in the exhibit are all of the soldiers who served in the Union Army’s 108th U.S. Colored Infantry Regiment, which was mustered in Louisville in June 1864. The regiment consisted predominantly of formerly enslaved men from Kentucky and served with distinction guarding Confederate prisoners of war at the Rock Island military prison in Illinois.

For Black men in Kentucky, enlisting in the Union Army was a difficult and often dangerous proposition. Kentucky was the last state in the Union to allow Black men to join the Army, whether enslaved or free. And even after it became legal in the summer of 1864, it was still a deeply unpopular policy among many white Kentuckians, with some using deadly force to keep enslaved men from enlisting. It was also treacherous for enslaved men to travel through the state to enlistment sites, as they could be caught by “slave catchers” who were paid bounties to return enslaved people to their enslavers.

And yet, nearly 24,000 Black men from Kentucky braved these challenges and joined the Union Army, with over 44% of eligible Black men enlisting, the highest percentage of any state. Among them were five brothers who had been enslaved by different members of the Mudd family in Washington and Marion Counties. Their names were Jack, Harrison, George, Allen, and Charles Mudd, with Charles being one of the soldiers whose photographs will be featured in the Roots 101 exhibit.

Separately, over a six-month period, each of them escaped their respective enslavers and traveled to either Lebanon or Louisville to enlist, mostly serving in different Army regiments of the U.S. Colored Infantry. Jack was the first to enlist, joining the 107th Regiment on May 18, 1864. Then Charles joined the 108th, George joined the 109th, and eldest brothers Allen and Harrison ended up in the 123rd.

To explore the research we have done into the lives of these and other Black Civil War soldiers from the Louisville area, including archival documents and detailed family trees, please visit our Kentucky U.S. Colored Troops Database.


Now through – Feb 28
10 AM–5 PM


4 and under      FREE
5-12                   $10.00
13+                     $13.00
Military               $8.00
65+                       $8.00


Roots 101 African American Museum

124 N. First St.
Louisville, KY 40202
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Phone (502) 384-1940

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