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The Court Martial of William Walker
November 19, 1863 | Hilton Head, South Carolina
On November 19, 1863 led by a Sgt William Walker, Samson Read and the members of the 3rd Regiment; United States Colored Troops, stacked their arms and accouterments in the tent of Colonel Augustus Bennett. This was done in protest to the unfair wages the colored troops received. Upon enlisting into the USCT, the men were promised thirteen dollars per month plus food and clothing. Instead, they were given ten dollars minus three dollars for clothing which left them with seven dollars a month. Sgt Walker informed Colonel Bennett that the men, “would not do duty any longer for seven dollars per month”.
January 1864, Sgt. Walker was tried for leading an alleged mutiny in his company. On January 12, 1864 Samson Read testified for the Defense in William Walker's court martial. Reading the transcript Samson's statements was an effort to save his Sgt, an effort that was of no avail. William Walker was found guilty of mutiny and was executed on February 29,1864. Four months after his execution Congress passed a law giving the USCT $13 a month retroactive to December 1863, but this law only pertained to men who were freed before April 19, 1861and enlisted and mustered into military service between December 1862 and June 1864. Since most of the men in the USCT were not freed before April 19, 1861 protest throughout different troops continued. On March 3, 1865 Congress finally put the equal pay issue to rest by authorizing equal pay for all black soldiers retroactive to their enlistment date. There is no documentation in Samson's Descriptive Book stating that he received the retroactive pay.