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Christian Abraham Fleetwood (1840–1914) was born in Baltimore to Charles and Ann Maria Fleetwood, both of whom were free African Americans. Educated as a child in the home of his father’s employer, sugar merchant John C. Brune, Fleetwood was an 1860 graduate of the Ashmun Institute (later Lincoln University) in Pennsylvania. Working for the Maryland Colonization Society, he traveled to Liberia and Sierra Leone in Africa and later published the Lyceum Observer, among the first African American newspapers in the border slave states. Part of the waves of African Americans who enlisted in the Union army after President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, Fleetwood enlisted in the 4th Regiment United States Colored Infantry in August 1863, quickly rising to the rank of sergeant major. At the Battle of Chaffin’s Farm (New Market Heights/Fort Harrison; sometimes recorded as Chapin’s Farm) near Richmond, Virginia, on September 29, 1864, his gallant performance earned him the Medal of Honor. Fleetwood’s citation notes that he “seized the colors, after two color bearers had been shot down, and bore them nobly through the fight.” Following his honorable discharge from the U.S. Army in 1866, Christian Fleetwood settled in Washington, D.C., where he was employed by the federal and district governments, and was active in musical organizations and as a battalion commander with the D.C. National Guard.

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Credit: Statewide