From the Archives of the Diocese of Maryland.
Mary O. Klein, archivist
Trinity Church, Baltimore, Parish Register Records Civil War Era Burials of United States Colored Troops
Written in the pages of the Parish Register from Trinity church, Baltimore, are the names of 146 members of the United States Colored Troops whose funerals were conducted by Trinity’s rector, the Rev. George Armistead Leakin during the Civil War. In addition to serving as rector of Trinity Church, in 1862 Mr. Leakin was commissioned as a chaplain to the United States hospital at Patterson Park, a position he held until the end of the War. McKim’s Mansion Hospital, the convalescent portion of the surgical hospital, was also ministered to by Mr. Leakin, and it was from McKim’s that the funerals of these 146 Colored Troop soldiers were conducted. Careful in his record keeping, Mr. Leakin enumerated the date of the funeral, the name of the deceased, along with his company and regiment in which he served. The first entry in the long list reads, “On May 19, 1864, the funeral of Basil Sharp, Company B, 30th Regiment, U.S.C. Troops”. There was no indication where the burial took place, but the heading reads, “Funerals at McKim’s Mansion Hospital”. Were these soldiers buried in Patterson Park? As yet, no record of burials has been found. Because the Archives of the Diocese of Maryland exclusively holds the records of Trinity Church, the names of these soldiers should be of great interest to researchers into the history of the U.S. Colored Troops.
Mr. Leakin saw to the spiritual and human welfare needs of his soldiers, and in a letter dated December 1, 1862, he wrote to Bishop William Whittingham thanking him for the offer to send newspapers to the hospital, saying, “I received your kind note and will avail myself of the papers. Such illustrations are read with voracity, especially the pictorial kind are eagerly devoured.” He wrote three tracts especially for the soldiers, one called “The Flag of Truce” another called “There is a Letter for you” and the third entitled “Moral Remedies”, and the bishop funded the printing of 2,000 copies for distribution. Mr. Leakin celebrated Holy Communion at the hospital, and counseled soldiers who came to him “about their spiritual welfare”, as well as tending to the wounded, ill and dying. On December15, 1862, he wrote the bishop that, “The sad harvest of Fredericksburg will soon be gathered into this granary and I shall try to regather some portion at least into God’s Kingdom.”
George Armistead Leakin was born in Baltimore on December 16, 1818. His father, Sheppard Church Leakin, served as a captain during the War of 1812, and named his son after his friend and commandant of Fort McHenry, George Armistead. While serving as rector of Trinity Church from 1845-1888, Mr. Leakin was active in the Missionary Society of Baltimore and helped found, among other churches, “Trinity Chapel for Colored People” in 1853, later called St. Matthew’s Chapel. From 1853 onwards, Trinity Church was located at Broadway and Pratt Streets, and Mr. Leakin served there for forty-three years. Not one to ever slow down, after he left Trinity at the age of 70, Mr. Leakin became the chaplain to “Public Institutions and Seamen”, and chaplain at Bayview Asylum. When he died in 1912, at age 94, he was the oldest clergyman in the diocese.
Images of the Rev. George Armistead Leakin’s entries in Trinity, Baltimore’s Parish Registry
Click on a thumbnail below to see the full-size image.