Only July 18, 1863, Sergeant Peter Vogelsang was shot through the lungs during the assault on Fort Wagner. A member of New York’s African-American elite, he had enlisted in the Union Army at the ripe age of forty-six. He survived, was promoted to lieutenant, and later became one of the few black men working in the New York Customhouse.
He was related to the DeGrasses, Fortens, and Downings, three of the nation’s wealthiest African-American families, and he was well-known in abolitionist and free-black circles. But because options were so limited, even for a man of his credentials, he worked as a porter and messenger.