The River Street Cemetery contains the graves of eight veterans of the Massachusetts 54th Regiment.
At the time of the Civil War there were 709 African Americans living in Vermont, and of them, 152 served in the Union Army. Those working as support staff could join any unit, but it was only a select few, all-black units in which African Americans could serve as soldiers. The Massachusetts 54th was among the first such units formed, and their success in battle paved the way for other such units.
African American recruits from towns such as Rutland, Woodstock, Bennington, Burlington, Hinesburgh and Castleton joined the 54th. George Hart, a freed Louisiana slave who was brought north by Vermont troops, was one such recruit. He settled in Woodstock after the war and is among those buried in the River Street Cemetery.
Men of Color, to Arms! by James FullerVermont African-American Heritage Trail