Documenting the American South

Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina
Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina
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  • Monument Name

    “Boundless,” U.S. Colored Troops Memorial, Wilmington

  • Type



  • Subjects

    African American Monuments

    Civil War, 1861-1865

  • Creator

    Carolina Bronze Sculpture, Seagrove, NC, casting, Builder

    Stephen Hayes, Durham, North Carolina, Sculptor

  • City


  • County

    New Hanover

  • Description

    The memorial “Boundless” (Collection of Cameron Art Museum) is a series of 11 life-size bronze statues depicting the three ranks of United States Colored Troops (USCT) soldiers marching toward the Confederate fortifications. They carry backpacks, bedrolls and other equipment. Their weapons rest against their left shoulders. The troops are led by a flag bearer who carries the USCT 5th regimental flag and drummer. Casts to create the faces were made of 11 African American men connected to the history of the area. The men chosen were USCT descendants, re-enactors, veterans and Wilmington area community leaders. The sculpture weighs approximately 2,500 pounds and stands 16-by-7.5-by-3. Interpretive signs explain the role of colored troops engaged in the fighting around Wilmington and the sound of soldiers singing and marching can be heard via a QR code. A white banner on the right of the complex was installed for the unveiling. It carries 1,820 names of of United States Colored Troops who fought at the Battle of Forks Road. The museum plans to have the names on their site in a near future.

    Images: Reenactor with a statue | Close-up view of the statues | Close-up view of a soldier | Flag bearer | Side view of the memorial complex | Back view of the memorial complex | Sculptor Stephen Hayes during the installation | Re-enactors at the dedication ceremony | Marching through the woods | Sculptor Stephen Hayes at the opening | Far-off view of the memorial complex | Installation process

  • Inscription

    Banner: Revealed for the first time in history, the names of 1,820 United States Colored Troops who fought at the Battle of Forks Road will be permanently inscribed on the Boundless sculpture, December 2021.
    [1,820 names]

  • Custodian

    Cameron Art Museum

  • Dedication Date

    November 21, 2021

  • Decade


  • Geographic Coordinates

    34.184900 , -77.915500 View in Geobrowsemap pin

  • Supporting Sources

      Carver, Shea. “US Colored Troops Honored in 'Boundless,' Bronze Sculpture to Be Unveiled on CAM’s Historic Grounds,” Port City Daily (Wilmington, NC), November 12, 202, (accessed January 24, 2022) Link

      Hanc, John. “Where Civil War Soldiers Will March Again,” The New York Times (New York, NY), March 9, 2020, (accessed December 28, 2021) Link

      Ingram, Hunter. "Wilmington’s U.S. Colored Troops Sculpture Modeled from Civil War Soldier Unveiled Soon,” Wilmington Star-News (Wilmington, NC), February 15, 2021, (accessed December 28, 2021) Link

      Maurer, Kevin. “In North Carolina, a New Civil War Memorial Honors Black Union Soldiers,” The Washington Post (Washington, DC), November 1, 2021, (accessed December 28, 2021) Link

      Young, Patrick. “Wilmington, North Carolina Unveils New USCT Sculpture,” The Reconstruction Era (blog),, November 14, 2021, (accessed December 28, 2021) Link

      “Bio – Stephen L. Hayes,” Stephen Hayes Creations,, (accessed December 28, 2021) Link

      “Boundless. A Public Sculpture Honoring the United States Colored Troops. By NC Artist Stephen Hayes,” Cameron Art Museum,, (accessed December 28, 2021) Link

      “US Colored Troops and the Battle of Forks Road,” Cape Fear Unearthed, (podcast), February 18, 2021, (accessed December 28, 2021) Link

  • Public Site


  • Materials & Techniques


  • Sponsors

    Cameron Art Museum. Private foundations, local government, civic organizations, the business community and individuals funded the sculpture. The headline sponsor was Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation that also sponsored the unveiling ceremony.

  • Monument Cost


  • Monument Dedication and Unveiling

    The dedication featured living history demonstrations and Civil War re-enactors. Also participating were musician and historian Mary D. Williams, North Carolina storyteller Carolyn Evans, spoken word poet Johnny Lee Chapman III and the sculptor Stephen Hayes.

  • Subject Notes

    U.S. Colored Troops, mostly formerly enslaved men from the South, accounted for more than half of the 2,000 Union casualties in a series of battles for control of Wilmington late in the Civil War. One of the clashes, the battle of Forks Road, took place on the grounds now occupied by the Cameron Art Museum. The USCT role in this action was a leading factor behind creation of the sculpture that recognizes the sacrifices of Black soldiers in the Union Army, specifically the Fifth Regiment of the USCT that acted as the vanguard. Stephen Hayes (b. 1983), creator of the new memorial, hopes that his work brings "a sense of pride, a sense of honor, just an understanding of their history [...] Bring these histories forward so they can talk about it, because there’s a certain type of healing that needs to be done for everything that has happened throughout Wilmington.”

    A seamstress used the uniform from a Civil War re-enactor to accurately recreate 11 uniforms and hats for Stephen Hayes to cast. “Once we got the suits and stuff together, I built a mannequin to create movement,” Hayes explained. “It was the hardest part: trying to make everybody look like they’re marching.” The sculptor glued together folds and creases in the uniforms to signify motion, then covered them in plaster to dry. He utilized plaster, fabric and wood for the initial sculpture and cast belts, backpacks, flasks, sleeping bags, guns, and other items the troops would have carried. The work then went into a wax mold before being cast in bronze.

  • Location

    The sculpture is located ca. 250 feet from the entrance to the Cameron Art Museum in Wilmington, NC. It faces the remains of Confederate earthworks including the trenches at the site of the 1865 Battle of Forks Road, still visible on the museum grounds. The museum address is 3201 S. 17th St., Wilmington, NC 28412.

  • Landscape

    The bronze sculpture stands in the wooded area beside the Cameron art Museum building.

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