Joseph T. Wilson served with theduring the (1861–1865) and afterward as a writer, orator, and activist best known for The Black Phalanx; A History of the Negro Soldiers of the United States in the Wars of 1775–1812, 1861–’65 (1887). Born free in Norfolk, Wilson attended school in Massachusetts and worked as a whaler in the South Pacific and on a railroad crew in Chile before coming home to the United States in 1862 to enlist. He returned to Massachusetts after becoming sick, later fighting with the 54th Massachusetts at the Battle of Olustee, in Florida. A wound led to his discharge. After the war, Wilson settled in Norfolk, for black suffrage and full citizenship through his prodigious output of editorials, poems, speeches, and historical works. A stalwart and officeholder, he courted controversy in the 1880s by refusing to align with the reform-minded, biracial coalition in Virginia and choosing instead to support the “straight-out” Republicans. The Black Phalanx, meanwhile, was the most comprehensive study of African American military service of its era, commanding for Wilson widespread admiration and respect. He died in 1891 and is buried at Hampton National Cemetery.