John Van Surley DeGrasse seated

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Photograph 36.7
The Massachusetts Historical Society


circa 1864


The Museum of African American History, Boston
John DeGrasse was the younger son of George and Maria DeGrasse. Theodocia Degrasse was his sister and Peter Vogelsang his brother-in-law. After receiving his medical degree from Bowdoin College, John moved to Boston in the early 1850s. In 1863 he volunteered as assistant surgeon with the First North Carolina Volunteers (later the 35th regiment of the USCT). Unlike Peter Vogelsang, he found himself the target of virulent racism from some of the white officers and surgeons. Accused of drunkenness and dereliction of duty in 1864, he was court-martialed and dishonorably discharged from the army. He died soon thereafter in 1868.


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“John Van Surley DeGrasse seated,” Black Gotham Archive, accessed July 10, 2018,