Albert Cheatham was born into slavery in 1844. He was born in either Tennessee or Alabama. He listed both states as his place of birth in military records. Sometime after the Civil War began he escaped and made his way to Union Troops who took him in as “contraband” and eventually came to Indiana. In Corydon he was taken in by the Porter family. During Morgan’s Raid he was taken captive by Confederate soldiers. Because he was an African-American they considered him as property. Albert later escaped and returned to Corydon. Eventually he made his way to Indianapolis. A man from Hendricks County named James Faught paid Albert to take his place in the army. During the war, people with enough money and a disinclination to serve in the military could hire another person to take their place as a substitute.
Albert was mustered into Company K of the 28th United States Colored Troops on August 25, 1864. He was 5' 5 ½” tall, 19 years old, and could not write his name. He went to Virginia with the 28th, but does not appear to have participated in any battles. Most of the time he was listed as “absent sick” because he suffered from chronic bronchitis. He was mustered out in August 1865 from a military hospital in Alexandria, Virginia.
There are no records of Albert again until 1880. At that point, census records say that he was living in Louisville, Kentucky. Between the end of the war and 1880, Albert had learned to read and write. He had married his wife Laura in 1879, and they had a son named Llewellyn. He worked in a lead and oil business. Albert and his family rented a home on 12th Street in Louisville. Albert lived there the rest of his life. Albert died in 1921 and was buried in Cave Hill National Cemetery. After his death, Laura applied to receive his Civil War pension. Albert’s name appears on the African-American Civil War Memorial in Washington, D.C.