Christian Fleetwood, soldier, choir master, clerk, and abolitionist, was born free in Baltimore, Maryland to Charles Fleetwood and Anna Marie Fleetwood on July 21, 1840. At an early age Christian Fleetwood showed signs of intelligence and quickly endeared himself to the wealthy sugar merchant John Brune who thought of Fleetwood as a son and provided him with an education.
Fleetwood continued his education with the Maryland Colonization Society which was attempting to found a colony for free blacks in Liberia. During his early life, Fleetwood was greatly involved in promoting the African colonization movement. At the age of 16, he took a trip to Liberia and Sierra Leone in order to experience African colonial life for himself. For years Fleetwood considered leaving the United States forever and permanently moving to Liberia but eventually decided against it believing he would make a bigger difference as an abolitionist in the United States.
After graduating from the all-black Ashum Institute in Oxford, Pennsylvania, Fleetwood returned to Baltimore, where he was one of the founding members of Maryland’s first black journal, the Lyceum Observer, a forum for the advancement of black rights. At this time he was also a regular contributor to several Episcopalian newspapers, most notably the Christian Recorder. Throughout his life, Christian Fleetwood was deeply involved in the Episcopalian church, serving as choir master to many individual churches. For years he thought of becoming a preacher but ultimately decided against it.
On August 11, 1863, Christian Fleetwood enlisted in the 4th Regiment United States Colored Infantry. Due to his education and organizational experience Fleetwood was given the rank of Sergeant upon enlisting and was promoted to Sergeant Major after eight days.
Most of Fleetwood’s military career was largely uneventful. His regiment rarely saw combat. He was present at several unsuccessful sieges of Richmond. During the first two sieges the Union Army had been repelled while Fleetwood’s