By the end of the war, more than 186,000 black soldiers had joined the Union Army. - 93,000 from the Confederate states. - 40,000 from the border slave states. - 53,000 from the free states.
Congressional Medals of Honor Twenty-four black soldiers were awarded the meritorious Congressional Medals of Honor. http://www.wikinfo.org/wikephp?title=Medal of Honor The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration in the United States.
Casualties 38,000 Black soldiers died during the Civil War Conflict (30,000 of infection and disease.) http://www.tsgraves.com/images/bugler_taps.jpg http://www.flickr.com/photos/beachbumgreetings/498517609/
White Sentiment When the war began, most white northerners were not interested in fighting to free slaves or in giving rights to black people. For this reason, the government turned away African American volunteers who rushed to enlist after Ft. Sumter. http://www.flickr.com/photos/doory/47550929/
A Federal law dating from 1792 barred Negroes from bearing arms for the U.S. Army (although they had served in the American Revolution and in the War of 1812.) http://www.artisansofthevalley.com/af/af_nedhectoryimage.jpg
In Boston, disappointed would-be volunteers met and passed a resolution requesting that the Government modify its laws to permit their enlistment, but Lincoln upheld the laws barring blacks from the army, proving to northern whites that their race privilege would not be threatened. http://www.patriotprintshoppe.com/16Lincoln61PhotoByChristopherS.German.jpg
African Americans had been working aboard naval vessels for years. Black sailors were therefore accepted into the U.S. Navy from the beginning of the war. http://www.cnn.com/US/9609/09/civil.war.parade/sailors.lrg.jpg http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0875802869/ref=nosim/azrahistoricalre Approximately 19,000 African Americans served in the U.S. Navy during the Civil War.
Still, many African Americans wanted to join the fighting and continued to put pressure on federal authorities. Even if Lincoln was not ready to admit it, blacks knew that this was a war against slavery. http://www.mrlincolnandfreedom.org/upload/recruitsFLINp109_med.jpg
Frederick Douglass Critical of Lincoln in his speeches. “the mission of the war was the liberation of the slaves as well as the salvation of the Union. I reproached the North that they fought with one hand, while they might fight more effectively with two; that they fought with the soft white hand, while they kept the black iron hand chained and helpless behind them” – Frederick Douglass http://www.valdosta.edu/~krwhite/Fist.bmp
“Once let the black man get upon his person the brass letters, U.S., let him get an eagle on his button, and a musket on his shoulder and bullets in his pocket, there is no power on Earth that can deny that he has earned the right to citizenship.” – Frederick Douglas http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/images/4fred16b.jpg http://www.31centuries.com/worldmilitaria/unitedstates/civilwarbutton1a.jpg
State Militia The need for able-bodied fighting men soon led individual states to swear into the state militia - separate Regiments of all Black Troops (guarding and policing the home front.) Other Blacks found acceptance as volunteers in semi-military or military support positions.
Contrabands By mid-1862, the escalating number of former slaves (contrabands), the declining number of white volunteers, and the increasingly pressing personnel needs of the Union Army pushed the Government into reconsidering the ban. http://pre1900prints.com/BlackAmericana/ContrabandsFtMonroeHHRs.jpg
Congress overturns ban Not until August of 1862 did Blacks receive the endorsement of Congress to serve in the Civil War. Congress revoked the militia laws banning Blacks from serving in the Union Army. http://www.mrlincolnswhitehouse.org/upload/capitol7d.jpg
Emancipation Proclamation A few individual commanders in the field had taken steps to recruit southern African Americans into their forces. But it was only after Lincoln issued the final Emancipation Proclamation that the federal army would officially accept black soldiers into its ranks. http://education.harpweek.com/CivilWarIllustrations/Part1Illus/EscapedSlave00428Bw250.jpg
1 st Regiments formed After the Emancipation Proclamation was announced, black recruitment was pursued in earnest. Volunteers from South Carolina, Tennessee, and Massachusetts filled the first authorized black regiments. Recruitment was slow until black leaders such as Frederick Douglass encouraged black men to become soldiers to ensure eventual – full citizenship. Two of Douglass’s own sons, Charles and Lewis, became among the first recruits.
Recruiting Poster “Men of Color, To Arms!” “Let the slaves and free colored people be called into service, and formed into a liberating army, to march into the South and raise the banner of emancipation among the slaves……” http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/blacks-civil-war/images/recruitment-broadside.gif Recruitment Poster For Black Soldiers.
Newspaper Editorials “This is our golden opportunity. Let us accept it, and forever wipe out the dark reproaches unsparingly hurled against us by our enemies. Let us win for ourselves the gratitude of our country, and the best blessings of our posterity through all time.” – Frederick Douglass http://www.printsoldandrare.com/blackhistory/218bh.jpg
Bureau of Colored Troops On May 1, 1863, the War Department created the Bureau of Colored Troops in order to handle the recruitment and organization of all black regiments. These units were know as the United States Colored Troops. All units were commanded by white officers. http://www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/icws/images/colored.jpg
54 th Massachusetts African American men rushed to enlist. This time they were accepted into all-black units. The first of these was the 54 th Massachusetts Colored Regiment, led by Colonel Robert Gould Shaw. http://graphics.boston.com/bonzai-fba/Globe_Photo/2005/11/12/1131802260_5982.jpg http://www.nga.gov/feature/shaw/img-n/s110n.jpg Colonel Shaw
The Fighting 54 th Their heroism in combat put to rest worries over the willingness of black soldiers to fight. Soon other regiments were being formed. http://blogstill.no.sapo.pt/glory08.jpg http://www.yale.edu/glc/tangledroots/54th.jpg
Battle of Fort Wagner & the 54 th Massachusetts The propaganda from the Battle of Fort Wagner was enormous. The New York Tribune reported that the battle would be to Black Americans what Bunker Hill was to white Americans. http://imagesource.allposters.com/images/HAD/4051.jpg http://www.allenscreations.com/images/kr54miafw.jpg
Wagner Press Quotes “Through the common smoke of that dark night the manhood of the colored race shines before many eyes that would not see.” – Atlantic Monthly “Through the common smoke of that dark night the manhood of the colored race shines before many eyes that would not see.” – Atlantic Monthly The Boston Commonwealth….quoted a white soldier at Wagner as saying, “we don’t know any black men here, they’re all soldiers.” The Boston Commonwealth….quoted a white soldier at Wagner as saying, “we don’t know any black men here, they’re all soldiers.”
The Northern population that accepted putting blacks into uniforms as a test, now acknowledged that black men could fight and kill like white men. http://www.gallerychuma.com/images/j54thmass.jpg
DuBois on Irony In 1935, historian W.E.B DuBois wrote about the change that black soldiers wrought on white minds: “How extraordinary…in the minds of most people…only murder makes men. The slave pleaded; he was humble; he protected the women of the South, and the world ignored him. The slave killed white men; and behold, he was a man.” “How extraordinary…in the minds of most people…only murder makes men. The slave pleaded; he was humble; he protected the women of the South, and the world ignored him. The slave killed white men; and behold, he was a man.”
Confederate Congress Black troops faced greater peril than white troops when captured by the Confederate Army. In 1863, the Confederate Congress threatened to punish severely officers of black troops and to enslave black soldiers. http://www.rebelclub.org.uk/images/Confederate%20Flag%20Normal%20jpeg.jpg
Fort Pillow Massacre Black captives were typically treated more harshly than white captives. In perhaps the most heinous known example of abuse, Confederate soldiers shot to death black Union soldiers captured at Fort Pillow, Tennessee. http://www.assumption.edu/users/mcclymer/His130/P-H/Pillow/pillow.jpg
Fort Pillow In April 1864, General Nathan Forrest and his men captured Fort Pillow in Jackson, Tennessee. The fort contained 262 African American and 295 white soldiers. It was claimed later, that most of these soldiers were killed after they surrendered. General Nathan Forrest http://www.sonofthesouth.net/leefoundation/Jefferson_Davis/Nathan_Bedford_Forrest_small.jpg
Ft. Pillow Investigation After the war, an official investigation discovered evidence that “the Confederates were guilty of atrocities which included murdering most the garrison after it surrendered, burying Negro soldiers alive, and setting fire to tents containing Federal wounded.” A congressional committee verified that more than 300 blacks, including women and children, had been slain after the fort surrendered.
Condemnation over Ft. Pillow Abraham Lincoln condemned the atrocity but refused to agree to the demands of William Seward (Secretary of War), that an equal number of Confederate prisoners be executed in an act of revenge. http://www.sonofthesouth.net/leefoundation/Antietam/abraham-lincoln-antietam_small1.jpg
Discrimination Black soldiers faced discrimination as well as segregation. The army was extremely reluctant to commission black officers – only one hundred gained commissions during the war. African Americans soldiers were also given substandard supplies and rations. Probably the worst form of discrimination was the pay differential. At the beginning of black enlistment, it was assumed that blacks would be kept out of direct combat, and the men were paid as laborers rather than as soldiers.
Pay Discrimination Black soldiers received $7 per month, plus a $3 clothing allowance, while white soldiers received $13 per month, plus $3.50 for clothes. Black troops strongly resisted this treatment. The 54 th Massachusetts Regiment served a year without pay rather than accept the unfair wages. Many blacks refused to enlist because of the discriminatory pay. http://www.negroartist.com/CIVIL%20WAR%20ERA%20AND%20POST%20ERA%20LEGENDS/pages/US%20PAYMASTER%20PAYING%20OFF%20PHALANX%20SOLDIERS_jpg.htm
Douglass meets with Lincoln July 1863, Douglass shares 3 complaints with President Lincoln. 1. Colored troops to be paid the same as white troops. 2. Colored troops be fairly treated, especially when captured by the Confederates (some colored troops had been summarily executed or sent into slavery.) 3. Colored troops should receive the same promotions as whites, when their valor in battle demanded it. http://www.flickr.com/photos/bootbearwdc/104133078/
General Order 233 A few days later, President Lincoln issued General Order 233, threatening reprisal on Confederate prisoners of war for any mistreatment of black troops. This order stated: “ that for every soldier of the United States killed in violation of the laws of war, a rebel soldier shall be executed; and for everyone enslaved by the enemy or sold into slavery, a rebel soldier shall be placed at hard labor on the public works.” http://lonnpressnall.com/sitepictures/lincoln%20018.jpg
“ In his company I was never in any way reminded of my humble origin [former slave], or of my unpopular colour.” – Frederick Douglass on his meeting with President Abraham Lincoln. http://www.mmscrusaders.com/zcivil/ashamb/images/douglass1.jpg
Your consent to our cookies if you continue to use this website.