African Americans in the Civil War

A photograph of the 29th Regiment, Connecticut Volunteers, U.S. Colored Troops, in formation near Beaufort, S.C.

Civil 29th Regiment, Connecticut Volunteers, U.S. Colored Troops, in formation near Beaufort, S.C., where Cooley lived and worked. It was Connecticut’s first African American regiment.

African Americans were freemen, freedmen, slaves, soldiers, sailors,  laborers, and slaveowners during the Civil War.  As a historian, I must be objective and discuss the facts based on my research.  Some of our history may be different from how it has been previously taught and some of it is not very pretty.

black soldiers in the civil war essay

In 1860, both the North and the South believed in slavery and white supremacy.  Although many northerners talked about keeping the federal territories free land, they wanted those territories free for white men to work and not compete against slavery.  The two parts of the country had two very different labor systems and slavery was the economic system of the South.  Its four million slaves were valued between three and four billion dollars, in 1860.       

The South seceded from the United States because they felt that their slave property was going to be taken away.  When reading the secession documents , the primary reason for secession was to protect their slave property and expand slavery. 

There were two broad categories of enslaved people at that time, agricultural slaves, and urban slaves.  Most of us are familiar with agricultural slavery, the system of slavery on the farms and plantations.  On the plantations, there were house servants and field hands, the house servants were usually better cared for, while field hands suffered more cruelty.  Some slaveowners treated their slaves very well, some treated their slaves very cruelly and some were in between the extremes. Black slaveowners generally owned their own family members in order to keep their families together.

Field hands generally worked in the fields from sunrise to sunset and were generally watched by their slaveowners and or overseers.  House servants were much closer to the families who owned them and in many cases were very loyal to their masters’ families.  In some cases, the house servants were related to these families. 

Slaves and free Blacks were often classified by their percentage of white blood.  For example, mulattos are half-white, quadroons are one-fourth Black, and octoroons are one-eighth Black.  The enslaved people in these categories were more valuable than those of pure African descent.

Urban slaves had much more freedom, as they lived and worked in the cities and towns.  Although some plantation slaves had become craftsmen, most of the urban slaves were craftsmen and tradesmen.  These slaves were rented by their slaveholders to others, usually for a year at a time.  They worked in factories, stores, hotels, warehouses, in houses and for tradesmen.  In some cases, these enslaved people would earn money for themselves, if they worked more hours or were more productive than their rental contract requirements.  They were able to work with free Blacks and were able to learn the customs of white Americans.

There was a coalition of people, Black and white, Northerners and Southerners that formed a society to colonize free Blacks in Africa.  The American Colonization Society (ACS) was able to keep this mixture of people together because the various factions had different reasons for wanting to achieve the goals of this society.  They founded Liberia and by 1867, they had assisted approximately 13,000 Blacks to move to Liberia.  Some of the ACS really wanted to help Blacks and thought that they would fare better in Africa than America, but the slaveholders thought free Blacks were a detriment to slavery and wanted them removed from this country.  The ACS survived from 1816 until it formally dissolved in 1964.  In fact, even President Abraham Lincoln believed that this would be a solution to the problem of Blacks being freed during the Civil War.  He found out that this was not the solution to the problem after a failed colonization attempt in the Caribbean in 1864.   

Abolitionists, a very vocal minority of the North, who were anti-slavery activists, pushed for the United States to end slavery.  After the John Brown Harper’s Ferry raid of 1859 , Southerners thought that the majority of Northerners were abolitionists, so when moderate Republican Abraham Lincoln was elected President in 1860, they felt that their slave property would be taken away. 

black soldiers in the civil war essay

In the pre-1800 North, free Blacks had nominal rights of citizenship; in some places, they could vote, serve on juries and work in skilled trades.  As the need to justify slavery grew stronger and racism started to solidify, most of the northern states took away some of those rights.  When the northwestern states came into being, Blacks suffered more severe treatment. In Ohio, Blacks could not live there without a certificate proving their free status.  Illinois had harsh restrictions on Blacks entering the state and Indiana tried barring them altogether.  There was mob violence against Blacks from the 1820s up to 1850, especially in Philadelphia where the worst and most frequent mob violence occurred.  City officials refused to protect Blacks and blamed African Americans for their “uppity” behavior. 

Free African Americans in the North and the South faced racism. White people, no matter how poor, knew that there were classes of people under them – namely Blacks and Native Americans.  Most white Americans defended slavery as the natural condition of Blacks in this country.  Most immigrants in the North did not want to compete with African Americans for jobs because their wages would be lowered.  This created animosity between Blacks and immigrants, especially the Irish – who killed many Blacks in the draft riots in New York City in 1863.

African Americans and their white allies in the North, created Black schools, churches, and orphanages.  They also created mutual aid societies to provide financial assistance to Blacks.  The Underground Railroad aided many escaped enslaved people from the South to the North, who were able to get support from the abolitionists.

In the North, most white people thought about Blacks in the same way as people of the South.  The many immigrants that entered the country for a better life, considered Blacks as their rivals for low paying jobs.  Many of the northwestern states and the free territories did not want slavery in their areas. Not because they wanted freedom for Blacks, but they wanted to have free areas for white men, and exclude Blacks in those states and territories, altogether.  Blacks would drive down the wages for free white men.  Illinois and Kansas represent two such states. 

However, Blacks still wanted to fight for the Union army in the Civil War!  Many wanted to prove their manhood, some wanted to prove their equality to white men, and many wanted to fight for the freedom of their people. 

The North began to change its mind about Black soldiers in 1862, when in July Congress passed the Second Confiscation and Militia Acts, allowing the army to use Blacks to serve with the army in any duties required.  Some generals used this act to form the first Black regiments.  President Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation in September 1862 to take effect on January 1, 1863. The Emancipation allowed Blacks to serve in the army of the United States as soldiers. In May 1863, the Bureau of Colored Troops was formed, and all of the Black regiments were called United States Colored Troops . 

A United States Colored Troops recruiting poster.

More than 200,000 Black men serve in the United States Army and Navy.  The USCT fought in 450 battle engagements and suffered more than 38,000 deaths.  Significant battles were Nashville, Fort Fisher, Wilmington, Wilson’s Wharf, New Market Heights (Chaffin’s Farm), Fort Wagner, Battle of the Crater, and Appomattox.

I want to make a special point here, the Emancipation Proclamation did not free all of the slaves in the country, although many people even today believe that it did.  It only freed slaves in the Southern states still in rebellion against the United States.  So, the Border States and territory already captured by the Union army still had slavery. The 13 th Amendment freed all the slaves in the country in 1865. 

Some important African American people during the Civil War era were:

  • Frederick Douglass was the son of a slave and a white man; since his mother was a slave – he was a slave.  He became the most important African American of the Civil War era.  He was both an urban and agricultural slave, who was treated fairly well in the city but cruelly on the plantation. Douglass learned to read and write, he learned a trade and escaped to freedom.  He became an abolitionist lecturer, an author, a publisher, a recruiter for the United States Colored Troops, a marshal for the District of Columbia, and an ambassador to both Haiti and the Dominican Republic. He criticized President Lincoln and then became a friend of the President.
  • Harriet Tubman , at 13 years old was struck in the head by an overseer; she had seizures or sleeping spells for the rest of her life. She is called “Moses,” and led many fellow slaves to freedom (100-300).  During the Civil War, she served with the Union army as a scout, spy, nurse, cook, and laundress.  She led Union raids in South Carolina, freeing slaves in those areas while assisting the USCT infantry.
  • William Wells Brown was born into slavery on November 6, 1814, to a slave named Elizabeth and a white planter, George W. Higgins.  He escaped in Ohio and added the adopted name of Wells Brown - the name of a Quaker friend who helped him.  He became a conductor for the Underground Railroad, lecturer on the antislavery circuit in the United States and Europe, and a historian.  He wrote his autobiography, which was a bestseller second only to Frederick Douglass’ autobiography.  He also wrote The Negro in the American Rebellion (1867) which is recognized as the first book about Black soldiers in the Civil War.
  • Elizabeth Keckley was the daughter of a slave and her white owner, she was considered a “privileged slave,” learning to read and write despite the fact that it was illegal for slaves to do so.  She became a dressmaker, bought her freedom, and moved to Washington, D. C.  In Washington, she made a dress for Mrs. Robert E. Lee; this sparked a rapid growth for her business.  She made dresses for Mrs. Jefferson Davis and Mrs. Abraham Lincoln, becoming a loyal friend to Mary Todd Lincoln.  Keckley also founded the Contraband Relief Association, an association that helped slaves freed during the Civil War.
  • Charlotte Forten Grimke was born into a wealthy Black abolitionist family in Philadelphia, PA,.  She was a well-educated writer and poet, who went to Sea Island South Carolina to teach the liberated slaves to read and write.  She later married the mulatto half-brother of the famous abolitionists Grimke sisters.
  • Sgt. Christian Fleetwood served in the 4 th USCT. On September 29 th during the Battle of Chaffin’s Farm, he caught the American flag before it hit the ground, after the color bearer was shot down.  He continued to carry the flag and rallied his men. His bravery earned him the Medal of Honor.
  • Sgt. William Carney served in the 54 th Massachusetts Infantry . On July 18, 1863, at the Battle of Fort Wagner, he earned the Medal of Honor for saving the American flag, despite being severely wounded. He carried the flag all the way to the entrance of the fort before he retreated.
  • Sergeant Nimrod Burke of the 23 rd USCT, started the war as a civilian teamster and scout for the 36 th Ohio Volunteer Infantry in April 1861.  In 1864, he enlisted in the 23 rd United States Colored Troops. He was one of many Black men who served with the Union army in another capacity, then served with the United States Colored Troops. 

African Americans were more than enslaved people during the Civil War. Many became productive citizens, including Congressmen, a senator, a governor, business owners, tradesmen and tradeswomen, soldiers, sailors, reporters, and historians.  Research African American history in libraries and museums, to find out the contributions made during and after the Civil War.

Further Reading

  • A Slave No More: Two Men Who Escaped to Freedom, Including Their Own Narratives of Emancipation   By:   David W. Blight
  • A Brave Black Regiment: The History of the Fifty-Fourth Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry 1863-1865 By: Capt. Luis F. Emilio
  • Slavery and the Making of America By: James Oliver Horton and Lois E. Horton
  • Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era By: James M. McPherson 
  • The Negro's Civil War: How American Blacks Felt and Acted During the War for the Union By: James M. McPherson

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black soldiers in the civil war essay


black soldiers in the civil war essay

Black Soldiers In The Civil War Essay

Emancipation proclamation.

The period before the outbreak of the Civil War was one of the most tense in American history. As the Civil War began, African Americans in the North were largely excluded from the military. Only a few black regiments took shape in the some of the Union-occupied areas of the Confederacy. When Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation black enlistment increased rapidly and the Union military began to recruit Buffalo Soldiers (African Americans) soldiers and sailors. After 1863 the Buffalo soldier would play a crucial role in the Union’s victory over the Confederacy.

How Did African Americans Respond To The Emancipation Dbq

During the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation was issued by Abraham Lincoln; it declared that “All person’s held as slaves within the rebellious states henceforward shall be free”, but blacks still felt that they were being treated unfairly. Slaves responded to the Emancipation Proclamation by leaving their overseers and dividing the land and implements among themselves. When opportunity came, two-hundred thousand blacks joined the Union army, Historian James McPheron says: “Without their help, the North could not have won the war as soon as it did, and perhaps it could not have won at all” (194), but when blacks were in the Union army and the northern cities during the war, it gave hints of how limited the emancipation would be. Black

Emancipation Proclamation Dbq Essay

For years slavery was an issue but when the Emancipation Proclamation was issued some issues “resolved.” When this freedom statement was being issued to the Union and the Confederacy many slaves gained freedom and were allowed to fight. The Emancipation Proclamation impacted the war greatly due to the freeing of many slaves.

How Did Frederick Douglass Impact On American Society

Douglass was born into slavery in Maryland as Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey. His mother was a slave and his father was most likely his white owner. He escaped slavery when he was 20 years old and chanced his name to Douglass. He learned the alphabet from his owner's wife Sofia, however her husband, his owner, told her not to teach slaves how to read and write. Douglass continued to learn to read and write from children and his neighbors, he later taught slaves how to read and write. Education is very important, many black were not allowed to learn to read and write since they could figure out a way to outsmart their owners. Education was a powerful tool, and Frederick Douglass owned it.

Glory Film Analysis

In the film Glory directed by Edward Zwick, the Civil War is portrayed through the eyes of the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts regiment, which was composed of African American men fighting against the Confederates for freedom. The commander of this regiment, Robert Shaw, was born into an abolitionist family and accepted the role of the first all-black regiment in the Northeast, despite the potential threats of the South. The movie focuses on four black soldiers and their experiences during the war as well as their relationships with their fellow soldiers and commanders, including Shaw. Throughout the movie, Shaw’s perspective is also seen and the conflicting emotions he felt are demonstrated by the choices he is forced to make. While some may argue

Civil War Dbq African Americans

African Americans had an extremely pivotal role in the outcome and consequences of the Civil War. This group of people were enslaved, and forced to work in horrible conditions, for the whole day, without pay. Slaves were one of the main causes of the Civil War. The issue of Slavery, which resulted in the eventual economic and social division between the North and South, caused the creation of the Confederate States. African Americans did not only unintentionally cause the war, but they also effected the outcome of the war, and the eventual consequences the nation would face after the war. During the war, blacks were used as motivation to fight, they were willing to help fight, and they even worked their way into the politics of the post war

Brief Summary Of The Movie Glory

The movie “Glory” tells the story of the transformation of an oppressed people to proud people. The movie glory tells the history of the 54th Massachusetts infantry. It became the first black regiment to fight in the north in the civil war. Black soldiers, northern freeman, and some escaped slaves made up the Regiment. The leader was General Robert Gould Shaw, the son of Boston abolitionists. The men of the 54th regiment proved themselves worthy of the freedom for which they were fighting, and the respect of their fellow white soldiers. Through the eyes of Shaw the movie glory is told . At the beginning of the movie, Shaw is fighting in a battle and manages to survive despite heavy union losses. Horrified by the violence of the war

Fort Pillow Thesis

The black soldiers belonged to the 6th U.S. Regiment Colored Heavy Artillery and a section of the 2nd Colored Light Artillery, under the overall command of Major Lionel F. Booth, who had been in the fort for only two weeks. Booth had been ordered to move his regiment from Memphis to Fort Pillow on March 28 to augment the cavalry, who had occupied the fort several weeks earlier. Many of the regiment were former slaves who understood the personal cost of a loss to the Confederates, at best an immediate return to slavery rather than being treated as a prisoner of

African Americans During The Civil War Dbq Analysis

All their actions helped us win the war. Slaves would escape their plantations under the cover of darkness to travel north. A large portion that wanted to help, by that they would give information to the Union generals on what the Confederates were planning to do (Doc. 1). During battles, slaves would run back and forth on the battlefield, dodging bullets, to get their message across. It was very dangerous and were risking their lives for what they believed in. Not even on the battlefield many wished to join the Union. All of them knew once they crossed Union lines they could be free. Their thirst for freedom was great (Doc. 2). However they were not always treated equal. What was difficult about going north? The journeys up to the north were horrendous. The routes held many challenges. Common challenges were weather, pro slavery white people, they risked getting shot, and worst they could be captured(Doc. 2). Lots of antislavery leaders, like Frederick Douglass, wrote editorials on the subject and held peaceful protests against it. Frederick Douglass was an African American man who was against slavery from the start. He escaped on a train and was free in the north (OI). He wrote an abolition newspaper called the North Star that helped raise awareness on how terrible this was (Doc. 3). Douglass stated in an article saying that slaves “would never be done away with” (Doc. 3). Frederick hinted at African American philosophers and statesmen to come up with a plan (Doc. 3). Union armies needed more people; the escaped slaves were happy to help, joining the Union’s side. (Doc. 4). Unfortunately, they were not allowed to fight as equals to the white soldiers. Their pay was less, their weapons inferior. One example of an African American soldier in the Union army was a letter from Samuel Cabble. In his letter he writes to his family that the army has accepted him and

First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment Essay

From St. Paul.. First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment was one of first units to start after Lincoln called for 75,000 troops in April, 1861. It was the first regiment from Minnesota. It formed after the governor of Minnesota, Alexander Ramsey, offered 1,000 troops for national service on April 14, 1861. We first gathered at Fort Snelling on April 29. Colonel Willis A. Gorman is our commander. Alexandria, Virginia is where we are currently stationed. We are part of the Army of the Potomac.

Francis Marion: Father Of The American Revolution

Revolutionary officer, Francis Marion was a commissioned officer in the South Carolina Second Regiment. Earning his nickname, “The Swamp Fox,” the general hid in the swamps to surprise attack the British troops. This is known as Guerilla Warfare, where he is credited as the Father of this tactic. General Marion lead the Patriots to victory in the American Revolution because of all his military tactics. He is a Revolutionary legend and credited for many victories as a military general in command.

Robert Smalls: An African American Hero

Soon to be joined by four other states. Southerners felt as the government was getting to strong, they felt as if no one would tell them how to live. South Carolina being the first state to leave the union. The Confederates demanded the Union to leave Fort Sumter after many failed negotiations and demands the confederates opened fire for 34 straight hours. This would be the start of the first Civil War battle. Many politicians felt this was a white man’s war and slaves had no right to fight this war. Slaves were not allowed to fight, all this changed when Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, it declared “ That all person held as slaves within the Confederate states should be free. Although it did not end slavery in the nation it gave people hope and uplifted the moral of blacks. Fredrick Douglas convinced Abraham Lincoln that African Americans were ready to fight and serve the Union. Robert Smalls was one of the first recruits to recruit colored troops. Black slaves volunteered by the thousands. They had suffered to long and been suppressed for many this was their way “ getting back at the white man” Yet many slaves saw this as a fight for their freedom and the freedom of their children, so that one day they would live

Civil War DBQ Essay

The Proclamation allowed the recruitment of freed slaves and freed African Americans as soldiers to strengthen the Union’s manpower militarily and politically to preserve it. Over the next couple of years, approximately 175,000 African American men fought in the Union army (Roark, 403). It opened the doorway into weakening the Southern planter aristocracy while

Frederick Douglass Dbq

Slaves rose up against their masters. Frederick Douglass wrote about the beginning of the end for his time in slavery, “I seized Covey hard by the throat; and as I did so, I rose… My long-crushed spirit rose, cowardice departed, bold defiance took its place (Document G). Douglass was a slave who fought with ferocity, both with his words and with his hands. He wasn’t the only one fighting. During the Civil War, many former slaves fought for the Union, proving themselves in battle. They faced inferior pay, inferior promotions, and the possibility of being massacred after a surrender, an event that happened at Fort Pillow. Black soldiers in the Union army faced racism and horrible circumstances, but they bravely fought – and won – battles. Seeing the amount that African-Americans fought for their freedom is astounding. To claim otherwise would be an egregious

Washington In The Civil War Analysis

Washington in the Civil War was not Washington at the time- It should be noted that she was only the Washington Territory. Regardless of the title, the Washington Territory was the farthest place one could be away from the war itself. In the time when it first started, Washington and her citizens were only just recovering from a number of conflicts- The Pig War being one of them- such as the only recently made peace with the Native Americans (Native Washingtonians?), and she and her people were kind of stressed out at the time the Civil War started. The U.S. Military had been called from Oregon, but Washington didn’t want to go. On May 10, 1861, Henry McGill, Washington’s governor, replied to President Lincoln’s initial request for soldiers,

More about Black Soldiers In The Civil War Essay

African-Americans in the Civil War

Introduction, black soldiers in the civil war, roles of the african-american soldiers, slavery and the fight for freedom.

The Civil War marked the beginning of the African-Americans serving in the army. The Union side of the war was open to free black volunteers in the war, but the Confederate States treated the blacks as slaves. The irony of the war is that, while the African-Americans from both sides of the war were looking to attain freedom, segregation was the highlight of the war. The Civil War marked the onset of some fundamental changes in the American society like the enlistment of African-American in the army, and the permission for blacks to handle firearms.

The Civil War was a war between the Confederate and the Union side, and it involved the entire American society, including the minorities that served as slaves in the Confederate States. African-Americans are among the ethnic groups that played major roles in both sides of the war. The war marked the development of cohesion among the minority and majority ethnic groups in the Union, but it highlighted a high level of inequality between the minority and the majority ethnic groups in the Confederate States. The Civil War is a historical landmark that provided a fundamental point of social changes for the African-Americans and the entire American society. This paper looks at the civil war, with a close focus on the African-Americans who took part in the war.

The Union army was comprised of independent African-Americans. This army was also braced with some of the African-Americans who had escaped from slavery in the Confederate States (Lardas, 2012). In the Confederate States, African-Americans were also forced into the war, but since they were not considered equals to the whites, they were forced to work in the support function of the army. Most of the African-Americans worked as nurses and cooks, as well as manual laborers to carry heavy loads that the white regiments required in the war ( Teaching with Documents , 2015). The Civil War saw a large number of African-American men applying for enlistment in the army, and they were allowed to arm themselves for the first time in the history of America. Most of the African-Americans volunteered to become soldiers to liberate themselves economically because of the benefits that soldiers received from the government. The Bureau of colored troops looked at the matters concerning black troops, and it ensured that their rights were enforced during their service.

The military was a better place to be for the members of the black troops on the Union side, but it was a cruel place for African-Americans in the Confederate States ( Black Civil War Soldiers , 2015). The role of the blacks on the Union side was to fight against the enemy and to protect the legacy of the Union. These African-Americans were not treated equal to the white soldiers, but they were paid by the authorities ( The Importance of African-American Soldiers in Civil War , 2015). Their salaries were at least $6 less than what the whites were receiving ( African-American Soldiers During the Civil War , 2015). On the Confederate side, the black soldiers were laborers (Reis, 2009). They did all the dirty and difficult work for the white troops. The blacks were unarmed slaves; hence, their roles included cooking for the troops, fetching water, transporting heavy luggage, and nursing the wounded soldiers ( History of the Colored Troops in the American Civil War , 2015). The majority of these African-Americans were forced to take part in these roles. The Confederates made the blacks running their camps, and they did not allow them to handle guns. The Union, on the other hand, used some of the black soldiers as spies (Walbridge, 2000). They also placed in strategic areas to guard camps and bridges. By 1864, the Confederates were in dire need of more blacks in the troops, and the administration passed a law that promised freedom to the enlisted African-Americans.

Black soldiers could enlist following the development of the Second Confiscation and Militia act of 1982. The majority of the volunteers were looking for financial liberation, but the main motivating factor was the hope of becoming full citizens of the Union side (Williams, 2014). The civil war saw the black Americans enjoy some freedom, but it was short lived. After joining the troops, the blacks were not commissioned into leadership roles (Coddington, 2012). This means that the commanders of the black troops were always white soldiers. White commanders had a low opinion of their black subjects, and they failed to train some of the troops adequately ( The Civil War , 2015). It was also apparent that the captured African-American soldiers were treated harshly by both sides of the war. The Confederates turned the captured African-Americans into slaves, whereas the Union soldiers the black soldiers were imprisoned and treated inhumanely (Smith, 2004).

The Civil War provided a platform for the blacks and whites in America to undertake a similar course in the fight for superiority against their respective enemy. The Union side provided an opportunity for the blacks to volunteer in the war, and it also compensated them well. This was an opportunity for the financial liberation of the blacks, and it also presented the possibility of becoming full citizens of the Union. The Confederates had a different approach in handling the blacks. The African-Americans on the Confederate side were confined to work in the camps. The blacks were rarely treated equal to the whites. Segregation was still present in the troops, despite the soldiers fighting against mutual enemies from the respective sides.

African-American Soldiers During the Civil War . (2015). 

Black Civil War Soldiers . (2015). Web.

Coddington, R. S. (2012). African-American Faces of the Civil War: An Album . Maryland: JHU Press.

History of the Colored Troops in the American Civil War . (2015). Web.

Lardas, M. (2012). African-American Soldier in the Civil War: USCT 1862-66 . Oxford: Osprey Publishing.

Reis, R. A. (2009). African-Americans and the Civil War . New York: Infobase Publishing.

Smith, J. D. (2004). Black Soldiers in Blue: African-American Troops in the Civil War Era . North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press.

Teaching with Documents: The Fight for Equal Rights: Black Soldiers in the Civil War. (2015). Web.

The Civil War. (2015). Web.

The Importance of African-American Soldiers in Civil War. (2015). Web.

Walbridge, M. (2000). African-American Heroes of the Civil War . Portland: Walch Publishing.

Williams, D. (2014). I Freed Myself: African-American Self-Emancipation in the Civil War Era . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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Black Soldiers In The Civil War Essay

The goals of frederick douglass.

The Civil War is widely regarded as the bloodiest war in US history. Roughly 620,000 soldiers died fighting both for and against the abolition of slavery. During this era, many advocates for the abolition of slavery gave speeches in order to convince the nation of the evils of the institution of slavery. One of the most important of these advocates was a former slave named Frederick Douglass who became literate while a slave and gave many speeches to many different audiences. In Frederick Douglass’ speech to the Rochester Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Society on July 5, 1852, entitled ¨What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?¨, he presents his goals of abolishing slavery and enforcing equality between people of color and white people. Although legally it appears that his goals have been accomplished, the mindset and inequality of Douglass’ time still exists, and it is becoming more prevalent in the US.

Why the American Civil War Was Necessary

Usually they were put in bad positions, but they still got the chance to fight for their freedom and earned respect amongst each other. On the other hand, in the South, African-Americans had no choice. If their owners wanted them to fight, they would enlist them into the Confederate army. Obviously, not many of them wanted to because after all, the Southern states were battling for the right to continue on with slaves.

Essay on African Americans Influence on Civil War

African Americans helped shape the civil war in many ways. In fact, they were basically the underlying cause for the war in the first place. African Americans were slaves and had been treated like property since they first arrived in America. Therefore, the possibility of freedom for these slaves caused a big uproar in the south. The issue of equal rights for African Americans, the country’s ignorance to African American’s abilities and willingness to learn caused a divide between the states. The strong differing opinions about slavery led to what is known as the bloodiest U.S. war of all time.

African Americans in the American Civil War Essay examples

When word of African Americans enlisting in the Union Army got out, the Confederate Army lashed out many threats. They

Disadvantages Of Civil War

“Black Soldiers in the U.S. Military During the Civil War.” National Archives and Records Administration, National Archives and Records Administration,

African American Soldiers During The American Civil War Essay

The story of African American soldiers in the American Civil War is often a forgotten one. The history of the war is usually presented as white Northerners versus white Southerners as blacks waited on the sidelines as their fate was determined. This portrayal is highly inaccurate considering over 180,000 African American troops fought in the war and eventually obtained their own regiments under the United States Colored Troops as a part of the Union Army. Composed on May, 22, 1863, the USCT strengthened the Union Army’s numbers and contributed significantly to battles such as the Skirmish at Island Mound and Fort Wagner. Even with their contributions, African American soldiers are often overlooked in favor of other narratives. However, black historian George Washington Williams was one of the first to write the history of black troops today. His belief was that the history of black troops and their valor were a major contribution to American Civil War history. While controversial at the time, this view is not uncommon today and historians have continued to study the significance of black troops. Gregory J. W. Urwin and other historians recently wrote a critique on the treatment of black soldiers, acknowledging atrocities against them were committed often. Urwin tries to provide a honest history to the brutality of the black solider.

Racial Hierarchies

As freed black men escaped their captivity as being enslaved in the South, racial equality in society was not reciprocated by white Americans. Even though African Americans were away from the constraints of slavery, they held a lower social status and were racially inferior by their community. Racial hierarchies were not only imposed in society but also in the military during the Civil War. As the Civil War broke out between the Union and the Confederate, President Lincoln believed that an all-white army had the capability of fighting off the Confederate units and that this war would be swift. The war progressed and the Union soon realized that they needed more reinforcements which would come from the freed black men in the North. During the Civil War, black soldiers would challenge and reinforce the existing racial hierarchies because the dispute of manhood amongst races would be enforce by violence that deterred black men from challenging their social status.

The Civil War : America 's Most Brutal Battles

The Civil War was one of America’s most brutal battles in history. Majority of which being white, male soldiers. Over the years, many historians have argued the actual involvement of blacks during the civil war era. Many claiming that they were doing nothing more than assisting the actual, white soldiers in combat such as, nurses, and wagon drivers, not actually picking up the gun and shooting alongside in battle. Most people look over the fact that almost ten percent, or 180,000, of the Union army were African American. Though a small fraction of the amount of total soldiers during the war, their involvement is still significant. These soldiers recruited and voluntarily, committing the same acts of bravery of any Caucasian solider, due to the prejudice against them, they were pushed to the back burner and treated with disrespect, virtually diminishing their extensive courageous acts. Nevertheless these soldiers made an impact in world changing war.

Contribution of Different Groups to the Civil War and an Analysis of the Gettysburg Address

The Confederate Army continued to use slaves during the war but did not allow African-Americans to fight. Even the Confederates' treatment of black

Essay African Americans in the Civil War

Once let the black man get upon his person the brass letter, 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."

Westward Expansion Of The United States

Black men were denied the opportunity to fight for the union in the early phases of the war. Ultimately, the union changed their mind and allowed black men. The decision was not a light-hearted one. Even though blacks and white northerners were fighting to end slavery, white men wanted nothing to do with black men. Often times black men faced discrimination and violence. White officers did not want to head black regimes in fear of their reputation. Fortunately, there were successful black regimens. One of those regimes was the 54th

How Did The Civil War Affect The Treatment Of African Americans

The Union segregated African Americans into all black units that were commanded by white officers. Instead of being used on the battlefields, the black units only served as laborers. They served duties

Benefits Of The Black Union Army

The black union army is a term commonly used to refer to the black men of African American origin who were mostly recruited into the American army as a consequence of the civil war between the northern and southern states. This war came to an end with the surrender of the nonfederal forces in 1865, after a fierce battle that had started three years prior with the firing on Fort Sumter.

The Daily Life of Civil War Soldiers Essay

Prejudice was also very evident towards African Americans in the Union forces in that they were usually assigned to labor duties, such as cleaning camps, building defenses and garrison duty, and in many cases not allowed to fight. Up until 1864, there was even a difference in pay for black soldiers, and they were not allowed to be commissioned officers.

Roy Wilkins Inequality In Vietnam

The Black soldiers fought for equality throughout the ranks because they were being taken into the military at the same rate as the whit inductees. Many black soldiers would be segregated would serve primarily in non-combat units but they still served with pride. Being a part of this great military and an opportunity for them to create an identity for themselves was looked upon as progress. In military segregation, black American leaders employed a variety of strategies; they mobilized the black civilian workforce, black women’s groups, black college students, and an interracial coalition to resist this blatant inequality.

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Black soldiers in the civil war.

            Although they experienced discrimination and prejudice, they fought with great bravery and courage. Their effect on the United States was overwhelming. African American soldiers played an important role in the struggle to end slavery. They soldiers fought besides white soldiers all throughout the Civil War. African American soldiers defended their country for freedoms that they would never partake in because they were promised freedom in exchange for combat time ( Although African Americans only made up one percent of the North's population, there were 180,000 soldiers during the Civil War. That was about ten percent of all Union Troops in the army at that time. Also, some 30,000 African American soldiers served in the Union Navy (              On March 2, 1863, the out spoken abolitionist, Frederick Douglass, published an article in hist newspaper, the Douglass Monthly. It was called "Men of Color, to Arms!" Since they knew that if the North lost, it meant they would be enslaved once again, free African Americans and former slaves joined the army. Frederick Douglass wrote and spoke supporting of the recruiting of African American soldiers in the army. "Once let the African-American man get upon his person the brass letters, U.S., let him get an eagle upon his button, and a musket on his shoulder and bullets in his pockets, and there is no power on earth which can deny that he has earned the right to citizenship in the United States". Fredrick Douglass expressed that a "black man" could not be denied of his citizenship as he fought with his life for that country ( exhibit/aopart4.html) African Americans tried to enlist in the Union Army ever since the very beginning of the Civil War. Early during the war, they were rejected because most white soldiers were not comfortable fighting side by side with African American soldiers.

Essays Related to Black soldiers in the civil war

1. black soldiers in the civil war.

black soldiers in the civil war essay

The American Civil War was a conflict between the Union and the Confederacy. It was a war between the states. ... Although many do not know of their role, the black soldiers played a very significant part in the American Civil war. ... These soldiers sacrificed everything and still did not receive the same treatment as the white soldiers. ... "No officer in this regiment now doubts that the key to the successful prosecution of this war lies in the unlimited employment of black troops. ...

2. Blacks in the American Civil War

black soldiers in the civil war essay

Blacks in the American Civil War Despite extreme prejudices from the white society, African American soldiers were true heroes in the American Civil War. ... Most of the white population considered the Civil War to be a "White man's war." ... Fredrick Douglass, a powerful black leader in New York, saw the Civil War as a road to emancipation for the slaves. ... Many more blacks served in the Union Army, both free blacks and runaway slaves joined the Union Army (Colored Troops in the Civil War). ... Losses among blacks were high, and from all reported casualties, approximately one...

3. The Civil War And The Progress Of African Americans

black soldiers in the civil war essay

It is the day that the Civil war began. ... African Americans played a major role in the Civil War. ... Soon after the Civil War, there was Reconstruction, a period of recovery from the war. ... During World War civil rights groups pressed the government to provide training for black pilots on an equal basis with whites (Memory). ... Smalls 6 The Civil War was the starting point for the advancement of blacks in this country. ...

4. Role Of Blacks In The Civil War

black soldiers in the civil war essay

The Civil War occurred for many reasons. ... The Civil War began in 1861 and ended in 1865.By the end of the Civil War 186,000 blacks soldiers had served in the war. ... Reasons Why the Civil War Began. ... The Role of Blacks in the Civil War. ... The End of the Civil War....

5. African Americans in the Civil War

black soldiers in the civil war essay

African Americans and the Civil War The Civil War was a fight for the emancipation of slaves in the United States during the 1860's. ... Approximately 180,000 black men served under a white Union commander during the Civil War. ... Many Union soldiers in the Civil War had not previously seen a black man in their lives until they enrolled in the armed services. ... Money was only one of the hardships that black soldiers were forced to deal with due to the prejudices and racism that took place during the Civil War. ... Racism was a big problem that formed between the whites and blacks...

6. Black and War

African Americans fought for their freedom, and up until the Civil War it was never given to them. When the Civil War began, they wanted to take part in fighting to free all slaves. ... However, even he could not stop the outbreak of the Civil War (Fincher). ... "In general, white soldiers and officers believed that black men lacked the courage to fight and fight well" (History of African-Americans in the Civil War). ... In a battle at Port Hudson, Louisiana on May 27, 1863, African American soldiers advanced on open ground (History of African-Americans in the Civil War). ...

black soldiers in the civil war essay


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    Early in February 1863, the abolitionist Governor John A. Andrew of Massachusetts issued the Civil War’s first official call for Black soldiers. More than 1,000 men responded. They formed...

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    Black soldiers served in artillery and infantry and performed all noncombat support functions that sustain an army, as well. Black carpenters, chaplains, cooks, guards, laborers, nurses, scouts, spies, steamboat pilots, surgeons, and teamsters also contributed to the war cause. There were nearly 80 black commissioned officers.

  3. African Americans in the Civil War | American Battlefield Trust

    Sergeant Nimrod Burke of the 23 rd USCT, started the war as a civilian teamster and scout for the 36 th Ohio Volunteer Infantry in April 1861. In 1864, he enlisted in the 23 rd United States Colored Troops. He was one of many Black men who served with the Union army in another capacity, then served with the United States Colored Troops.

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    Black American fighters made about 10 % of the Union Army. Probably one-third of all black American soldiers that enlisted are died in battles. The whole number of those black people who died during the Civil War is around 40,000 and almost 30,000 of them were died because of different diseases and infections.

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    Black Soldiers In The Civil War Essay 613 Words3 Pages When Union troops invaded Confederate states, thousands of black slaves flocked to Union camps for a chance to fight and a chance for freedom. Many of these men were unofficially allowed to enlist in the Union Army.

  7. African-Americans in the Civil War | Free Essay Example

    The civil war saw the black Americans enjoy some freedom, but it was short lived. After joining the troops, the blacks were not commissioned into leadership roles (Coddington, 2012). This means that the commanders of the black troops were always white soldiers.

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    Black soldiers played a significant role during the Civil War, and their contributions, on and off the battlefield, eventually facilitated a Union victory over the Confederate troops. Black soldier - 1. Physical advantage: large numbers (manpower)/offered extensive support to the war effort; contributed greatly to the Union victory of the Civil War

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    Money was only one of the hardships that black soldiers were forced to deal with due to the prejudices and racism that took place during the Civil War. ... Racism was a big problem that formed between the whites and blacks... Word Count: 2388 Approx Pages: 10 Grade Level: High School 6. Black and War