The Afro-Americans and The Civil War
"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. Their superiority lies simply in the fact that
they know the country, while white troops do not, and, moreover, that they have peculiarities of
temperament, position, and motive which belong to them alone. Instead of leaving their homes
and families to fight they are fighting for their homes and families, and they show the resolution
and sagacity which a personal purpose gives. It would have been madness to attempt, with the
bravest white troops what I have successfully accomplished with the black ones. Everything,
even to the piloting of the vessels and the selection of the proper points for cannonading, was
done by my own THE FIRST BLACK SOLDIERS
(Extracted from "Army Life in a Black Regiment" - Higginson. Published: Fields, Osgood and
Company, Boston, Massachusetts, 1870.) It had become a Nation divided, friend against friend, and brother against brother, it was a
Civil War. Many people lost their lives during this war, some unnecessarily. With Lincoln’s
Emancipation Proclamation came the hope of freedom for slaves. The only thing that Lincoln did
not count on was how long the war would last. If he had foreseen this, he would have enlisted the
aid of blacks as soldiers sooner than he did. This would have saved many lives that were lost, and
might have ended the war sooner.
On January 1,1863 President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation as the nation
was heading into the third year of America’s bloodiest battle - the Civil War. This proclamation
declared “all persons held as slaves within any State, or designated part of the State, the people
whereof shall be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever
Yet despite the way the Emancipation Proclamation was worded, it was limited in many
ways. The Proclamation only applied to those states that had seceded from the Union, thereby
leaving slavery untouched in the loyal border states. It also exempted some parts of the
Confederate states that had already been seized by the North. Most importantly, the freedom it
had promised depended upon the Union’s military victory in the war.
The Emancipation Proclamation did not immediately free a single slave, and it basically
transformed the war into one of slavery. Every step the Union Army took toward the South
expanded the area of freedom. The Proclamation also provided the acceptance of black men into
the Union Army and Navy, thereby letting those who were liberated to become liberators. Almost
200,000 black soldiers and sailors had fought for the Union and their freedom by the end of the
From the beginning of the Civil War, the slaves had acted to secure their own freedom.
The Emancipation Proclamation made the blacks realize that the war for the Union...