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The Importance Of Black Soldiers In The Civil War

1969 words - 8 pages

The American Civil War is perhaps the most important event in U.S. history since the American Revolution. Over half a million men would perish between the Union and Confederate Armies. It is important to know that Ulysses S. Grant was an important figure (perhaps the most important behind Abraham Lincoln) in the war. Many will see him as the hero of the American Civil War. Nevertheless there were others who would play an important role to help the Union win the Civil War. The use of black soldiers was crucial to the Union in order to achieve victory against the Confederate Army. Yet, the contributions and accomplishments of black soldiers during the Civil War were neglected for nearly a ...view middle of the document...

When the Civil War began, former slave Fredrick Douglas asked President Abraham Lincoln to create a Black regiment of around 10,000 men. Douglas’s hope was to have the regiment created within thirty days. Douglas quoted, “One black regiment alone would be, in such a war, the full equal of two white ones.” In the first year of the American Civil War, no black men served in the Union Army. The war department had no intention to recruit black soldiers even if they were willing to fight. The war department saw no need for black soldiers because they thought the war would only last months. The United States Congress would eventually authorize the enlistment of black soldiers in 1862 but would not see combat until 1863. Most Americans (In the North and South) were not ready to accept black men as soldiers. America was deemed a white powerful nation. The “No Negroes Need Apply” policy came to effect. Not until President Abraham Lincoln signed the Second Confiscation Act (1862) and the Militia Act (1862), where free black men were allowed to enlist in the Union Army and join the fight against the Confederate Army. Over 180,000 Negroes served in the Union Army, another 20,000 joined the Navy. It is uncertain how many black soldiers fought for Confederate side. Most of the black soldiers consisted of free blacks, and runaway slaves from the South. Even thought the first black regiments were created, many black soldiers still had to deal with discrimination and racism within the Union Army. Many white soldiers were not happy that black soldiers had enlisted to fight alongside them. Many black soldiers were assigned to the most degrading duties and were provided inferior equipment to accomplish many of those assignments. Other issues black soldiers had to deal with were their pay in the Union Army. Black soldiers would only receive $10 a month compared to their white counterparts who made $13 a month. The $3 deduction was to pay for clothing. White soldiers never had to pay for their clothing. Yet there were some who sympathized with black soldiers for equality. One of those men was a white officer named Col. Robert Gould Shaw. Shaw commanded the 54th Massachusetts which would become one of the most famous regiments in all the Civil War. Shaw fought for his soldiers to receive the basics necessities like shoes and socks. But the majority of citizens and white soldiers were not happy about black soldiers serving in the Civil War. Between 1862 and 1863 many white soldiers and even Northern civilians tried to undercut black military service. Many mobs, which included white soldiers, would pick fights with black soldiers. White soldiers were not ready to receive black soldiers and were reluctant to fight side by side with them. Being part of the Union Army was difficult for a black soldier, since slavery and racism separated them from mainstream America. Eventually black soldiers would prove themselves in the battlefield and make the transition from slave...

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