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African Americans in the Civil War

Notes from presentation:

Civil War Facts /Numbers
• Approximately 180,000 African Americans comprising 163 units served in the Union Army during the Civil War, and many more African Americans served in the Union Navy. Both free African Americans and runaway slaves joined the fight.

• The most widely known battle fought by African Americans was the assault on Fort Wagner, South Carolina, by the 54th Massachusetts on July 18, 1863. The 54th volunteered to lead the assault on the strongly-fortified Confederate positions.

• Although Black soldiers proved themselves as reputable soldiers, discrimination in pay and other areas remained widespread. According to the Militia Act of 1862, soldiers of African descent were to receive $10.00 a month, plus a clothing allowance of $3.50. Many regiments struggled for equal pay, some refusing any money until June 15, 1864, when Congress granted equal pay for all Black soldiers.

• Free Black musicians, cooks, soldiers and teamsters earned the same pay as White confederate privates. This was not the case in the Union army where Blacks did not receive equal pay. At the Confederate Buffalo Forge in Rockbridge County, Virginia, skilled Black workers "earned on average three times the wages of white Confederate soldiers and more than most Confederate army officers ($350- $600 a year).

• Black and white militiamen returned heavy fire on Union troops at the Battle of Griswoldsville (near Macon, GA). Approximately 600 boys and elderly men were killed in this skirmish.

• In 1864, President Jefferson Davis approved a plan that proposed the emancipation of slaves, in return for the official recognition of the Confederacy by Britain and France. France showed interest but Britain refused.

• By the time of the Confederate surrender in 1865, there were more African Americans in the Union army than there were soldiers in the Confederate army.


Creighton, Margaret S. The Color of Courage: Gettysburg's forgotten history: immigrants, women, and African Americans in the Civil War's defining battle, Basic Books, 2005.

Dorsey, Christopher, A Call to Arms: realities of military service for African Americans during the Civil War, Backintyme, 2007.

Evans, E. Raymond, Contributions by United States Colored Troops (USCT) of Chattanooga & North Georgia during the American Civil War, Reconstruction and formation of Chattanooga, 2004.

Forbes, Ella, African American women during the Civil War, Garland, 1998.

Glenn, Michael T., Frederick Douglass the founding father of free America: Pre Civil War years: 1818-1860, Silent Sentinel Studio, 2008.

Quarles, Benjamin, The Negro in the Civil War, Russell & Russell, 1968, 1953.

Thurmond, Michael L. Freedom: Georgia's Antislavery heritage, 1733-1865, Longstreet Press, 2002.

Ward, Andrew, The Slaves' War: The Civil War in the words of former slaves, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2008.

Referenced Web sites

Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System
African Americans in the Civil War
Saturday, 24 September 2011

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African Americans in the Civil War
Re: African Americans in the Civil War

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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