Essay on African Americans in the Civil War

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African American contributions were not limited to the role of working the fields in the south or supplying labor for industry in the north. Many Negroes in both south and north participated in either direct or supporting roles in the military. While few saw combat in the south many northern black troops did see combat. The north started using black regiments to further beef up its already large white force. This spurred the southern General Robert E. Lee in 1865 to reopen the idea of using slaves as soldiers for the south. This idea had previously been trashed by legislators. One General Cobb of Georgia stated, "You cannot make soldiers of slaves....If slaves will make good soldiers our whole theory of slavery is wrong." With Robert …show more content…
William H. Carney of the 54th Mass. Volunteers received the Congressional medals of Honor for bravery during the assault on Fort Wagner. John H. Lawson also won the Congressional medals of Honor for his heroism in the battle of Mobile Bay.4 Scores of other Negro soldiers fought bravely in combat and many were recognized for their heroism. Over 100 black soldiers were commissioned officers during the Civil War.5 Although many things had changed for blacks many things still remained the same. Black soldiers earned ten dollars a day. This was three dollars less than normal compared to their white comrades who made at least 13 dollars a day.6 One black regiment stacked arms in front of their commanding officers tent and refused to pick them up again until paid fairly.6 Lincoln's response to the action was, "The employment of colored troops at all was a great gain to the colored people."8 Despite the unequal pay, unequal treatment, and relatively unchanged status Negroes from all walks of life slave and free man alike flocked to take up arms against the system that had oppressed them for a century.

Blacks in the Union Navy

On out of every four Union sailors was black.9 Of the 118,044 sailors in the Union navy, 29,511 were blacks.10 At least four black sailors won Congressional medals of Honor.11

Blacks in the Confederacy

The Confederacy was the first to recognize that blacks were major factors in the

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