AFRICAN AMERICAN SLAVES
(The image on the right shows a troop of African American soldiers.)
On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed all the slaves in the South, although there were some restrictions. On December 6, 1865, the Thirteenth Amendment was ratified. THe Thirteenth Amendment truly freed enslaved African Americans.
One sixth of the African American slave population had fled from their owners in the Southern states to the free Northern states. Some stayed behind in the South, either because they were loyal to their master or they were forced to stay.
Some of the escaped slaves got low-paying jobs in the North, and made a small, yet stasfactory, living. Most of them, however, were quick to volunteer their services to the Union army. At first, African Americans were not permitted to join the army, but that later changed. A total of approximately 179,000 African Americans had joined the Union army, which was 10 percent of the army, and 20,000 had joined the Union navy. At first, their pay was less than a white soldier's, but Congress later passed a bill that decreed equal pay among all soldiers. Captured black soldiers suffered much harsher treatment than white captured soldiers, and even in the Union army, they were segregated and discriminated against. Despite that, they continued to fight for the Union, disregarding the prejudice if it meant that they would gain their freedom. 37,000 African American soldiers had died in the Civil War.
The South did not use African Americans as soldiers, bcause they would be given weapons. They feared the possibility of a slave rebellion, so they refused to arm African Americans. However, near the end of the war, the Confederate army became desperate enough to agree to free any African Americans that served in the war. The war ended before the Confederacy could start enlisting African Americans, though.
In both the Union army and the Confederate army, African Americans helped by becoming nurses, cooks, or blacksmiths. Some African Americans even became spies for the North. Harriet Tubman often spied behind Confederate lines and received valuable information on Confederate plans and intel, which she relayed to the North.