By: Felix Agyeman
When the Civil War first started, blacks or African Americans weren't really allowed to fight for the North because President Lincoln thought that if he allowed African Americans to fight that it would push loyal border states to secede from the Union. However, after two grueling years of war, President Lincoln reconsidered his position on black soldiers.
African American Soldiers
-The Second Confiscation didn't exactly say to for were allowed to fight, but it did allow the president to recruit as many African decent to join in his rebellion against the Confederacy.
-Some African Americans took into there own power to start up a national guard in Louisiana named the First, Second, and Third Native Guard.
The Beginning of the Civil War for Blacks
In 1863, the call for the first Civil War black soldiers was issued in Massachusetts. This group of black men were called the 54th Massachusetts infantry regiment. More than a thousand men responded to the regiment and more then half of them weren't from Massachusetts, they were from slave states, Canada, and the Caribbean. Massachusetts governor Andrew chose a young white officer to lead the black regiment named Robert Gould Shaw.
-July 18th, 1864, the 54th regiment marched to Fort Wagner, which was guarding the Port of Charleston in South Carolina. It was the first black infantry attack in the civil war.
-Sadly, the black 54th infantry regiment was outgunned but the confederacy and out numbered. About 600 of the men died while confederate troops up to 1,700 waited inside Fort Wagner and were ready for battle. Almost half of the Union soldiers died, and along side them so did Colonel Shaw.
How Black Soldiers were Treated in Civil War
After a couple of black military regiments were formed, black Civil War soldiers were common in infantries in the war. But the African Americans that enlisted were not treated fairly by all means. Black soldiers would be paid $3 less than white soldiers for the Union and three of those dollars were towards their clothing. Also if black union soldiers were caught by confederates they would be treated ten times worse than white soldiers and often just killed.
-In battle, black soldiers would be captured by the confederacy and treated terribly. The Confederate soldiers would often take black soldiers and make them into slaves but most of the time they killed the blacks on the battle field.
-African American soldiers were paid $10 a month and three dollars went to clothes, while white soldiers got paid $13 a month and didn't have to pay the three dollars for clothes. But in June 1864, congress passed granted retroactive equal pay.
Roles of African Americans during Civil War
Many blacks and African Americans were willing to enlist during the civil war but in the south many blacks were forced into a salve labor force. The confederacy would also bring slaves with to tend to their masters in the war camps and would sometimes take their masters place in the front lines of battles. Tens and thousands of African Americans served, willingly or otherwise.
-During the midpoint of the Civil War, the confederacy was in need of troops. State militias offered the confederates freed black man to aid them in the war but the south refused.
-March 13th, 1865, legislation was finally passed that any blacks that enlisted in the army would become free. But only about 50 would be granted this because slaves would have to get permission from their masters.
African Americans played an important role in the civil war. But the most important is blacks coming together and fighting along side whites and not giving up on what they believed could be a bright future for many African Americans. When fighting along side some, you learn to think differently about someone else. It does not matter what color, religion, or beliefs when you live next to someone, fight next to someone, and die next to someone. There is only trust in your peers whether it be in school, sports, family, and of course war.
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