The African American Soldier: The Fight for Respect

 


Approximately 186,000 African Americans fought for the Union during the Civil War. It is estimated that from 38,000 to 40,000 died.  No exact record is available for the number of African Americans who fought for the Confederacy.  Many men brought their slaves with them to serve as orderlies.  Some estimates  of African Americans involved on the Southern side are very high because the numbers include those slaves who were forced to help construct defenses and serve in other support areas.  The most reasonable estimate I have seen is 250-300 blacks.  This figure may include Black Indians, Hispanics, and other non-whites.  


 

"Once let the black man get upon his person the brass letters U.S., let him get an eagle on his button, and a musket on his soldier, and bullets in his pocket, and there is no power on earth or under the earth which can deny that he has earned the right of citizenship in the United States." --- Frederick Douglas, July 6, 1863

"The question that negroes will fight is settled; besides, they make better soldiers in every respect than any troops I have ever had under my command." --- James Blunt, letter to friend of July 27, 1863 before the battle of Honey Springs, OK

"The next hospital I enter will, I hope, be one for the colored regiments, as they seem to be proving their right to the admiration and kind offices of their white relations, who owe them so large a debt, a little of which I shall be so proud to pay."  --- Louisa May Alcott, Hospital Sketches, 1863

"Do you know that if it was not for the black men this war  never would have been brought to a close with success to the Union, and the liberty of your race, if it had not been for the Negro.  I want you to understand that."  ---- Major Martin R. Delaney, African American recruiter and first black staff officer in the US military, 1865


 

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The African American Soldier: The Fight for Respect

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Battles in Which African American Troops Participated *

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People *

 

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Revised 04/21/2014