Black Civil War Soldiers Facts

Black Civil War Soldiers Facts
Blacks served in combat roles for the Union Army beginning in 1862, but played a more significant role in the last two years of the war. The regiments of black soldiers, usually called "colored regiments," were comprised of both free and recently freed former slaves. Black soldiers, both free and freedmen, were first allowed to fight in the Union army under the Militia Act of July 1862 and the Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863 further sanctioned the use of black troops in the Union army. Over 186,000 black men enlisted in the Union Army, with over 7,000 attaining officer ranks. The Confederacy was for most the part hostile toward any idea of arming blacks, free or slave, and only agreed to do so toward the end of the war, but no black Confederates ever saw combat.
Interesting Black Civil War Soldiers Facts:
The 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry was the most famous and effective of all black Union regiments, having fought in several battles, including the Second Battle of Fort Wagner on July 18, 1863.
The first regiments of black soldiers were formed in Louisiana and Kansas.
"Contrabands," the term given by Union military leaders for runaway slaves, comprised a large number of the early black soldiers.
White abolitionists served as important recruiters and later as officers in many black regiments.
Every black regiment was required to have a white commander
The Second Battle of Fort Wagner was the most notable battle black soldiers were involved in, but they also fought in Sherman's Atlanta campaign and the Battle of Chaffin's Farm among others.
Black sailors comprised about 16% of the Union Navy.
Black regiments were routinely paid less than other units until an act of Congress on June 15, 1864 guaranteed equal pay.
On March 13, 1865 the Confederate Senate passed a bill allowing slaves to serve in the Confederate Army. President Jefferson Davis issued an executive order with the law giving black Confederate soldiers freedom.
No black Confederate units saw combat.
Sixteen black soldiers earned the Congressional Medal of Honor for their actions during the American Civil War.
On black Union soldiers, President Lincoln remarked: "If they stake their lives for us they must be prompted by the strongest motive - event he promise of freedom. And the promise being made, must be kept."
Many black Union soldiers were killed instead of being taken captive by Confederate forces, such as at Fort Pillow on April 13, 1862.
Captured contraband black Union soldiers were often returned to their former masters, if it was known who they were or if they could be located, or put back into servitude, while free black capture Union soldiers were often placed in hard labor.
Toward the end of the war, the Confederates agreed to exchange captured black soldiers.
Black Union soldiers had an approximately 20% mortality rate during the war.

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