African American Soldier Experience

In the Civil War

Joining Military Forces During the Civil War

During the beginning of the Civil War many African American slaves enlisted in the Union Army hoping to exterminate slavery. Furthermore, slaves who fought for the Confederate Army were brought by their master's to serve as servants. In addition, free African American men were allowed to enlist in the Union Army after the Second Confiscation, the Militia Act, and the Emancipation Proclamation. A famous African American abolitionist named, Frederick Douglas, encouraged many African American men to enlist in the Union or Confederate Army to ensure citizenship.

54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment

The 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment was a Union battalion which contained a group of colored men from African decent. In addition, the 54th Massachusetts Regiment was the very first Regiment to obtain Northern raised, colored soldiers. During the middle of February 1863, about twenty-seven African American men signed up for the 54th Massachusetts due to viewing multiple newspaper ads and recruitment posters, but by the end of that particular week the total increased to seventy-two men whom enlisted in the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment. On July 16,1863, the Regiment served as a diversion for an intended attack on Morris Island, South Carolina. Moreover, that was one of the first battle the Infantry saw; unfortunately, the 54th Massachusetts did lose about forty-five men during this battle. Furthermore, on July 18, after numerous days of sleep deprivation, lack of food, water, and other supplies, the 54th Massachusetts Regiment was instructed to lead the attack on Fort Wagner located on Morris Island. Unfortunately, over half of the Infantry of men including their commander, Colonel Shaw, were killed,wounded, or missing at this battle. These men were honored for their bravery present during the attack on Fort Wagner because they never retreated, but stayed fighting and waiting for reinforcements who never came. Although the 54th Massachusetts Regiment faced heavy losses,, back home they were viewed as a major success; consequently, the success earned by the Infantry paved the way for many more colored men to join the war!

Well-Known African American People who Contributed to the Civil War

During the Antebellum Era, the Civil War, and the Reconstruction Era many African American figures became very well-known for their views on topics, such as, slavery. A slave by the name of Nat Turner made an impact during the Antebellum Era, or the time during before the Civil War occurred. In 1831, Turner led a failed slave rebellion in Southampton, Virginia. Furthermore, Turner and fellow slaves went from plantation to plantation killing white women and children while the men were attending a religious meeting. Although Turner failed and was put to death, he put fear of what slaves were indeed capable of in all Southerner's mind. Another significant figure was a former slave named, Frederick Douglas, escaped to the North at a young age away from slavery. As he grew older he became a very well-known abolitionist, lecturer, and author about anti-slavery. In addition Frederick Douglas impacted immensely on the way President Abraham Lincoln thought of slavery due to the experiences shared by Douglas during the Civil War. Lastly, an unfamiliar man to us, named Martin Delany served as the first African American field officer in the Civil War; consequently, after seeing a colored man as an officer in the United States Army, colored men felt inspired to enlist as well. Additionally, Delany was also an abolitionist and helped in the Anti- Slave Movements.

Differences between white American soldiers and African American soldiers during the civil war

African American soldiers were treated completely different from white soldiers during the civil war. The Emancipation Proclamation allowed for African American soldiers to enter the Union army. By the end of the war more than 180,000 African American soldiers had joined the fight. It was hard enough during the war for all soldiers but the African Americans also had to deal with racial prejudice. Many of the African Americans in the war were non combat and cooked and cleaned for the soldiers fighting. African American soldiers were only paid $10 per month with $3 deducted for clothing while white soldiers were paid $13 per month for doing the same amount of work even less. If soldiers were caught by the confederate army they'd be disciplined but the black soldiers would be punished more brutally than the white men. Despite how bad they were treated the African American soldiers served very well compared to how the white soldiers served. It is estimated that more than 1/3 of the African Americans serving in the war lost their lives in combat.
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