African Americans as Sailors and Soldiers for the Union in the Civil War

Topics: American Civil War, Confederate States of America, Union Army Pages: 4 (1238 words) Published: October 14, 2013
While the United States was beginning to develop, conflict between the individual states was the cause for division between America in 1861. When several of the Southern states broke away from the Union the Civil War was starting to fuel. From there one of the bloodiest wars in American history took place when the Confederates fired on Fort Sumter, the Federal military base in South Carolina. Through all of the battles and deaths, one of the greater aspects of the war was the courage and involvement of African-American soldiers and sailors of the Union army.

In 1861, the United States Navy needed an astounding number of people in order to blockade hundreds of miles of Confederate coast with not many troops. Due to a shortage of sailors, the Navy had to rely on a large number of African-Americans to fill these ranks. Luckily for the Navy, African-Americans have had experience in sailing on ships dating as far back to the Revolutionary War.

African-Americans only represented a small percentage of the Navy's manpower in 1861, but the exact number can subject to a lot of debate. Research throughout the 1900's conducted by different sources ranges the numbers somewhere between nine to twenty-five percent. These numbers equal about 10,000 to 32,000 soldiers. The exact could never be found due to the fact that navy documents never classified sailors by race, weird for the amount of racism going on at the time.

Not only did sailors play a big part in the Civil War, so did soldiers. Not including the Union Navy, about 180,000 African-Americans served in the Union Army. Since white soldiers believed black men lacked the courage to fight, blacks were given the chance to show whites the amount of courage they possessed, giving them a chance for equal rights. Until 1962, Abraham Lincoln feared letting African-Americans into the military.

He thought the already prejudice Northern whites might be stirred even more. The fact that he could weaken the more powerful...
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