The black soldier in our civil war

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Raising (creating) African-American regiments in the Union's war efforts was, at first, not accepted by officials within the Union command structure, President Abraham Lincoln included. Concerns over the response of the “border state”s (of which one, Maryland, surrounded the National Capital of Washington D.C.), the response of white soldiers and officers, as well as the effectiveness of a “colored” fighting force were raised.

Despite official worry from above, a number of officers in the field experimented, with varying degrees of success--first for manual labor around Army, later raising Black regiments, of soldiers.

On July 17, 1862, the U.S. Congress passed two Acts allowing for the enlistment of "Colored" troops (African Americans) but official enrollment occurred only after the final issuance of the "Emancipation Proclamation" in January 1863.

However, State and local militia units had already begun enlisting Blacks, including the "Black Brigade of Cincinnati", raised in September 1862 to help provide manpower to thwart a feared Confederate raid on Cincinnati from Kentucky.

In actual numbers, African American soldiers eventually comprised 10% of the entire Union Army (United States Army).

Losses among African Americans were high. In the last year and a half, of the war, and from all reported casualties, approximately 20% of all African Americans enrolled in the military lost their lives during the Civil War.

Notably, their mortality (death) rate was significantly higher than white soldiers;

[We] "find, according to the revised official data(…) Of the 67,000 Regular Army (white) troops, 8.6%, or not quite 6,000, died. Of the approximately 180,000 United States Colored Troops, however, over 36,000 died, or 20.5%. In other words, the mortality "rate" amongst the United States Colored Troops in the Civil War was thirty-five percent greater than that among other troops[even though African-Americans] were not enrolled until some eighteen months after the fighting began".

Questions:- On a separate piece of paper.

  1. What was the “official” reaction at first to the idea of arming African-American soldiers for the Union Army?

  2. What groups had already begun enlisting Black men to fight for them, even before the US Army decided to “officially enroll” African-American soldiers?

  3. What was the difference in mortality rate between White and Black soldiers? In percentages, did more Black or more White soldiers die?

  4. Thinking Question:

Knowing what you know about the time of the Civil War, and the lives that African-Americans led in the US of the 1800’s, what DO YOU THINK might be some reasons that Black soldiers death rates in the war were so high?

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