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Black Soldiers In The Civil War

996 words - 4 pages

Both free and enslaved African Americans participated in the Civil War. Blacks however, encountered many obstacles in the fight compared to their white counterparts.
The first obstacle that Blacks encountered was the “fight to fight.” Blacks were initially rejected as soldiers from both the Union and Confederate armies. Whites defined the war as a white’s man war and were not inclined to include Blacks in the fight. When a group of Ohio Blacks petitioned for the right to participate in the war Governor David Tod of Ohio stated, “Do you not know…that this is a white man’s government; that white men are able to defend the power and protect it? (McPherson 2008)” Other objections were ...view middle of the document...

In addition, free blacks petitioned legislators to “remove the word white from militia laws and allow blacks to take up arms against the rebels (McPherson 2008)” Northern blacks although persistent were continually denied their right as soldiers in the military.
Southern Blacks, showed their discontentment by running away to enemy lines. “When federal forces defeated Confederates in the Battle of Vicksburg in the summer of 1863, they brought by the Mississippi River valley under increasing control, and slaves flocked to Union encampments. By war’s end some five hundred thousand fugitives had moved within Union lines.” As runaways continued to heighten, black women coped with hardships of staying behind, since they were usually responsible for large numbers of children. Those who did escape would generally do so in family and community groups.
Through tiresome long efforts African Americans were slowly but surely allowed as first laborers and finally soldiers of the war. Yet, here they would still face discrimination and inequality. Black laborers worked in large gangs that were heavily supervised usually in jobs that white laborers disfavored. These jobs included, “cleaning cesspools, scrubbing privies, and policing ground.” Additionally, few of these workers received wages and were in-kind payments of clothing and food. “One northern employer said that such practices made him ‘ashamed to look a Negro in the face’ (McPherson 2008).” As soldiers Blacks fought in an estimated 450 battles and nearly 40 were major engagements. Although, in the beginning of African American recruitment many white soldiers were resentful in unsure Blacks were committed to proving their manhood. These newly recruited soldiers would prove to be some of the strongest and courage soldiers driven by their own liberation. M.M. Miller of Galena, Illinois describes this exact depiction in a letter to his aunt:

“I never more wish to hear the expression, the niggers won’t fight come with me 100 yards from where I sit, and I can show you the...

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