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African American Troops in the Civil War


The American Civil War lasted from 1861 through 1865 and was a turning point in the history of the United States. Over 180,000 African Americans fought in this war, on both sides of the battle. They were instrumental in the Northern Victory over the Confederacy.

The life of a colored soldier was not an easy one. The treatment of most colored soldiers was sub-standard, and they often bore the brunt of ridicule and violence. Although they fought as equals, they were not treated the same as the white soldiers. They were paid less than white soldiers, only making $7.00 a month, compared to the $10.00 a month that the other soldiers were receiving. African American units were given the most dangerous and least desirable missions, resulting in a higher percentage of colored soldiers being killed or injured.  The total number of African American soldiers who died during the Civil War was around 37,000.

This did not stop the all-black troops from claiming major victories during their fight for freedom. The most celebrated unit during the Civil War was the 54th Massachusetts. They were involved in the Attack at Fort Wagner, and the Battle of Ulustee. The unit was recognized by Congress for their bravery, and William Carney, a member of the unit, became the first black American to receive the Medal of Honor.

African American troops in the Civil War were fighting for more than the preservation of the Union. They were fighting for their freedom and for equality. Although it would take more than 100 years before their dream of equality would be realized, the African Americans who fought in the Civil War took a huge step in the right direction through their service to the country.

General History

History of African Americans in the Civil War

Colored Troops in the American Civil War

Fight for Rights: Black Soldiers in the Civil War

History of Colored Troops in the American Civil War

The Civil War: Judgment Day

Preserving the Legacy of the Colored Troops

African American Soldiers During the Civil War

African Americans in the Civil War: Equality Earned with Blood

Life as a Black Union Soldier in the Civil War

Black Soldiers in the Civil War

Documents and Photographs

The Valley of the Shadow- Civil War Documents

Photographs and Prints Reading Room

Important people

Black Heroes in Every War

William H. Carney – First Black US Soldier to receive the Medal of Honor

The 54th Massachusetts Infantry

Civil War History

The American Civil War Home Page

American Civil War Timeline

The American Civil War

Resource Lists

United States Colored Troops in the Civil War

University of Northern Texas American Civil War Web Resources

Civil War: African American Soldiers

African Americans in the Civil War


Colored Troops in the American Civil War Reference Books

African Americans Soldiers in the Civil War: Books and Articles


The African American Civil War Monument



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