Union (American Civil War) - Wikipedia

As Hunter, Lane, and Butler built their regiments in the field, Congress moved toward providing permission from Washington. On July 17, 1862, Congress passed the Second Confiscation Act and the Militia Act, both of which authorized the president to employ African Americans as workers or soldiers. Lincoln remained noncommittal, but in August his secretary of war, Edwin M. Stanton, ordered Union general Rufus Saxton to organize a regiment of black soldiers in the South Carolina Sea Islands on an experimental basis. By the end of the year, Saxton had successfully raised the 1st South Carolina Colored Volunteers, and the regiment had participated in raids on the Atlantic coast. Farther west, James Lane's regiments also fought in some skirmishes during the autumn of 1862.

America’s Painful, Historic Contempt for Black Soldiers

United States Colored Troops, The - Encyclopedia Virginia

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The presence of African American soldiers on the battlefields afforded them opportunities to win glory and acceptance, but also exposed them to racially motivated violence. When the United States Congress first authorized black military service in the summer of 1862, the Confederate War Department responded with General Order No. 60, issued on August 21, 1862. The order indicated that the Confederacy would not treat black men as soldiers, but would instead view them as slaves in a state of insurrection, making them liable to execution or sale into slavery. White officers captured while leading or training black troops would be tried for a felony, for which they could receive the death penalty. Confederate president and the Confederate Congress ratified these policies in subsequent pronouncements. On July 30, 1863, the Lincoln administration ordered retaliation for the mistreatment of black prisoners, pledging to execute one prisoner of war for every member of the USCT sentenced to death, and to put captured Confederates to hard labor for any black soldier sold into slavery. In 1864, the Confederate government's refusal to exchange black prisoners led to a breakdown in the practice of parole and exchange for white prisoners of war.

Yes, There Were Black Confederates. Here’s Why

USCT regiments were also present in the final campaigns of the war. In December 1864, the Union army organized the all-black Twenty-fifth Corps under General Godfrey Weitzel, which took part in the amphibious assault on Fort Fisher off Wilmington, North Carolina, one of the last ports to be seized by Union troops. In the West, black soldiers fought at the Battle of Nashville in December 1864 and assisted in the capture of Mobile, Alabama, in 1865. The 21st USCT and elements of the 54th Massachusetts were among the first soldiers to enter Charleston, South Carolina, early in 1865, and, after the evacuation of Richmond in April 1865, the 5th Massachusetts Colored Cavalry and Weitzel's Twenty-fifth Corps joined lead elements in taking possession of .

A bona fide classic, the Sable Arm was the first work to fully chronicle the remarkable story of the nearly 180,000 black troops who served in the Union army.

Experts say black Confederate soldiers didn’t fight for …

Service also qualified some black soldiers and their families for military pensions after the war. In the immediate postwar years, disabled veterans could apply for government money to support themselves and their families. After 1890, Congress authorized more general support for veterans and their widows. More than two dozen members of the USCT were awarded the Medal of Honor for their Civil War service.

As the war escalated, public pressure increased to enlist black women

Although African American soldiers continued to face discrimination, by the time the war ended, they had won a permanent place in the military. As Union forces demobilized, many USCT regiments remained in service. By the fall of 1865, black regiments made up as much as one-third of the Union forces occupying the South. Reconstruction duty presented rewards as well as challenges. On the one hand, black soldiers were able to play an active role in supporting the , protecting former slaves, and enforcing the Reconstruction amendments. On the other hand, they faced hostility from white southern civilians, and they had to deal with a government whose commitment to protecting African Americans wavered. In Virginia, complaints from white citizens resulted in the removal of most black troops from the state. Late in April and early in May 1865, the Twenty-fifth Corps, made up of USCT units, was ordered from Virginia to Texas, where it served along the Rio Grande during the U.S. government's standoff with France over Austrian Archduke Maximilian's puppet empire in Mexico.

Two lawmakers want to honor South Carolina’s black Confederate soldiers. But state law prohibited blacks from fighting for the South.

In the meantime, atrocities occurred on the battlefield. On April 12, 1864, Confederate cavalry under the command of Nathan Bedford Forrest overran an interracial Union garrison at Fort Pillow, Tennessee, on the Mississippi River. Many Union troops, mostly black soldiers, were shot down as they attempted to surrender. Similar incidents occurred at the Battle of Poison Springs, Arkansas, in April 1864, and at the Battle of the Crater, in Virginia. At the town of , Confederate soldiers executed scores of black prisoners of war after a battle in the vicinity on October 2, 1864, in what is often regarded as the second-most-deadly massacre of black troops by Confederates after Fort Pillow. The victims included sick and wounded men who had fallen into Confederate hands.