American Civil War African American Soldiers
The Confiscation Act in 1862 authorized Lincoln to use escaped slaves as soldiers. By 1963, both freed slaves and free African American men began serving in the Union army. In response, some white Union officers and enlisted men resigned from the army. There was a great deal of racism in the Union army. African American soldiers often received the worst weapons, tired uniforms, shoes with holes in the soles. Some white soldiers treated African American soldiers as if they were servants, and ordered African American soldier to do their work. There were tales of beatings and brutality. Yet, over 200,000 African Americans served in the Union army and maintained the lowest percentage of desertion in the military.
The number of African American men serving in the Civil War was equal to about 10% of the total Union army! These brave men proved themselves over and over again in battle. Nearly 40,000 African American men died, of which 30,000 died of disease or infection. Sixteen (16) African American soldiers won the Congressional Medal of Honor for their service during the Civil War. African American soldiers were very important to the Union success of the war.