compiled by Dee Finney


Confederate States



John Brown's body lies a-mold'ring in the grave
John Brown's body lies a-mold'ring in the grave
John Brown's body lies a-mold'ring in the grave
His soul goes marching on

Glory, Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory, Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory, Glory! Hallelujah!
His soul is marching on

He captured Harper's Ferry with his nineteen men so true
He frightened old Virginia till she trembled
     through and through
They hung him for a traitor, themselves the traitor crew
His soul is marching on

Glory, Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory, Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory, Glory! Hallelujah!

His soul is marching on
John Brown died that the slave might be free,
John Brown died that the slave might be free,
John Brown died that the slave might be free,
But his soul is marching on!

Glory, Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory, Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory, Glory! Hallelujah!
His soul is marching on

The stars above in Heaven are looking kindly down
The stars above in Heaven are looking kindly down
The stars above in Heaven are looking kindly down
On the grave of old John Brown

Glory, Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory, Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory, Glory! Hallelujah!
His soul is marching on



1619-1860 Slavery

Africans are enslaved and brought to the Americas.

Escaped slaves join indian tribes fighting to save their land.

Slave revolts dot history, both before and after the American Revolution.

Some Black slaves in the South fight on the British side in return for promises of freedom.
Some "free" Blacks in the North fight on the side of the Revolution in the expectation that slavery will be abolished in the new nation.

After the Revolution, slavery is not abolished but rather included in the Constitution.

African slave trade is officially banned, but covertly continued.

A political anti-slavery movement takes form in the North.

Underground railroad helps slaves escape to free states and Canada.

1860-1865 Civil War

Fearing that Lincoln will restrict slavery, 11 Southern states try to secede from the Union in order to maintain slavery as the "Southern way of life."

Determined to preserve the union, Northerners oppose the Southern rebellion. Many are determined to defeat slavery, others fight to protect economic interests that secession threatens.

180,000 Northern Blacks and freed slaves join the Union army.
Blacks serve in segregated units with white officers and lower pay.

In 1863 Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation ending slavery (eventually).


On November 6, 1860 Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States -- an event that outraged southern states. The Republican party had run on an anti-slavery platform, and many southerners felt that there was no longer a place for them in the Union. On December 20, 1860, South Carolina seceded. By Febrary 1, 1861, six more states -- Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas -- had split from the Union. The seceded states created the Confederate States of America and elected Jefferson Davis, a Mississippi Senator, as their provisional president.

In his inaugural address, delivered on March 4, 1861, Lincoln proclaimed that it was his duty to maintain the Union. He also declared that he had no intention of ending slavery where it existed, or of repealing the Fugitive Slave Law -- a position that horrified African Americans and their white allies. Lincoln's statement, however, did not satisfy the Confederacy, and on April 12 they attacked Fort Sumter, a federal stronghold in Charleston, South Carolina. Federal troops returned the fire. The Civil War had begun.

Immediately following the attack, four more states -- Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Tennessee -- severed their ties with the Union. To retain the loyalty of the remaining border states -- Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri -- President Lincoln insisted that the war was not about slavery or black rights; it was a war to preserve the Union. His words were not simply aimed at the loyal southern states, however -- most white northerners were not interested in fighting to free slaves or in giving rights to black people. For this reason, the government turned away African American voluteers who rushed to enlist. Lincoln upheld the laws barring blacks from the army, proving to northern whites that their race privilege would not be threatened.

There was an exception, however. African Americans had been working aboard naval vessels for years, and there was no reason that they should continue. Black sailors were therefore accepted into the U.S. Navy from the beginning of the war. Still, many African Americans wanted to join the fighting and continued to put pressure on federal authorities. Even if Lincoln was not ready to admit it, blacks knew that this was a war against slavery. Some, however, rejected the idea of fighting to preserve a Union that had rejected them and which did not give them the rights of citizens.

The federal government had a harder time deciding what to do about escaping slaves. Because there was no consistent federal policy regarding fugitives, individual commanders made their own decisions. Some put them to work for the Union forces; others wanted to return them to their owners. Finally, on August 6, 1861, fugitive slaves were declared to be "contraband of war" if their labor had been used to aid the Confederacy in any way. And if found to be contraband, they were declared free.

As the northern army pushed southward, thousands of fugitives fled across Union lines. Neither the federal authorities nor the army were prepared for the flood of people, and many of the refugees suffered as a result. Though the government attempted to provide them with confiscated land, there was not enough to go around. Many fugitives were put into crowded camps, where starvation and disease led to a high death rate. Northern citizens, black and white alike, stepped in to fill the gap. They organized relief societies and provided aid. They also organized schools to teach the freedmen, women, and children to read and write, thus giving an education to thousands of African Americans throughout the war.

Though "contraband" slaves had been declared free, Lincoln continued to insist that this was a war to save the Union, not to free slaves. But by 1862, Lincoln was considering emancipation as a necessary step toward winning the war. The South was using enslaved people to aid the war effort. Black men and women were forced to build fortifications, work as blacksmiths, nurses, boatmen, and laundresses, and to work in factories, hospitals, and armories. In the meantime, the North was refusing to accept the services of black volunteers and freed slaves, the very people who most wanted to defeat the slaveholders. In addition, several governments in Europe were considering recognizing the Confederacy and intervening against the Union. If Lincoln declared this a war to free the slaves, European public opinion would overwhelmingly back the North.

On July 22, 1862, Lincoln showed a draft of the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation to his cabinet. It proposed to emancipate the slaves in all rebel areas on January 1, 1863. Secretary of State William H. Seward agreed with the proposal, but cautioned Lincoln to wait until the Union had a major victory before formally issuing the proclamation. Lincoln's chance came after the Union victory at the Battle of Antietam in September of 1862. He issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation on September 22. The proclamation warned the Confederate states to surrender by January 1, 1863, or their slaves would be freed.

Some people were critical of the proclamation for only freeing some of the slaves. Others, including Frederick Douglass, were jubilant. Douglass felt that it was the beginning of the end of slavery, and that it would act as a "moral bombshell" to the Confederacy. Yet he and others feared that Lincoln would give in to pressure from northern conservatives, and would fail to keep his promise. Despite the opposition, however, the president remained firm. On January 1, 1863, he issued the final Emancipation Proclamation. With it he officially freed all slaves within the states or parts of states that were in rebellion and not in Union hands. This left one million slaves in Union territory still in bondage.

Throughout the North, African Americans and their white allies were exhuberant. They packed churches and meeting halls and celebrated the news. In the South, most slaves did not hear of the proclamation for months. But the purpose of the Civil War had now changed. The North was not only fighting to preserve the Union, it was fighting to end slavery.

Throughout this time, northern black men had continued to pressure the army to enlist them. A few individual commanders in the field had taken steps to recruit southern African Americans into their forces. But it was only after Lincoln issued the final Emancipation Proclamation that the federal army would officially accept black soldiers into its ranks.

African American men rushed to enlist. This time they were accepted into all-black units. The first of these was the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Colored Regiment, led by white officer Robert Gould Shaw. Their heroism in combat put to rest worries over the willingness of black soldiers to fight. Soon other regiments were being formed, and in May 1863 the War Department established the Bureau of Colored Troops.

Black recruiters, many of them abolitionists such as Frederick Douglass, Henry Highland Garnet, and Mary Ann Shadd Cary, brought in troops from throughout the North. Douglass proclaimed, "I urge you to fly to arms and smite with death the power that would bury the government and your liberty in the same hopeless grave." Others, such as Harriet Tubman, recruited in the South. On March 6, 1863, the Secretary of War was informed that "seven hundred and fifty blacks who were waiting for an opportunity to join the Union Army had been rescued from slavery under the leadership of Harriet Ross Tubman...." By the end of the war more than 186,000 black soldiers had joined the Union army; 93,000 from the Confederate states, 40,000 from the border slave states, and 53,000 from the free states.

Black soldiers faced discrimination as well as segregation. The army was extremely reluctant to commission black officers -- only one hundred gained commissions during the war. African American soldiers were also given substandard supplies and rations. Probably the worst form of discrimination was the pay differential. At the beginning of black enlistment, it was assumed that blacks would be kept out of direct combat, and the men were paid as laborers rather than as soldiers. Black soldiers therefore received $7 per month, plus a $3 clothing allowance, while white soldiers received $13 per month, plus $3.50 for clothes.

Black troops strongly resisted this treatment. The Fifty-Fourth Massachusetts Regiment served a year without pay rather than accept the unfair wages. Many blacks refused to enlist because of the discriminatory pay. Finally, in 1864, the War Department sanctioned equal wages for black soldiers.

In the South, most slaveholders were convinced that their slaves would remain loyal to them. Some did, but the vast majority crossed Union lines as soon as Northern troops entered their vicinity. A Confederate general stated in 1862 that North Carolina was losing approximately a million dollars every week because of the fleeing slaves.

Numbers of white southerners also refused to support the Confederacy. From the beginning, there were factions who vehemently disagreed with secession and remained loyal to the Union. Many poor southern whites became disillusioned during the course of the war. Wealthy planters had been granted exemptions from military service early on. This became especially inflammatory when the South instituted the draft in 1862 and the exemptions remained in place. It became clear to many poor southern whites that the war was being waged by the rich planters and the poor were fighting it. In addition, the common people were hit hard by wartime scarcity. By 1863, there was a food shortage. Riots and strikes occurred as inflation soared and people became desperate.

There were also northerners who resisted the war effort. Some were pacifists. Others were white men who resented the fact that the army was drafting them at the same time it excluded blacks. And there were whites who refused to fight once black soldiers were admitted. The North was also hit by economic depression, and enraged white people rioted against African Americans, who they accused of stealing their jobs.

Finally, on April 18, 1865, the Civil War ended with the surrender of the Confederate army. 617,000 Americans had died in the war, approximately the same number as in all of America's other wars combined. Thousands had been injured. The southern landscape was devastated.


The American Civil War (1861 - 1865) was fought in North America within the United States of America, between twenty-three mostly northern states of the Union and the Confederate States of America, a coalition of eleven southern states that declared their independence and claimed the right of secession from the Union in 1860-1861. The war claimed more American lives than any other conflict in history.
 The causes of the war, and even the name of the war itself, are still debated 
(see the article Naming the American Civil War).

Union Statistics:
2.9 million men served
1.5 million enlisted - 3 years duration

630,000 casualties
360,000 killed in action or died of disease
Confederate Statistics:
1.2 million men served
800,000 enslited – 3 years duration

340,000 casualties
250,000 killed in action or died of disease


United States of America

USA flag 18611863. 34 stars, after the admission of Kansas to the Union

18631864. 35 stars, after the admission of West Virginia.

18641865. 36 stars, after the admission of Nevada.

Confederate States of America

CSA flag to May 1863

May 1863

Briefly from March

compiled by Dee Finney

10-10-05 - DREAM - I was walking down the street in an old town, pushing a baby carriage. I walked past an adobe-type building that was used as a jail. Upstairs, on the roof, I saw a blue uniformed soldier releasing a huge black-skinned prisoner who had been there for years. He had been there so long, he didn't know where anything was or how to find it.

I told them that I would take the black man to Washington D.C.

The black man wanted to go to the Civil War Memorial so he could see what had happened, so when he came outside, he walked respectfully behind me and I took him to the Civil War Memorial.

When we got there, all he wanted to look at was the stamp collection. So I let him go into the stamp collection room and I stayed in the main room with the baby.

The soldier in the blue uniform came through then and a while woman who was the baby's mother and I told them about the black prisoner who only wanted to look at the stamp collection when he got out of jail.



Military Images: Revenue stamps & Civil War photography
Full text of the article, 'Revenue stamps & Civil War photography' from Military Images, a publication in the field of Reference & Education, ... mi_qa3905/is_199905/ai_n8829225

House of Kirk -- Civil War Replicas
Civil War Commemorative Stamps. Set of stamps printed by the US Post Office for the 100th anniversary of the American Civil War. We have framed these with ... 

revenue stamps
CIVIL WAR REVENUE STAMPS:. THE BUTLER & CARPENTER ERA (1862-8) ... Revenue Stamps of Butler & Carpenter · Civil War-era Revenue Documents. Links:. 1˘ Prexie ...

US Currency during the Civil War
... the Civil War era: Private Issue, Shinplasters, Federal Issue and Stamps ... Stamps, however, often became no more than a sticky mess in the pocket, ... newcivilians/articles/lucre.htm
Confederate Stamp Alliance
Confederate Stamp Alliance - the site for stamp collectors of Confederate ... The bitter Civil War spanned the entire life of the Confederacy -- the four ... -

US Army Regulations:link 153 Civil War Photographs
Background of Civil War Photographs. ... During the years 1864-1866 revenue stamps were affixed to the back of the images. Names may have been written on ... -

House of Kirk -- Civil War - Commemorative Stamps
Civil War Commemorative Stamps printed by the US Post Office for the 100th anniversary of the American Civil War. We have framed these with 100 year old ... -

American Civil War Search Directory.
Top \ American Civil War \ Era Materials (Clothing, Stamps, Etc.) ... Description: Large and excellent site concerning Confederate stamps. ... -

Civil War Soldiers
article PDF; Clark, William Allen, "'Please Send Stamps': The Civil War Letters of William Allen Clark" [1 of 4] Clinton County (Rossville) ... -

Revenue Stamps
This information can be useful to determine when an image of a Civil War soldier ... You will find these stamps on Carte-de-Visite, Albumen Prints and all ...

The National Civil War Museum
is located at: 
1 Lincoln Circle at Reservoir Park
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17103
(717) 260-1861

The African American Civil War Memorial
1000 and 1200 U Street
Washington, DC 20002
Telephone (202) 667-2667

Black Soldiers Monument in Elmwood Cemetery
Princess Anne Road - 
Rare monument to African-American soldiers 
who fought in the Civil War memorializes 
black soldiers buried in the West Point section 
of the Elmwood Cemetery. 757-441-2576.

Reporters in war time: 

Before photography was a commercially successful business, publishers would send out staff artists to cover major news events. These artists (like today's journalists) would go to the battlefields and make sketches and drawings to record the drama and action of the Civil War. These sketches and drawings were brought back to the publishers where, under the supervision of the artists, skilled craftsmen and engravers would carve wooden printing blocks from which engravings were printed.



Photos courtesy of

 Every year, African American men dress in the uniforms of the 54th and act out Civil War battles. These often include the victory at Fort Wagner, South Carolina, where the 54th Regiment was first called to fight. This battle was also shown in the movie Glory. Glory helped both white Americans and African Americans learn about the heroes of the 54th Regiment.

About 178,000 Africans fought in the war, and more than 30,000 of them died. One in every four sailors in the Union Navy was African, totaling about 50,000 men.



African American Civil War Memorial Opening Events
The African-American Civil War Memorial will host a concert at the Lincoln Theater
to celebrate the legacy of the 185000 Colored Troops and their white ... - 

Indiana War Memorials
Indiana War Memorial Museum · Civil War Museum ... Vietnam Jungle exhibit,
Our Vietnam War exhibit has doubled in size, with exhibits featuring Jungle ... -

African American Civil War Memorial (National Park Service)
The African-American Civil War Memorial commemorates the military service of
hundreds of thousands of Civil War era African-American soldiers and sailors. ...

Gettysburg National Military Park (National Park Service)
... was the site of the largest battle ever waged during the American Civil War.
... It was also the bloodiest single battle of the war, resulting in over ...

Arlington National Cemetery:: Visitor_Information
The Civil War Memorial, [D]. Marks mass graves of about 2111 unknowns gathered
from US Civil War battlefields. Back to Monuments and Memorials main page ... visitor_information/Civil_War.html -

Memorial Hall Confederate Museum 929 Camp Street New Orleans, LA 70130
Features large collection of Confederate memorabilia exhibits, upcoming events,
newsletter, Civil War artifacts, and contact information. New Orleans, LA. -

Washington, DC > African-American Civil War Memorial in the Yahoo ...
Search: the Web | the Directory | Washington, DC. Washington, DC > African-American
Civil War Memorial. Email this page Suggest a Site Advanced Search ... African_American_Civil_War_Memorial/ 

The Civil War Correspondent Memorial Arch (Gathland Park)
The Civil War Correspondents Memorial Arch. George Alfred Townsend "A MAN AND
HIS MOUNTAIN ". Astride the ridge known as South Mountain, near Burkittsville ... -

Civil War Memorial
Immortal 600 Memorial Fund is dedicated to the memory of the 600 brave ...
chosen group of 600 Confederate officers left Fort Delaware as prisoners of war, ...


Fourteen Black Union soldiers who won the Medal of Honor for a single day's battle action in driving Confederate troops from the Southern capital of Richmond, VA, are in line for an unusual and long overdue remembrance of their heroics.

For more than a century, the bravery of the men has been overlooked, particularly in a state where Confederate descendants still live and respect the role of their Southern warriors.

It has been difficult to muster support for a Black memorial in such an area and historically polarized climate.


One of the fiercest battles of the Civil War was fought in Milliken's Bend, Louisiana between Confederate troops and black regiments of the Union Army. Most of the Colored infantry had minimal training, were outnumbered and ill-equipped. Nevertheless, in close hand-to-hand combat, they routed the "Rebs" and won respect previously denied by both sides of the conflagration.  Black soldiers vindicated Lincoln by defeating  Confederate soldiers at Milliken's Bend, in the critical battle for Vicksburg. Subsequently, most barriers to the enlistment and effective deployment of Colored recruits were eliminated in pursuit of the ultimate Union victory.




World: Americas America's forgotten black heroes

It is a little known fact, even in the United States, that 209,000 black soldiers fought in the American Civil War.

On Saturday, 133 years after the Confederacy was defeated by the Union, a memorial to those black soldiers is being dedicated in Washington.

The essence of the conflict was slavery and the southern states' refusal to accept its abolition, which led to a bloody civil war.

Thousands of runaway slaves, along with many free blacks living in the north, joined the Union army and fought with distinction.

Men such as First Sergeant Powhatan Beattie who, on 29 September 1864, took command of his company in a battle in Virginia and led it "gallantly" after all the officers had been killed.

But although the Union was fighting against slavery it was itself guilty of racism.

Black soldiers were paid less than their white comrades and at the end of the war black veterans were not invited to the victory parade.

Robert Young, whose ancestor fought in the war, says: "When I grew up studying history there was no mention of black soldiers at all.

"The memorial, to me, represents the beginning of a broader education for America and everyone to know that as a population of slaves they were willing to fight for their own freedom."

In recent years attempts to combat this ignorance have been boosted by literature and films such as Glory, starring Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman.
[ image: Morgan Freeman as a volunteer in the film Glory]
Morgan Freeman as a volunteer in the film Glory
Today six million black Americans could trace back their family trees to Civil War veterans.

But historians and black activists feel it is not only blacks but whites too who would benefit from learning about their debt to the soldiers.

Carol Hector Harris, another descendant, says: "America itself needs to know about that history and not overlook that history because this country would not be where it is today if these men had not fought."

The vast majority fought for the Union but a smaller number were persuaded by their slave masters to "defend the Confederacy against invasion by the fanatical invader".

Thousands of slaves were also forced to build fortifications, thus freeing white soldiers for the Confederate cause.


Civil War hero finally saluted

Soldier from Cincinnati among blacks honored

By Kimball Perry, Post staff reporter

A Cincinnati hero who played a prominent role in a proud history will be among 200,000 black Union soldiers saluted today with the dedication of a new Civil War memorial in Arlington, Va.

Powhatan Beaty was one of 14 blacks to earn the highest achievement in the military when he won the Congressional Medal of Honor for valor during the Civil War.

About 1,200 Medals of Honor total were awarded for the first time to soldiers in the Civil War.

''The blacks in the Civil War are my heroes. Think of what would have happened if the Union would have lost,'' said Harold Johnson, a Cincinnatian who served in the U.S. Navy during World War II from 1942-1946. Johnson also is past president of the Cincinnati chapter of the NAACP.

The $2.6 million monument, which also recognizes 7,000 white officers, pays tribute to those who were part of the U.S. Colored Troops in the Civil War.

Its dedication comes on the 50th anniversary of President Harry Truman's executive order establishing equal treatment for all soldiers regardless of race.

Beaty was born in Richmond, Va., in 1837 but moved to Cincinnati in 1849. At age 24, he enlisted in Company G, 5th U.S. Colored Infantry.

On Sept. 29, 1864, First Sgt. Beaty was fighting the Confederacy at Chaffin's Farm, Va.

As the company was retreating, the unit's color-bearer was killed. Beaty returned about 600 feet through enemy fire to pick up the flag and, with his white officers killed in the fighting, assumed command of what was left of the company. He helped lead his unit to victory despite severe casualties.

''In a number of those units, a number of white officers were killed,'' Johnson said. ''The black (enlisted men) took over and won the battle.''

Beaty also left a personal legacy. His son, A. Lee Beaty, was a two-time Ohio Legislator and the first black assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio.

Those war stories are memorable to Johnson, but to too few others, especially blacks.

He hopes the African-American Civil War Memorial near Washington, D.C., which will list the names of every person to have served in the United States Colored Troops, changes that.

''Initially, the armed forces were segregated and blacks in the Navy with few exceptions were restricted to steward's mates - servants for the white officers,'' Johnson said. ''But blacks also have a long tradition in the Navy serving at sea.''

Johnson was among the first group of blacks to train at the Navy Technical School in Hampton, Va.

''Blacks in the service had varying experiences,'' Johnson said. ''I would describe my experience in the Navy as being on a vacation. I left Cincinnati at a time when we couldn't go in public places.

''The military is the most integrated institution in American society with the best record in regard to equal opportunity.''

Also to be honored at the memorial are the black soldiers and their white commanders of the 54th Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, who led the doomed assault on Fort Wagner in South Carolina.

Their story was told in the movie ''Glory.''

More than 37,000 black soldiers died in the Civil War; about 4,000 of them are buried at Arlington National Cemetery under stones that bear the initials USCT for ''U.S. Colored Troops.''

The central statue of the new memorial, ''Spirit of Freedom,'' depicts the head of an advancing column of black soldiers.

The surrounding granite walls and metal plaques bearing the names of all black soldiers and sailors of the Civil war era are expected to be in place by Veteran's Day, Nov. 11.

Publication date: 07-18-98


While economic, cultural, and political differences between the North and South all played a role in the Civil War, the underlying cause was slavery. The increasingly violent clashes between North and South over the issue of slavery, such as the bloody altercation at Harpers Ferry, proved that a compromise between the two sides could not be reached.

The raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859, organized by militant abolitionist John Brown, was a precursor to the Civil War. Brown's audacious plan was to raid a federal arsenal and use the arms to lead a slave revolt. His attack on the federal government became his last stand, as Frederick Douglass had prophesied when Brown had asked him to join in. "I told him, and these were my words, that he was going into a perfect steel trap and that once in he would never get out alive."

Brown and his 21 men, five of whom were black, succeeded in capturing the federal armory and arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia (in the part that would become West Virginia). But word of the raid spread fast, and by morning farmers and militia men had descended on the raiders, followed by federal troops. In the bloody battle that followed, ten of Brown's men were killed, and seven were captured to stand trial, including Brown himself, who was later hung. Brown was immediately heralded as a martyr to the abolitionist cause. Throughout the North, thousands flooded churches, meeting halls, and city streets to mourn his death and proclaim him a hero. The song "John Brown's Body" resounded in black churches. Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau eulogized him in verse."



The Civil War laid the freedom issue before black Americans. Most Northern whites thought dying for a cause was their birthright alone. Black Americans knew, as no white could, how costly freedom was. They clamored to join the fight.

The Union Army didn't form black units until 1862. When they did, blacks poured in -- 180,000 of them. By War's end, a tenth of our army was black. Twenty percent of them died -- mostly from disease in their terrible segregated facilities. But they died in combat as well. Twenty-one black soldiers received the Medal of Honor

On July 17, 1862, Congress passed two acts allowing the enlistment of African Americans, but official enrollment occurred only after the September, 1862 issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation. In general, white soldiers and officers believed that black men lacked the courage to fight and fight well. In October, 1862, African American soldiers of the 1st Kansas Colored Volunteers silenced their critics by repulsing attacking Confederates at the battle of Island Mound, Missouri. By August, 1863, 14 Negro Regiments were in the field and ready for service. At the battle of Port Hudson, Louisiana, May 27, 1863, the African American soldiers bravely advanced over open ground in the face of deadly artillery fire. Although the attack failed, the black soldiers proved their capability to withstand the heat of battle.

On July 17, 1863, at Honey Springs, Indian Territory, now Oklahoma, the 1st Kansas Colored fought with courage again. Union troops under General James Blunt ran into a strong Confederate force under General Douglas Cooper. After a two-hour bloody engagement, Cooper's soldiers retreated. The 1st Kansas, which had held the center of the Union line, advanced to within fifty paces of the Confederate line and exchanged fire for some twenty minutes until the Confederates broke and ran. General Blunt wrote after the battle, "I never saw such fighting as was done by the Negro regiment....The question that negroes will fight is settled; besides they make better solders in every respect than any troops I have ever had under my command."

The most widely known battle fought by African Americans was the assault on Fort Wagner, South Carolina, by the 54th Massachusetts on July 18, 1863. The 54th volunteered to lead the assault on the strongly-fortified Confederate positions. The soldiers of the 54th scaled the fort's parapet, and were only driven back after brutal hand-to-hand combat.


Black women helped too: 

By Mary Lynn Bushong   

      While many people loyal to the Union lived in the South, no group was more supportive of the Union than the African slaves. They did not just spy, providing information on plans and troop movements, they also fought for the freedom they earnestly desired.
     One of the most effective ways of helping the Union was through spying. One of the first spies was George Scott. He was a runaway slave with information about new fortifications near the mouth of the James River. Bad tactics on the side of the Union, not poor information, caused an attack there to fail.
     One of the best men who spied for the Union was John Scobell. He'd been a slave before the war but was freed before it began. Recruited by Allen Pinkerton, the spy master for General George McClellan, he would often slip into Virginia and speak to slaves or leaders among the black community. They would provide information about troop movements and supplies.

Mary Touvestre, a freed slave, worked as a housekeeper for an engineer involved in the rebuilding of the ironclad ship, Merrimac. After stealing a set of plans, she rushed to Washington where she met with men from the Union navy. It was because of her information that the construction of the Monitor (Union ironclad) was rushed forward. Without her information, the Merrimac could have gone unchallenged for weeks.
   Two agents for the Union worked in the Confederate Whitehouse. One was William A. Jackson, a coachman. His ability to remember details of President Davis's discussions with his advisors was a great asset. Another agent named Mary E. Bowser was an educated, freed slave. She concealed her educated status while working as a servant so she could blend in. Her photographic memory allowed her to pass along the information she found in Davis's papers.
    Harriet Tubman, one of the leaders of the Underground Railroad, was also a spy during the Civil War. In 1863, she began taking short trips to the Confederate states (where there was a price on her head) to spy on enemy forces. One time she led a Union force of 150 men up the Combehee River in South Carolina where they surprised a Confederate camp. They destroyed a huge cache of supplies and brought out over 800 slaves.



One soldier, an escaped slave from Kentucky, said, "When I donned my Union blues, I felt freedom in my bones." Yet the change from slave to free wasn't always immediate. A white commander of a black unit talked about getting rid of "plantation manners" -- hat in hand, with eyes averted.

Maybe black soldiers had learned plantation manners under the whip. But they'd also honed a finely tempered inner core. One surprised officer said of his troops: "They were [so] cool and wary [in combat. You'd think] wild turkeys were the only game."

Northern draft rioters lynched blacks. Southern troops shot black prisoners. Black soldiers got less pay. They were shunted off to labor details. The movie Glory showed how they marched to a hero's slaughter at Fort Wagner. That happened again at Port Hudson and Petersburg. They triumphed in the Battles of Millikan's Bend and New Market Heights.

So the Civil War ended. White America soon forgot black heroism. Yet something was left. War is ghastly and questionable. But it's also a great proving ground of the human heart. 140,000 surviving blacks had faced that cold moment, and they had not found themselves wanting.

140,000 men had gained what each of us must eventually gain. They'd found the knowledge of their own inner capacity that each of us must find -- one way or another -- before we can be whole.

by John Lienhard, University of Houston



The Civil War Ended Slavery only in the South - not the North

The enslavement of African Americans in what became the United States formally began during the 1630s and l64Os. At that time colonial courts and legislatures made clear that Africans--unlike white indentured servants--served their masters for life and that their slave status would be inherited by their children. Slavery in the United States ended in the mid-1860s. Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation of January 1863 was a masterful propaganda tactic, but in truth, it proclaimed free only those slaves outside the control of the Federal government--that is, only those in areas still controlled by the Confederacy. The legal end to slavery in the nation came in December 1865 when the Thirteenth Amendment was ratified, it declared:   "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."



On a torrid July day in 1863, there was a funeral in New Orleans that put the city on the front page of newspapers across the United States. It was a funeral with all the trimmings—a marching band playing solemn airs, a horse-drawn caisson with drapes and tassels, an eloquent eulogy. Thousands of people lined the downtown streets for a mile, mostly black, many of them wearing crepe rosettes and holding tiny American flags. "Unprecedentedly large," The Daily Picayune pronounced the turnout.

The man buried that day in square 3 of St. Louis Cemetery No. 2 was Andre Cailloux, the first black hero of the Civil War.

For four days before the funeral, his body had lain in state at the hall of the Friends of Order, the coffin covered with a flag, surrounded by candles and flowers, protected by a guard who paced to and fro.

For 41 days before that, however, his body had lain on the battlefield at Port Gibson, Miss., rotting and swelling in the sun like the other black dead. Only the ring Cailloux wore with the insignia of the Friends of order assure his identity. It was on that battlefield that he had fallen, a captain leading his company in a desperate charge against Confederate soldiers who were sitting in rifle nests on a bluff 300 feet over their heads.

The first shot he took was just above his left elbow. But he carried on, his arm dangling at his side.

"En avant, mes enfants! Follow me!" he had exhorted his men as he led them out of the woods and into the battle. The second shot he took did him in.

The soldiers he led were in Company E of the First Louisiana native Guards and the rout at Port Gibson marked the first time black troops had fought in the Civil War. Their courage was well-noted because it put to rest the prediction that black soldiers would never fight bravely. Cailloux, a free black man from New Orleans, was 38 when he died.



After years of research by the staff at Chippiannock Cemetery and The Rock Island Argus and The Dispatch, these long-forgotten heroes again will be remembered.

The research produced enough information on these men to have the Department of Veterans Affairs provide military headstones for seven of the nine Civil War veterans.

A February 1879 Act of Congress extended the privilege of government-provided headstones to soldiers buried in private cemeteries. All nine will be honored in a special memorial ceremony, titled Black Heroes Carved in Stone,



The third cluster of Stonington, CT men was in Company H of the Twenty-Sixth regiment, different from the others in that its members signed on for only nine months and participated in only one major action. The Mystic Pioneer printed letters from a soldier in the Twenty-Sixth who signed himself only "G." After sailing down the coast and through the Gulf, his troopship anchored at New Orleans and he reported: "It was cheering to see the welcome we received from both white and black. The negroes seemed as if they could hardly find ways enough to evince their delight. It was quite laughable to see them run down to the bank as they see us coming and take off their hats and make a low bow. The women would take off their aprons and wave them till we got out of sight. Nor was this greeting confined to the blacks, for very often the planters with their wives and daughters would come down on the bank and cheer us by waving their handkerchiefs."

But grimmer work was ahead. The Connecticut troops camped briefly in Lafayette Square, New Orleans, before moving to a camp up river, then joined in the siege of the Confederate bastion at Port Hudson, which blocked Union access up and down the Mississippi. In this prolonged action, small Confederate forces inside fortifications inflicted huge losses on attacking Union troops. The casualties in the two Stonington companies were severe. The Twenty-Sixth Regiment suffered greater losses than any other unit in that action, 304 casualties altogether, more than a third of them during an ill-starred charge across an open field on May 27, 1863. Among the wounded was a Private Babcock of Stonington--I'm not sure which Babcock, there were two in the company. He was, in the historians' words, "shot through the body, and surgeons asserted positively that he must die. The prospect was doubtless rendered less bitter to him by the reflection that he had used the large bounty he had received to pay off the remainder of the debt upon his mother's house. He recovered and returned home." After Port Hudson surrendered on July 8, the Twenty-Sixth returned via steamer to a gala welcome at Norwich and was mustered out.



Siege of Port Hudson: May-July 1863 :
      Siege of Port Hudson, Louisiana (LA010) , East Baton Rouge and East Feliciana Parishes, May 22-July 9, 1863

Control of the Mississippi River was one of the key objectives of the Union strategists at the beginning of the Civil War. In August 1862 forces under CS Major General John C. Breckinridge, a former vice president of the United States, occupied Port Hudson and began constructing a bastion as formidable as that at Vicksburg.

The terrain immediately surrounding Port Hudson is varied. The Mississippi River, which has eroded the Citadel—a three-sided redoubt that anchored the Confederates' downriver defenses—skirts the southwestern corner of the battlefield. A broad alluvial plain, where the river flowed in 1863, extends westward from the bluff. On the north and northeast the terrain is virtually impassable. Canyon-like ravines, sixty-to eighty-foot bluffs, and dense woods stretch to Foster Creek and beyond. The plateau on the east is grazing land. A mile and a half below Port Hudson, a massive ravine bounds the plateau on the south.

In the spring of 1863 USN Rear Admiral David Glasgow Farragut attempted to force the evacuation of Port Hudson by cutting off the food supplies it received down the Red and Mississippi Rivers. Of his seven vessels that attempted to pass the batteries on the night of March 14, only two, including the flagship Hartford, succeeded. These two vessels proved insufficient to halt the flow of supplies to Port Hudson.

In late March US Major General Nathaniel P. Banks had concentrated his troops west of the Mississippi. His XIX Corps moved up Bayou Teche and seized Alexandria on the Red River. This severed Port Hudson's supply line with the Confederate Trans-Mississippi Department west of the Mississippi, but the Confederates continued to garrison Port Hudson.

In mid-May Banks moved down the Red River to attack Port Hudson from the north. Additional Union columns moved north from Baton Rouge and New Orleans to attack from the south and east. When Banks closed the noose on Port Hudson on May 22, his 30,000 soldiers, supported by U.S. Navy vessels both upstream and downstream from the town, faced 7,500 Confederates behind four and a half miles of earthworks.

On the morning of May 27 Banks ordered a simultaneous assault all along the line, but the difficult terrain, vague orders, and uncooperative subordinates prevented a coordinated effort. The Confederates on the north side of Port Hudson, aided by reinforcements drawn from other portions of their line, managed to repulse several assaults against Commissary Hill, Fort Desperate, and along the Telegraph Road. Except for scattered musketry and artillery fire, the fighting along the north front ended before the remainder of Banks's army advanced from the east. The delay allowed the Confederates to redeploy men to repulse the Federal assaults across Slaughter's Field and against the Priest Cap.

That evening the Confederate lines remained unbreached. The terrain contributed to this unexpected turn of events because the thickly wooded ravines on the Union right separated enlisted men from their regimental officers and prevented any organized Federal effort. A withering fire covered the fields in front of the Confederate center and right so that Union soldiers were unable to reach the earthworks. Union losses were 2,000 killed or wounded; Confederate casualties were fewer than 500.

Several hundred of the Federal casualties were black soldiers. These included men of the 1st and 3rd Louisiana Native Guards. The 1st Louisiana Native Guards and a majority of its line officers consisted almost entirely of free blacks from New Orleans. Because of their education, wealth, and status in the community, these men were able to field an all-black unit in the antebellum Louisiana state militia. In the spring of 1862, when the Confederate government refused to arm the regiment, its members offered to fight for the United States.

During the siege of Port Hudson, the Native Guards units were redesignated. The 1st became the First Corps de Afrique; this designation was changed again in April 1864, when it became the 73rd United States Colored Troops. The 3rd Louisiana Native Guards, organized by the government in 1862, was composed of former slaves commanded by white officers. It too was twice redesignated during the war.

In the May 27 assault the 1st and 3rd Louisiana Native Guards advanced across open ground against the strongly fortified position of the 39th Mississippi. US Captain André Cailloux, a free black from New Orleans, led the advance, shouting orders in both English and French until a shell struck him dead. Other black troops waded through the backwater of the Mississippi to engage the enemy. Although repulsed with heavy casualties, the soldiers demonstrated both their willingness and their ability to fight for the Union and for abolition.

Having committed himself, Banks commenced siege operations and ordered sharpshooters and round-the-clock artillery fire. On June 13, after receiving reinforcements and additional cannons, Union gunners opened a tremendous one-hour bombardment. Banks then demanded that the garrison surrender. New York-born CS Major General Franklin Gardner replied, "My duty requires me to defend this position, and therefore I decline to surrender." Banks resumed the bombardment and ordered a full-scale assault the next day.

An entire division, commanded by US Brigadier General Halbert E. Paine and supported by diversionary attacks on the right by US Brigadier General Godfrey Weitzel and on the left by US Brigadier General William Dwight, advanced toward the Priest Cap at about 4:00 a.m. on June 14. A few of the Federals managed to enter the works, but the breach was quickly sealed. By 10:00 a.m. the assault had failed and the Union had suffered 1,805 more casualties.

Banks spent the remainder of June and early July digging approach saps (trenches) and advancing his artillery. Although reduced to eating rats and mules, the Confederates were still holding out on July 7, after forty-six days of siege. When Gardner received word that Vicksburg had surrendered on July 4, however, he negotiated surrender terms. Without its counterpart up the Mississippi, Port Hudson lacked strategic significance.

On July 9 the Confederate garrison grounded arms. The longest true siege in American military history had ended. At Port Hudson about 7,500 Confederates had tied up more than 40,000 Union soldiers for nearly two months. Confederate casualties included 750 killed and wounded and 250 dead of disease. The Federals took 6,500 prisoners, but their own losses were nearly 10,000, almost evenly divided between battle casualties and disease, including sunstroke.

Estimated Casualties: 10,000 US, 7,500 CS



Information and lyrics from
Best Loved Songs of the American People
See Bibliography for full information.