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By Edwin S. Redkey

The Civil battle stands brilliant within the collective reminiscence of the yankee public. There has constantly been a profound curiosity within the topic, and particularly of Blacks' participation in and reactions to the conflict and the war's end result. nearly 200,000 African-American squaddies fought for the Union within the Civil battle. even though such a lot have been illiterate ex-slaves, a number of thousand have been good knowledgeable, unfastened black males from the northern states. The 129 letters during this assortment have been written through black squaddies within the Union military throughout the Civil struggle to black and abolitionist newspapers. they supply a different expression of the black voice that was once intended for a public discussion board. The letters inform of the men's reviews, their fears, and their hopes. They describe intimately their military days--the pleasure of strive against and the drudgery of digging trenches. a few letters provide shiny descriptions of conflict; others protest racism; nonetheless others name eloquently for civil rights. Many describe their conviction that they're combating not just to unfastened the slaves yet to earn equivalent rights as electorate. those letters provide a unprecedented photograph of the struggle and likewise demonstrate the brilliant expectancies, hopes, and finally the calls for that black squaddies had for the future--for themselves and for his or her race. As first-person files of the Civil conflict, the letters are powerful statements of the yank dream of justice and equality, and of the human spirit.

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Additional info for A Grand Army of Black Men: Letters from African-American Soldiers in the Union Army 1861-1865

Example text

When his unit reached Washington that night, it camped in the Capitol itself, and it was reported that President Abraham Lincoln came in person to thank the men for io A Grand Army of Black Men their help, and especially to console Biddle, one of the first soldiers to shed his blood for the Union. 1 There would be another year and a half of hard fighting before the Union would begin systematically to enlist African Americans into the army. But from the very start of the Civil War, many blacks wanted to help preserve the Union, hit at slavery, and prove that they deserved full citizenship.

1 iPM Two thousand rebels have unconditionally surrendered. It is the end of one of the bloodiest battles of the campaign. Our victory has indeed been brilliant, but we have paid dearly for it. Our loss is about thirty killed, among whom is a Colonel and a Lieutenant-Colonel, and a number of line officers. We have in the hospital between 75 and 80 wounded; they are all doing well. The enemy's loss I have not ascertained, but it has been considerable. I counted ten dead in one battery, myself. O.

They say we will not fight. I want to see it tried on. You are the one to me of all others, to demonstrate this fact. I belong to company G, 95th Regiment Illinois volunteers Captain Eliot N. Bush - a Christian and a gentleman. . 5. Lincoln advocated settling free blacks outside the United States. In 1863 he tried to set up a colony of African Americans on Ile-a-Vache, near Haiti; the colony quickly failed. South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida S E R G E A N T R O B E R T J. S I M M O N S of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry collapsed with fatigue onto the sand of Morris Island, South Carolina.

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