By the end of the Civil War, roughly 179,000 black men (10% of the Union Army) served as soldiers in the U.S. Army and another 19,000 served in the Navy. Nearly 40,000 black soldiers died over the course of the war—30,000 of infection or disease.
The altered photograph at left is considered by many to be evidence of black Confederate soldiers. However, the photograph has been intentionally cropped and mislabeled. The photograph is presented in its original state at right, in which a Union officer is clearly shown. 1,500 free blacks formed the "1st Louisiana Native Guards" in the early days of the war, but they were ordered to disband by the Confederacy in January 1862. Some of the men of the unit later joined the Union Army. This photograph is of a Union U.S.C.T unit.
The University of Virginia
This is not to say that no black man ever fired a gun for the Confederacy. To be specific, in the “Official Records of the War of the Rebellion,” a collection of military records from both sides which spans more than 50 volumes and more than 50,000 pages, there are a total of seven Union eyewitness reports of black Confederates. Three of these reports mention black men shooting at Union soldiers, one report mentions capturing a handful of armed black men along with some soldiers, and the other three reports mention seeing unarmed black laborers. There is no record of Union soldiers encountering an all-black line of battle or anything close to it.
In those same Official Records, no Confederate ever references having black soldiers under his command or in his unit, although references to black laborers are common. The non-existence of black combat units is further indicated by the records of debates in the Confederate Congress over the issue of black enlistment. The idea was repeatedly rejected until, on March 13, 1865, the Confederate Congress passed a law to allow black men to serve in combat roles, although with the provision “that nothing in this act shall be construed to authorize a change in the relation which the said slaves shall bear toward their owners,” i.e. that black soldiers would still be slaves.
Robert Toombs was the Confederacy's first Secretary of State and a general in Robert E. Lee's army. His response to the decision to enlist black soldiers in the Confederate Army appeared in a June 1865 edition of the Augusta Chronicle.
Active fighting ended less than three weeks after the law was passed, and there is no evidence that any black units were accepted into the Confederate Army as a result of the law. Whatever black combat service might have occurred during the war, it was not sanctioned by the Confederate government. Even beyond the Official Records, there is no known letter, diary entry, or any other primary source in which a Confederate mentions serving with black soldiers.
Civil War Soldiers To Free American Citizens
Civil War Soldiers To Free American Citizens To Buffalo Soldiers
Buffalo soldiers were African American soldiers who mainly served on the Western frontier following the American Civil War. In 1866, six all-black cavalry and infantry regiments were created after Congress passed the Army Organization Act. Their main tasks were to help control the Native Americans of the Plains, capture cattle rustlers and thieves and protect settlers, stagecoaches, wagon trains and railroad crews along the Western front.
No one knows for certain why, but the soldiers of the all-black 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments were dubbed “buffalo soldiers” by the Native Americans they encountered.
One theory claims the nickname arose because the soldiers’ dark, curly hair resembled the fur of a buffalo. Another assumption is the soldiers fought so valiantly and fiercely that the Indians revered them as they did the mighty buffalo.
Whatever the reason, the name stuck, and African American regiments formed in 1866, including the 24th and 25th Infantry (which were consolidated from four regiments) became known as buffalo soldiers.
The mustering of the 9th Cavalry took place in New Orleans, Louisiana, in August and September of 1866. The soldiers spent the winter organizing and training until they were ordered to San Antonio, Texas, in April 1867. There they were joined by most of their officers and their commanding officer, Colonel Edward Hatch.
Training the inexperienced and mostly uneducated soldiers of the 9th Calvary was a challenging task. But the regiment was willing, able and mostly ready to face anything when they were ordered to the unsettled landscape of West Texas.
The soldiers’ main mission was to secure the road from San Antonio to El Paso and restore and maintain order in areas disrupted by Native Americans, many of whom were frustrated with life on Indian reservations and broken promises by the federal government. The black soldiers, facing their own forms of discrimination from the U.S. government, were tasked with removing another minority group in that government’s name.
The 10th Cavalry was based in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and commanded by Colonel Benjamin Grierson. Mustering was slow, partly because the colonel wanted more educated men in the regiment and partly because of a cholera outbreak in the summer of 1867.
In August 1867, the regiment was ordered to Fort Riley, Kansas, with the task of protecting the Pacific Railroad, which was under construction at the time.
Before they left Fort Leavenworth, some troops fought hundreds of Cheyenne in two separate battles near the Saline River. With the support of the 38th Infantry Regiment—which was later consolidated into the 24th Infantry Regiment—the 10th Cavalry pushed back the hostile Indians.
The cavalry lost just one man and several horses despite having inferior equipment and being greatly outnumbered. It was just one of many battles to come.
For instance, the 9th Cavalry was critical to the success of a three-month, unremitting campaign known as the Red River War against the Kiowas, the Comanches, the Cheyenne and the Arapahoe. It was after this battle that the 10th Cavalry was sent to join them in Texas.
Troops H and I of the 10th Cavalry were part of a team that rescued wounded Lieutenant-Colonel George Alexander Forsyth and what remained of his group of scouts trapped on a sand bar and surrounded by Indians in the Arikaree River. A couple weeks later, the same troops engaged hundreds of Indians at Beaver Creek and fought so gallantly they were thanked in a field order by General Philip Sheridan.
By 1880, the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments had minimized Indian resistance in Texas and the 9th Cavalry was ordered to Indian Territory in modern-day Oklahoma, ironically to prevent white settlers from illegally settling on Indian land. The 10th Cavalry continued to keep the Apache in check until the early 1890s when they relocated to Montana to round up the Cree.
About 20 percent of U.S. Cavalry troops that participated in the Indian Wars were buffalo soldiers, who participated in at least 177 conflicts.
Buffalo soldiers didn’t only battle unfriendly Indians. They also fought wildfires and poachers in Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks and supported the parks’ infrastructure.
Even facing blatant racism and enduring brutal weather conditions, buffalo soldiers earned a reputation for serving courageously. They fought heroically in the Battle of San Juan Hill, the Battle of El Caney and the Battle of Las Guasimas.
The 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments served in the Philippines in the early 1900s. Despite proving their military worth time and again, they continued to experience racial discrimination. During World War I, they were mostly relegated to defending the Mexican border.
Both regiments were integrated into the 2nd Cavalry Division in 1940. They trained for overseas deployment and combat during World War II. The 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments were deactivated in May 1944.
Mark Matthews, the nation’s oldest living buffalo soldier, died in 2005 at age 111 in Washington, D.C.
Buffalo soldiers had the lowest military desertion and court-martial rates of their time. Many won the Congressional Medal of Honor, an award presented in recognition of combat valor that goes above and beyond the call of duty.
Today, visitors can attend the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum in Houston, Texas, a museum dedicated to the history of their military service. Bob Marley and The Wailers immortalized the group in the reggae song “Buffalo Soldier,” which highlighted the irony of former slaves and their descendants “stolen from Africa” taking land from Native Americans for white settlers.
9th Cavalry Regiment. 1st Cavalry Division Association.
Who Are The Buffalo Soldiers? Buffalo Soldier Museum.
9th Cavalry Regiment (1866-1944). Blackpast.org.
10th Cavalry Regiment (1866-1944). Blackpast.org.
Buffalo Soldiers. National Park Service.
Buffalo Soldiers and the Spanish-American War. National Park Service.
Exploring the Life and History of the “Buffalo Soldiers.” National Archives.
Ninth United States Cavalry. Texas State Historical Association.
The Ninth Regiment of Cavalry. U.S. Army Center of Military History.
The Tenth Regiment of Cavalry. U.S. Army Center of Military History.
World War I and the Buffalo Soldiers. National Park Service.
By the time of the armistice with Germany on November 11, 1918, over 350,000 African Americans had served with the American Expeditionary Force on the Western Front. Most African-American units were largely relegated to support roles and did not see combat.
By Mike Glenn - The Washington Times - Saturday, January 18, 2020
One of the first U.S. heroes of World War II will be the namesake of one of America’s latest nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.
On Monday, the Navy is expected to formally announce its decision to name a Ford-class aircraft carrier after Mess Attendant 2nd Class Doris “Dorie” Miller. He will be the first African-American to have an aircraft carrier named in his honor.
Petty Officer Miller also was the first African-American to receive the Navy Cross, second only to the Medal of Honor, for his heroic actions during the Dec. 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor while he was assigned to the U.S.S. West Virginia, a battleship.
According to the Navy’s official account, Petty Officer Miller, then 22, was collecting laundry that morning when the general quarters alarm sounded. He ran to his assigned battle station, an anti-aircraft gun ammunition magazine, only to discover it had been destroyed by a Japanese torpedo.
He began assisting his wounded shipmates when an officer told him to go to the bridge where the captain had been seriously wounded. Petty Officer Miller pulled the captain to safety while under fire then immediately ran to a nearby .50 caliber machine gun. Although not formally trained on the weapon, he was a quick study.
He kept shooting until he heard the signal to abandon the now-sinking battleship.
Aircraft Carriers are usually named after Admirals and Presidents. Not after Mess Attendants 2nd Class. But a Hero is a Hero regardless of Rank or Race. But an American Hero makes you a little bit extra special. Dorie Miller is an American Hero and a PROVIDER OF PEACE.
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