American Civil War in the News is a edited review of American Civil War related news and articles, providing collection of hand-picked 1861-1865 era history.

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Black - Coloured troops - American Civil War

Latest hand-picked Civil War news and articles.

Union County to build memorial for 10 black men who served in Confederate Army
Long ignored by history, local slaves who served in the Confederate Army will receive some rare recognition. The Union County Historic Preservation Commission voted unanimously to approve a plan for a privately funded marker to honor 10 black men, nine of whom were slaves, who eventually received small state pensions for their Civil War service. It will be one of the few public markers of its kind in the country, and arrives in the midst of commemorations of the Civil War`s sesquicentennial. The granite marker will be placed on a brick walkway at the Old County Courthouse in Monroe in front of the 1910 Confederate monument.

Myth: The black soldiers fought for the South - In reality the Confederacy prevented arming the blacks
Popular Civil War myth claims that 10,000 Southern blacks served voluntarily as combatants. In reality Confederate authorities from Jefferson Davis to John Beauchamp denied having black men in arms, fearing it would "disgust the whole South."

Men of Color to Arms!: Black Soldiers, Indian Wars, and the Quest for Equality by Elizabeth D. Leonard
"Buffalo Soldiers" were black men who enlisted in the U.S. Army and patrolled the Old West in search of hostile Indians. A TNT mini-series, quite a few articles and other hard copy have been published, but Elizabeth D. Leonard's "Men of Color to Arms!" is a good overview, covering the rise of the black soldiers movement in both the North, and belatedly in the Confederacy. She tells the story of individuals like Christian A. Fleetwood (Medal of Honor winner), and regiments such as the U.S. Colored Troops. After the civil war, many black men who had tasted army life decided it was a better option than attempting to eke out a living.

Benjamin F. Butler created 1864 medal for black troops
Although the U.S. military has awarded medals for bravery in the 19th century there was only one medal struck as an award to a body of troops for a particular battle. The 1864 "Colored Troops before Richmond" medal - a reminder of the bravery of black troops in the Union Army. The general in charge of the black troops in Virginia in 1984 was Benjamin F. Butler - known as "Beast" Butler because of his harsh military rule in New Orleans in 1862. Butler was so impressed with his black regiments that he set out to have a medal struck in honor of those whose feats went well beyond the call of duty.

Black spies infiltrated staff of Confederate president Jefferson Davis
When Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy during the Civil War, realised somebody on his staff was leaking information to the Union, the last person he thought of was the nanny, Mary Elizabeth Bowser. He thought she was only an illiterate slave. "Wrong Jeff, she was a school teacher from Philadelphia," said Hari Jones, curator of the African American Civil War Memorial Museum in Washington, adding that: "African American spies in the Civil War were critical to the Union effort." Called the Lincoln's Loyal Legal League, a network of African American spies used their own form of communication to weaken the Confederate effort and pass on information to the Northern states.

Research on Black Soldiers rewrote history - Black soldiers in white regiments
Juanita Patience Moss was dismayed to learn that her great-grandfather would not be included among the 200,000 black soldiers honored at the African American Civil War Memorial, which names only those who served with the U.S. Colored Troops. The historians she faced agreed that black soldiers were not allowed in white regiments. That is, until Moss showed them her great-grandfather's military records. "I looked at each of their faces, and I knew that this was brand-new information," said Moss, who will publish a revised edition of her book "The Forgotten Black Soldiers in White Regiments During the Civil War."

Pictorial record of sites where black troops fought
In the first months of the Civil War, blacks who attempted to enlist in the Union Army were turned away. Undiscouraged, they continued to practice. Their hope came true on January 1, 1863, when Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, and over 180,000 African American soldiers fought in 175 regiments, accounting for 10% of all Union troops. In 1995 photographer William Earle Williams began to create a pictorial record of important sites where black troops fought. Exhibition "Unsung Heroes: African American Soldiers in the Civil War" at Houston's MFA presents a selection of prints.

Black Southerners in Confederate gray - Why haven't we heard more about them?
February marks the beginning of Black History Month. One area that has been over-looked was that of black Southerners who fought for the Confederacy. Ed Bearss, National Park Service Historian Emeritus, stated: "I don't want to call it a conspiracy to ignore the role of Blacks, both above and below the Mason-Dixon line, but it was definitely a tendency that began around 1910." Historian Erwin L. Jordan, Jr., calls it a cover-up which started in 1865: "During my research on pension applications, I came across instances where black men stated they were soldiers, but you can plainly see where ‘soldier` is crossed out and ‘body servant` or ‘teamster` inserted."

State still has Civil War medals for 200 in black Union companies
7 months after the Civil War ended and one week before the 13th Amendment made slavery unconstitutional, two West Virginia companies of an all-black Union Army regiment gathered to get their final pay and discharge papers. The date was Dec. 13, 1865, and the place was Camp Cadwalader where the men of the 45th U.S. Colored Infantry began their basic training in June 1864. The discharge at Camp Cadwalader ended an 18-month tour of duty that took the men of the 45th, one of 170 African-American military units formed near the end of the Civil War, from trenches facing the Confederate capital of Richmond to the Mexican frontier.

Black Confederate H.K. Edgerton says he is marching for heritage
It`s a sight that elicits a second glance. A black man marching along the S.C. 28 toward Walhalla dressed in Confederate butternut, carrying a Confederate battle flag. To H.K. Edgerton it`s a march for truth in history as critical as any march for civil rights. His march carried him to Oconee County. When it comes to the role of blacks in the Confederacy, he is less than happy about the story. "This flag has nothing to do with hate. It`s the flag of Southern heritage, black and white," Edgerton said of the starred red, white and blue St. Andrew`s Cross battle flag he carried.

1st Kansas Colored Infantry regiment which beat Confederates saluted
Union officer and Kansas Sen. Jim Lane came up with the idea of forming a fighting unit of runaway slaves in 1862. "Even President Abraham Lincoln thought it was a bad idea. Nobody knew what would happen to these guys in battle. Would they run? Could they learn complicated close order drills?" said Bruce Fisher, Oklahoma Historical Society staff member. Captain James M. Williams was appointed to organize an infantry regiment of blacks. They defeated 500 attacking Confederates in 1862 at a camp near Butler, Mo - and as a result they were organized as the 1st Kansas (Colored) Volunteer Infantry Regiment under then Colonel Williams.

1st Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry faced adversity on battlefield
A blue regimental flag adorned with gold lettering and eagle holds a lot of history in its many threads. It's one of relics left from the 1st Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry. "We credit them of being the first African-American regiment raised in the Northern States," said Blair Tarr, curator for the Kansas State Historical Society. The Civil War Infantry was formed in July-August of 1862, organized by Kansas senator James Lane. By the fall, 1st Kansas had 6 companies, with 600 men, lead by William Matthews. The regiment's first battle was at Island Mound, Mo., in 1862. "It was very important because it proved to a lot of people that Blacks could fight."

Memorial for the first black infantry unit to be in Civil War combat   (Article no longer available from the original source)
A new monument to the bravery of the First Kansas Colored Infantry now stands in the Cabin Creek Battlefield Park. The marker was dedicated by members of the Oklahoma Historical Society, the Friends of Cabin Creek Battlefield and descendants of the men who participated in what Civil War historians call the first battle of Cabin Creek, Indian Territory. The monument commemorates the First Kansas Colored Infantry's distinction as the first black infantry unit to be engaged in combat during the American Civil War - at the battle of Island Mound, Missouri in Oct 1862.

More than 60,000 black soldiers fought for the Confederacy   (Article no longer available from the original source)
The thought that more than 60,000 black soldiers may have fought for the Confederacy during the American Civil War can be hard for some people to swallow. Edwin Kennedy has received harassing calls from people who think he`s advancing an underhanded agenda. He insists he`s just passing on the facts. "They`ve grown up on stereotypes and incomplete history. A lot of people don`t know the basic facts." Lots of misinformation exists about blacks who fought for the Confederacy. He uses records from the U.S. Army to dispel myths whenever he can. Many black soldiers fought for love of the country they knew best.

Blood & Fire: The 1st Kansas Colored Infantry   (Article no longer available from the original source)
They charged through blood and fire, so that the nation might live. However, at the time of their military service, they were not even recognized as citizens. They were the men who comprised the 1st Kansas Colored Infantry. Contrary to popular belief, the 1st Kansas was the first black regiment raised and trained by a state during the American Civil War to serve in the U.S. Army as a fighting unit. However, Hollywood would have you believe the 54th Massachusetts Infantry was the first black unit to serve as a fighting regiment - portrayed in the 1989 film Glory. But the honor belongs to the 1st Kansas.

The untold story of Sgt. William Holland
Ever visit Hazen`s Monument at Stones River National Battlefield? It is the oldest intact Civil War monument in the nation. A dirt path leads from the main walkway behind the right side of the wall. There in the shade of a few trees are two govt-issue grave markers. The first reads: WILLIAM HOLLAND, SGT, Co I, 111 REGT, US CLD INF, 1834-1909. When you decode the inscription, the story becomes more interesting. Holland was a sergeant with Company I of the 111 Regiment of the U.S. Colored Infantry. He was a freed slave who served with the Union Army of the Cumberland. So why wasn`t he buried inside the National Cemetery - Was he denied because he was black?

Slave Exhibits Stir Old Passions at Civil War Museum
Richmond, Virginia, whose Monument Avenue has glorified Confederate heroes for a century, is making room for new voices to tell the story of the Civil War. The American Civil War Center, which opened in the capital of the Confederacy in October, is the first museum in the U.S. to discuss the history of the war from the views of 3 sides: the North, the South and the slaves. A century and a half after the fighting ended, the museum isn't settling old arguments about the war. "The hope has been to try to educate everybody away from whatever prejudices or ill-informed biases they had," said James McPherson, author of "Battle Cry of Freedom: the Civil War Era."

Black Union soldier won Medal of Honor for uncommon valor   (Article no longer available from the original source)
First Sgt. Powhatan Beaty, a member of Company G of the 5th Infantry Regiment U.S. Colored Troops during the Civil War, received the Medal of Honor for uncommon valor. He joined the Union Army in 1863. The next year Gen. Ulysses Grant ordered a surprise attack against the Richmond lines. 3 black regiments participated in an assault on New Market Heights. In 30 minutes, the commanders and color-bearers were picked off by Confederate sharpshooters. Under intense fire, Beaty recovered the flag and took charge of his company. They fought to within 30 feet of the earthworks before the Confederates retreated.

Reconstruction and African American political power   (Article no longer available from the original source)
The period of U.S. history known as Reconstruction, following the Civil War, lasted 1865-1877. During this period, former slaves in the South made some of the most far-reaching gains that African Americans have seen in U.S. history. The Civil War, 1861-1865, was a profound social revolution. Although the victory of the North resulted in the end of slavery, that was not the stated aim of either President Abraham Lincoln, who refused to end slavery, assuring all slave owners who cooperated with the federal government that they would maintain "their property." His decision to issue the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation was a military decision.

Underground Railroad stopped with the outbreak of the Civil War   (Article no longer available from the original source)
The Underground Railroad describes a secret network of people and places 1830-1861 that served to aid southern slaves to escape to freedom, Giles R. Wright said. The Underground Railroad stopped operation with the outbreak of the Civil War. Throughout its history, some 30,000 to 40,000 runaways — 50,000 at the most — were involved. "In African-American history, there is no topic with more distortion, legends, myths, and misinformation than the Underground Railroad."

Visionary collection - Garage holds trove of black history
Working on her own, spending her salary Mayme Clayton amassed one of the finest collections of black history in the world – and stored it in her garage. "She has everything," says Sue Hodson, curator of manuscripts at the Huntington Library east of Los Angeles. "This is probably the finest collection of African-American literature, manuscripts, film and ephemera in private hands. It is just superior in every way." Hodson says that when the Mayme Clayton Collection is catalogued, it will be among the top such archives in the U.S., alongside the Vivian G. Harsh Collection and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

Heroics Of Black Brigade
One was a slave of Thomas Jefferson. One was a militant shop owner. One became a general. All 3 are part of America's hidden history, and Tall Stacks is offering a crash course from Cincinnati's Black Theater to highlight the accomplishments of the Black Brigade. Unarmed, under-appreciated and using rudimentary tools, the brigade cleared land ahead of the Union Army during the Civil War -- and got no recognition for their exploits. They were the first organized black militia in the United States.

Glory in the Final Battles of the Civil War
Christian Fleetwood was disgusted by the North's initial reluctance to accept black soldiers to fight the Confederacy. All that changed in 1863 after staggering Union losses at Gettysburg. A desperate Washington openly recruited African-Americans. "Uncommon Valor" buttress Northern ranks for the war's grinding late offensives. The authors trace the recruits through a year in which they endure slights, earn respect, and emerge with battlefield distinctions. Battle of New Market is a key event: 14 of the 16 blacks awarded the Medal of Honor for bravery in the war (out of 200,000 who served) were decorated in this bloody battle.

Honor our black troops for helping Union win Civil War   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Frederick Douglass hounded President Abraham Lincoln to allow black men to enlist in the Union Army and fight in "a war brazenly carried on for the perpetual enslavement of colored men." Douglass' position was that the Civil War was not just a "white man's war." There were detractors who argued that black men had no place in a war over "white folks' business." But with the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, the black man was legally allowed to enlist in the Union army. Douglass recruited two of his own sons with the rousing call, "Men of Color to Arms! Now or Never!" and traversed the North rallying black men to serve.

Black American Contributions to Union Intelligence
"Black Dispatches" was a common term used among Union military men for intelligence on Confederate forces provided by Negroes. This source of information represented the single most prolific and productive category of intelligence obtained and acted on by Union forces throughout the Civil War. Black Dispatches resulted from frontline tactical debriefings of slaves--either runaways or those having just come under Union control. Black Americans also contributed, however, to tactical and strategic Union intelligence through behind-the-lines missions and agent-in-place operations.