Black Americans and their contributions toward Union victory in the American Civil War, 1861-1865.

No Thumbnail Available
Mays, Joe
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Middle Tennessee State University
The central focus of this study is to provide a comprehensive survey of the history of black Americans during the Civil War, 1861-1865, and to demonstrate the role they played toward helping the Union win the war. Both the direct involvement of black Americans in the war and their contributions behind the Union lines are discussed.
Approximately 520,000 blacks entered the Union lines during the war, most of whom served as laborers, spies, guides, cooks, laundresses, servants, and teamsters. More than 200,00 of them, however, fought in the Union army and navy. These black soldiers and sailors fought courageously in every military department of the United States army and navy. Twenty-one of them were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for outstanding bravery.
This study demonstrates that blacks in noncombatant positions also performed their duties creditably and made valuable contributions to the Union war effort. The Union spy system relied heavily upon information supplied by former slaves. Because these blacks were acquainted with natural features of the country, they made excellent spies, scouts, and guides. The laborers performed a variety of duties, including the construction of roads, railroads and bridges. Blacks (women and men) served also in hospitals and camps as nurses and aides in caring for the sick and wounded.
On the northern homefront blacks were not neglectful of responsibilities. They kept pressure on the President and Congress to abolish slavery, enlist blacks in the Union army, and provide for racial equality. Black churches and secular leaders formed freedmen's aid associations, which solicited gifts of clothing and donations of cash, and distributed the donated clothing, food, and medical supplies to needy contrabands. Black missionary associations, churches, and black individuals established schools throughout the South and in some northern cities for the former slaves.
Finally, this dissertation includes a teaching unit demonstrating how this topic may be integrated into a traditional unit taught in secondary and college survey American history courses.
The official records of the United States government for the armies and navies, contemporary and documentary works, secondary books and periodical articles, theses and dissertations supplied information for this study.