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African-American Life Between 1860-1877: The Black Soldiers - Essay Example

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A revolution is any “sudden or momentous change in a situation”. The American Civil War o 1860-1877 was definitely a momentous occasion for Negroes in particular and Americans in general. This was a time when America underwent some radical changes…
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African-American Life Between 1860-1877: The Black Soldiers
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Download file to see previous pages A new era was ushered in after Civil war heralded by a radical change in the treatment of African Americans as well the move to city. The Civil War killed more Americans than all the other United States conflicts together. From the American Revolution to Vietnam War, nothing claimed more lives than the civil war as it took more than 2 per cent, or 620,000 people, of the American population at the time. Many died from the awful wounds caused wounds garnered during combat. And sadly, many more soldiers succumbed to diseases, like measles and dysentery. Both Black and White soldiers suffered similar fates in the battlefield although same cannot be said of their families back home. For families of black soldiers, the horrors were of a much greater magnitude.1 President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation On January 1, 1863. It stated that: “All persons held as slaves within any States…in rebellion against the United States,” it declared, “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.” It also declared that “such persons [that is, African-American men] of suitable condition will be received into the armed service of the United States.” And so for the first time, black soldiers were allowed to fight for the U.S. Army. As the union soldiers entered the south, many thousands of black slaves fled from their masters to Union Camp. The union officers took full advantage of the situation and branded these slaves as “contraband of war”. These slaves became a large part of the war effort forming a large part of the workforce at Union Camp. Alfred R. Waud. Alfred photographed these contrabands and drew pictures of them to be published in the local newspaper. He also made written observations of the black slaves. According to Alfred, he was very touched by their nature. These contrabands came in to the Union Camps and gave up every trace of their previous lives just for the promise of freedom and equality. Alfred R. Waud states that, “There is something very touching in seeing these poor people coming into camp--giving up all the little ties that cluster about home, such as it is in slavery, and trustfully throwing themselves on the mercy of the Yankees, in the hope of getting permission to own themselves and keep their children from the auction-block. This party evidently comprises a whole family from some farm.”2 But despite their warm welcome at the Union Camps, the army was reluctant about using the contraband manpower in combat. This was not entirely due to racism. Many Union officers genuinely believed that black soldiers lacked the ability to become brave soldiers. This argument seemed completely logical to them as black soldiers were only intelligent enough to be recruited as cooks, scouts, carpenters and guards! African American soldiers patiently bided their time doing whatever work was thrown their way, till the Emancipation proclamation made it perfectly legal to use them as soldiers on the battlefield. It was a lot more dangerous to be black soldier than it was to be a white one. Then Confederate President Jefferson Davis publicly promised that black prisoners of war would be enslaved or murdered on the spot. Of course, the punishment would not be as strict for white ones3! The average African American soldier living during the age of Civil war was hopeful. There was change in the air and a promise that things just might get better for his future generation. Although in reality, equal rights were far from enforced. But at least on paper, the black man had earned the right to vote, pray in church, and live in families. In ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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