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The Black Civil War Soldier: Conflict and Citizenship

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1 Quoted in Holland, Frederic May, Frederick Douglass: The Colored Orator (New York: Haskell House Publishers, Ltd, 1969; first published 1891), 301.

2 Quoted in Cecelski, David S., The Fire of Freedom: Abraham Galloway and the Slaves’ Civil War (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2012), 98.

3 Rosenheim, Jeff L., Photography and the American Civil War (New York and New Haven, CT: The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Yale University Press, 2013), 163.

4 Longacre, Edward G., A Regiment of Slaves: The 4th United States Colored Infantry, 1863–1866 (Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2003), 20.

5 John Boston to Mrs. Elizabeth Boston, 12 Jan. 1862, enclosed in Maj. Gen. Geo. B. McClellan to Hon. Edwin Stanton, 21 Jan. 1862, A-587 1862, Letters Received, ser. 12, Adjutant General's Office, Record Group 94, National Archives. The envelope is addressed, in different handwriting, to Mrs. Elizabeth Boston Care Mrs. Prescia Owen Owensville Post Office Maryland.Newkirk, Pamela, ed., Letters from Black America: Intimate Portraits of the African American Experience (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2009).

7 Hughes, Michael O., “Eyes That Do Not See: Eye Loss and Prosthetic Restoration During the American Civil War Years,” Journal of Ophthalmic Prosthetics, 13, 1 (Fall 2008), 1728 , 1.

8 From the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment photographs, Photo. 2.162, at

9 Quoted in Aptheker, Herbert, ed., A Documentary History of the Negro People in the United States (New York: Citadel Press, 1951), 482–84.

10 Coddington, Ronald S., African American Faces of the Civil War: An Album (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012), 153.

12 Christian A. Fleetwood enlisted in Company G of the 4th Regiment United States Colored Infantry, Union Army, in August 1863. Due to his educated background, Fleetwood was given the rank of sergeant upon enlistment and was promoted to sergeant major days later, on August 19. His regiment was assigned to the 3rd Division and saw service with the 10th, 18th, and 25th Army Corps in campaigns in North Carolina and Virginia.

13 National Humanities Center Resource Toolbox, The Making of African American Identity: Vol. I, 1500–1865, Diary of Sergeant Major Christian A. Fleetwood, U. S. Colored Infantry Fourth Regiment, Company G, 1864.

14 See; [Spotswood Rice] to My Children [3 Sept. 1864], enclosed in F. W. Diggs to Gen. Rosecrans, 10 Sept. 1864, D-296 1864, Letters Received, ser. 2593, Department of the MO, US Army Continental Commands, Record Group 393 Pt. 1, National Archives. The first fourteen lines of the letter appear to be in Private Rice's handwriting, but the remainder is in another hand. Rice, a tobacco roller and the slave of Benjamin Lewis, had enlisted in early February 1864 at Glasgow, Missouri. On the date of this letter, he was hospitalized with chronic rheumatism. Service record of Spottswood Rice, 67th USCI, Carded Records, Volunteer Organizations: Civil War, ser. 519, Adjutant General's Office, Record Group 94, National Archives.

16 Quoted in Newkirk, Letters from Black America, 230.

18 Quoted in Blackett, R. J. M., ed., Thomas Morris Chester: Black Civil War Correspondent (Boston, MA: Da Capo Press, 1991), 290.

19 Ibid., xii.

21 A blog post on the Library of Congress website noted that least 400 women served as soldiers on both sides of the Civil War.

22 The uniform of the 5th New York Volunteer Infantry (Duryée's Zouaves), 1861, consisted of a distinctive jacket, vest, sash, baggy trousers, and fez. The Zouave uniform adopted on both sides by many volunteer units during the first year of the Civil War was based on that of the elite Zouave battalion of the French Army, whose dashing appearance matched its fighting abilities. In their turn, the French Zouaves modeled their uniform and drill after the native dress and fearless tactics of their former Algerian opponents, encountered in the course of the colonial war of the 1830s.

26 Williams, George Washington, A History of the Negro Troops in the War of the Rebellion, 1861–1865 (New York: Harper and Bros., 1887), 7778 .

27 Davis, Keith F., “‘A Terrible Distinctness’: Photography of the Civil War Era,” in Sandweiss, Martha A., ed., Photography in Nineteenth-Century America (Fort Worth and New York: Amon Carter Museum and Harry N. Abrams, 1991), 130–73, 143.

28 African American Perspectives: Pamphlets from the Daniel A. P. Murray Collection, 1818–1907. Benjamin, R. C. O., Light after darkness: Being an Up-to-Date History of the American Negro (Xenia, OH: Marshall & Beveridge, 1896).

29 Thomas J. Calloway, special agent, “The Negro Exhibit International Exposition in Paris,” Report of the Commissioner-General for the United States, 1900, Volume II, US Senate Document n. 232, United States Congressional Serial Set (Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 1901), 462–67, 463.

30 Ibid., 466.

31 Albert Shaw, Reviews and World's Work, Volume 22, Review of Reviews Corporation, 1900, 577.

32 Blake was the first African American to actually receive a Medal of Honor, which was presented to him in 1864; Carney did not receive his until 1900. But because Carney's action occurred first, he usually is credited with being the first African American Medal of Honor recipient.

33 Harris, Lindsay, “Before the Eyes of Thousands: The 54th Massachusetts Regiment and the Shaw Memorial in Twentieth-Century Art,” in Greenough, Sarah and Anderson, Nancy K., eds., Tell It with Pride: The 54th Massachusetts Regiment and Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ Shaw Memorial (Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art, 2013), 94111 , 97.

34 Trachtenberg, Alan, “Unsung Heroes: History in the Making,” in A Stirring Song Sung Heroic: African Americans from Slavery to Freedom, 1619 to 1865 – William Williams (Haverford and Bethlehem, PA: Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery, Haverford College, and Lehigh University Art Galleries, 2013), 19 , 8.

35 Quoted in ibid.; Newkirk, Letters from Black America, 230.

The illustrations accompanying this essay and their accompanying captions can kindly be found at the end.

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Journal of American Studies
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