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Company E, 4th United States Colored Infantry
c. 1864

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Company E, 4th United States Colored Infantry

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At the beginning of the Civil War, African Americans rushed to join the Union army, but were turned away. President Lincoln was afraid of offending the border states and the majority of northern whites, who did not want to fight alongside black people. But with the announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, Union recruitment of African American men became legal. Segregation remained in place, however, as all-black units, headed primarily by white officers, were formed.

The men in this picture are from Company E, 4th United States Colored Infantry. Theirs was one of the detachments assigned to guard the nation's capital.

Image Credit: From the collections of the Library of Congress

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