Photo Gallery: African American Soldiers

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Selected images of African American Civil War soldiers.

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Over 170,000 African American soldiers served during the Civil War.

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Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, issued January 1, 1863, called for the recruitment of African Americans to the Union cause.

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Even after being widely recognized as fearsome and reliable soldiers, African Americans could not serve as commissioned officers, and every black regiment was led by white officers.

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The most well-known African American regiment was the Massachusetts 54th, which distinguished itself at the battle of fort Wagner in July of 1863.

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In a letter to a friend, one black sergeant wrote "If I fall in the battle anticipated, remember I fall in defense of my race and my country."

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Twenty-three African American soldiers were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for their bravery.

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Of the 180,000 African American soldiers who fought for the Union, 37,300 died.

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“The colored population is the great available and yet unavailed of, force for restoring the Union. The bare sight of fifty thousand armed, and drilled black soldiers on the banks of the Mississippi, would end the rebellion at once.” -- Abraham Lincoln

|Chicago Historical Society

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