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Also, a federal law dating back to 1792 stated Blacks could not fight in the United States Army.
Then in September of 1862, Abraham Lincoln passed the Emancipation Proclamation which declared, “slaves within any State, or designated part of a State … When Blacks began to fight many whites realized that it was for the better.
Recruitment of whites had become difficult and after Blacks were allowed to enlist not as many white men would have to enlist.
The Massachusetts 54th Regiment, commanded by abolitionist Robert Gould Shaw, was ambushed by Confederate forces while trying to attack the strong Confederate fortress on Morris Island.
The Massachusetts 54th fought gallantly but the Union forces fell back with heavy casualties, and 1,515 men were killed, wounded, or missing.
There was much opposition from whites, because many thought that the Blacks were biologically inferior and could not be trusted with weapons.
They thought arming them would cause the slaves to rebel, and because the war was supposed to be very short it would not be necessary.These former slaves were used in very effective blockades of southern ports.Unlike the Army, the Navy treated the Blacks well, housing and feeding them with whites and offering them opportunities for promotion.Because of this, Union Army Blacks fought with a greater sense of purpose and a better morale.Though Black soldiers in the Army fought as bravely as the white soldiers, they were often discriminated against.Soon, private agents, the federal government, and northern states had to compete for Black recruits.The government sent General Lorenzo Thomas to the Mississippi Valley to organize Black troops and in less than three months he raised more than twenty regiments of Black soldiers.If Blacks were wounded they were carried off the battlefield as an afterthought, and if they did arrive at a hospital alive they would receive slow and inadequate care.Also, if captured by Confederate troops, a Black soldier would be immediately executed or sold into slavery.Black soldiers were among the bravest of those fighting in the Civil War. Even though Black soldiers had to face much discrimination during the Civil War, they were willing to fight to the death for their freedom.Both free Blacks in the Union army and escaped slaves from the South rushed to fight for their freedom and they fought with distinction in many major Civil War battles. Both free Blacks and slaves wanted to fight in the Civil War and volunteered from the start.