The American Civil War
It is unfortunate that an historical event, that is so very important in the history of African Americans, and in which their ancestors played a very significant military role; which led to the defeat of the Confederate States of America; has been so neglected by the majority of African Americans today.
Not only African Americans, but the majority of Americans don’t know anything about the American Civil War; other than, the North fought the South and President Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves by signing the Emancipation Proclamation (EP).
The EP was a war strategy.
The recruitment of men to fight for the Union (North) had dropped .
Many in the North had expected the war to last only a few weeks.
When it didn’t, their enthusiasm for the war declined.
Many Caucasian northerners refused to join the military.
The Northern military commanders in the field, were desperate for new recruits.
A draft law was finally passed to help with military enlistment.
After the draft law was passed; riots took place in many northern cities.
People of African descent were robbed, beaten, and killed.
The rioters blamed African Americans, as the cause of the war and the draft.
Some of the Northern military commanders stationed in the Confederate States; wanted to use the males slaves who had ran away from servitude.
Many of these runaway slaves were camped around the Yankee (Northerners) bases in the south.
These commanders wanted to use these runaway slaves in some kind of military capacity.
But, the politicians in Washington DC were against it.
They didn’t want to be seen as supporting runaway slaves.
President Lincoln believed that using slaves to fight; would justify what the South had been saying about him.
That his sole intention for being President of the USA was to destroy slavery.
The politicians also believed that the slaveholders (in Kentucky, Maryland, Delaware, Missouri and some Parishes in Louisiana) who were supportive of the North would change their allegiance to the Confederates; if slaves were used in some military capacity..
Also, to do that would be against the Constitution of the United States.
The government could not confiscate someone else’s property without their permission.
But things became worse for the North on many battle fields.
The Yankee army was not dominating in the field of battle.
Many of the battles and skirmishes were won by the Confederates.
Although the draft was in place; the Yankee commanders still suffered from lack of new recruits.
The problem was solved with the argument that the President being the Commander In Chief during a time of war have the power to temporarily go against the Constitution.
The EP gave the commanders in the field the right to forcibly take male slaves from the plantations and used them for whatever military necessity they had.
Read the EP again.
Look at what it said about using the ex-slaves:
“And I further declare and make known, that such persons of suitable condition, will be received into the armed service of the United States to garrison forts, positions, stations, and other places, and to man vessels of all sorts in said service.”
The North was desperate for new recruits and the EP solved that problem.
Many Northern commanders then started raiding slave plantation in the South and enlisted all the able-bodied slaves they could find.
Many of the slaves were willing to enlist but there were others who didn’t like it.
Many of them were were very loyal to their masters’ family.
We may find this hard to believe; but many slaves and their parents before them had spent their whole lives, belonging to the same Caucasian family.
They felt that they were being forced into replacing one slave master for another.
The Yankee government was now their new master.
Without the use of African American men fighting on the side of the Union; the Confederates would most likely have won the war.
The United States would have been permanently divided.
The Confederate States of America would have become a reality.
The entry of African American men to the fight, brought about a change in the spirit of the war.
The Gettysburg Address referenced to a new birth of freedom for America; was because the people of African descent would be freed from slavery.
The freeing of African Americans are who President Lincoln was primarily referring to in the Gettysburg Address.
Saying that once they were freed from slavery then the whole nation would experience a ‘new birth of freedom.”
The moral stain of slavery would be removed from the United States of America forever.
As Fredrick Douglass was reported to have said, “It seem like the All-Mighty Creator was blessing the North to be victorious in their battles after the EP was issued.”
At first some Northern commanders didn’t want African American men under their command; but after they learned of their fighting ability; they couldn’t get enough of them in their regiments.
Over 40,000 African American soldiers and sailors died fighting for the Union army.
Near the end of the Civil War, the Confederate leaders finally authorized the forming of a regiment of African American soldiers.
However, it was too late.
The Confederate government had rejected doing so earlier.
They believe it would be a contradiction to the statement made by the Vice-President of the Confederate States at the birth of the Confederacy about ‘the superiority of white men over Negroes’.
But in 1864-65 they were desperate. They knew they were going to be defeated.
The men of African descent in the Union army, had been decimating the Confederate soldiers on many battlefields.
Men of African descent from the South, had also fought on many occasions, alongside their slave masters and their fellow Caucasian southerners during the war.
That is why it has been reported erroneously that there were regiments of ‘negroes’ fighting for the Confederacy.
They were not part of any military unit.
Just some slaves fighting besides their masters.
BATTLE HYMN OF THE REPUBLIC
The words and the title of the song “*John Brown’s Body,” which was a popular song among every African American regiment during the Civil War, was later changed and called “The Battle Hymn Of The Republic.”
The African American soldiers were the only ones who sung this song during the Civil War.
So every time you heard the song The Battle Hymn Of The Republic you should be reminded that your ancestors were the ones who played a significant role in the fight to end slavery in America.
When the Northern soldiers march into the Confederate capital in Virginia, near the end of the war; the inhabitants were surprised to see an African American Cavalry regiment among the first to enter.
Then an African American Infantry entered with a marching band playing John Brown’s Body and the song Babylon Has Fallen.
We all need to read about the participation of our ancestors in the Civil War.
We were not just freed by President Abraham Lincoln signing the EP but because of the courageous fighting ability of our ancestors on many battlefields during the civil War.
Our ancestor have made more sacrifices for this country than any other Americans.
It is one thing to be a patriot when everyone loves, respect you, and welcome you with open arms.
But to be patriotic, when the majority of your fellow citizens hate you and treat you like garbage; is the greatest mark of a true patriot.
Our patriotism have always been rejected by those who hate us.
Our patriotism should be for OURSELVES; not to show anyone else that we love this country.
We MUST stake our claim for the United States of America.
Our ancestors gave their blood, sweat and tears; for the day when we will have the same rights as every other American citizen.
We need to remember that despite the terrible situation that our ancestors endured during the past centuries here in the so-called ‘New World;’ their achievements are unparalleled by any other group of people in the recent history of the world.
We need to be inspired by them.
Unfortunately; the majority of our people only know about the bad things (slavery, cruelty, discrimination, segregation etc.).
We hear little about their intelligence (many plantations owed their success to the knowledge of slaves who were farmers in Africa).
We hear little about their loyalty and faithfulness to kind and caring ‘masters’ and their family.
Slave masters who would not allow anyone to mistreat their ‘slaves.
We hear little about the numerous cruel slave masters and overseers killed by slaves.
We hear little about African Americans’ patriotism (they fought in every military conflict in America from the 17th century until the present).
Many African Americans fought in the American Revolutionary war; that freed the American colonies from Britain.
During the 17 and 18 century they were also very active in the struggle for the rights of slaves and indentured servants.
At that time mixed marriages were common between indentured servants from the British Isles and Africans; until, the “rich landowners’ passed laws to stop this unity between the slaves and the indentured servants.
Over the next centuries many of the children of these marriages (free because the mothers were Caucasians) eventually merged into the Caucasian race (there is a claim that Abraham Lincoln was one of the descendants of these mixed unions).
It is also a fact that the wife of the Confederate President Jefferson Davis was a woman of African descent.
Later in the 20th century many prominent Americans were also of African descent.
These include Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and Jimmy Carter.
FBI director J. Edgar Hoover was also a man of African descent.
Clarke Gable the actor was also of African descent.
The American Civil War came to a swift conclusion after African American soldiers entered the war.
Their courage and fighting ability were well known during and after the war.
That is the reason why they were allowed to remain as members of the American military (9th and 10th Calvary Regiment and the 24th and 25th Infantry Regiment) after the war and unfortunately; they were sent out west to fight against the Native Americans.
During past military conflicts and wars in the USA; men of African descent were quickly removed from the military after the war was over.
That was the norm after the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.
That changed after the Civil War.
My point is that, not all of our history is about weeping and wailing.
Some of the most courageous and wonderful Human Beings that the world has ever produced; existed among our people.
We need to study their history and emulate them.
African Americans should stop believing and saying; our ancestors were freed because Abraham Lincoln signed the EP.
Our ancestors were freed from slavery; because they fought on many battlefields and on many battleships to ensure the Confederacy was defeated.
* ” I believe the reason for changing the lyrics and words of the song John Brown’s Body was to ‘whitewash’ it of it’s tie with slaves and slavery. The majority of Americans have no knowledge of the origin of the song ‘The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” This is one of the more popular version before the song was ‘whitewashed.’
“John Brown’s body lies moldering in the grave,While weep the sons of bondage whom he ventured all to save; But tho he lost his life while struggling for the slave,His soul is marching on.
(Chorus) Glory, glory hallelujah. Glory, glory hallelujah. Glory, glory hallelujah. His soul is marching on.
John Brown was a hero, undaunted, true and brave,
And Kansas knows his valor when he fought her rights to save;
Now, tho the grass grows green above his grave,
His soul is marching on.
He captured Harper’s Ferry, with his nineteen men so few,
And frightened “Old Virginny” till she trembled thru and thru;
They hung him for a traitor, they themselves the traitor crew,
But his soul is marching on.
John Brown was John the Baptist of the Christ we are to see,
Christ who of the bondmen shall the Liberator be,
And soon thru out the Sunny South the slaves shall all be free,
For his soul is marching on.
The conflict that he heralded he looks from heaven to view,
On the army of the Union with its flag red, white and blue.
And heaven shall ring with anthems o’er the deed they mean to do,
For his soul is marching on.
Ye soldiers of Freedom, then strike, while strike ye may,
The death blow of oppression in a better time and way,
For the dawn of old John Brown has brightened into day,
And his soul is marching on.
African American Marines in training during WWII and General Daniel ‘Chappie’ James, the USAF’s first African American 4 star General.
Pictures of Jesse Leroy Brown and his Naval comrades. Read about him at: