African-Americans: Serving With Pride and Distinction

Examines how African-Americans have served their country loyally during all of its wars.

Despite being enslaved, having their African culture all but eradicated, and being discriminated against, African-Americans have proven themselves loyal to their nation by serving in many of the United States’ wars. This paper examines the role that African-American soldiers played in American military history, starting with the Revolutionary War and ending with the Vietnam War.
African-American soldiers were organized into all-black units referred to as the U.S. Colored Troops. These units were primarily led by white officers. Only seventy-five black officers were commissioned, eight of whom were physicians. Of the 209,000 blacks who entered service, 93,000 came from Confederate states. The Confederacy at first refused to recognize blacks as soldiers. Unlike other Union troops who were captured, black soldiers were at first not allowed to surrender, and many were shot. African Americans took part in more than 200 battles and skirmishes. In all, 68,178 died in battle or as the result of wounds or disease during the war.