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Study Guide: The Civil War and the Black Soldier

Research the historical documents for The Civil War and the Black Soldier to find answers to
many of the following questions. Historical documents are primary documents
that can include old photographs and newspaper clippings, documents, reports,
old magazine articles, and art work.

1. What government action allowed blacks to enter the Civil War on the Union side?

Reference: Newspapers

"Emancipation." The New York Times.

"Negroes." Charleston [SC] Mercury.

2. How did the Northern press react to the issue of blacks in the military? How did the Southern press react?

Reference: Newspapers

"Negro Soldiers -- The Question Settled and its Consequences." New York Times.

"Negroes." Charleston [SC] Mercury.

[Confederate editorial on Union blacks in the military.] Richmond Sentinel.

Wilmington [NC] Daily Journal.

Charleston (SC) Mercury.

"Reported Revolt of Negro Regiments at Port Hudson and Baton Rouge." Wilmington

[NC] Daily Journal.

"The Draft of the North." The Richmond Whig.

"Negro Troops." The Richmond Whig.

3. What was the Confederate position on allowing blacks to serve in the war on their side?

Reference: Newspapers

[A proposal for enlisting black soldiers for the Confederate cause.] Wilmington [NC]

Daily Journal.

"Jeff Davis' Call for Slaves." Wheeling (WV) Daily Intelligencer.

"Jeff Davis' Call." Wheeling (WV) Daily Intelligencer.

"Employment of Negroes in the Army." Richmond Whig.

4. What was the 54th Massachusetts?

Reference: Newspapers

"Massachusetts Colored Troops - Thomas Wentworth Higgisson Tells of Their First Enlistment." The New York Times.

"Negroes." Charleston [SC] Mercury.

5. What was the last, great fight of the 54th Massachusetts?

Reference: Newspapers

"Operations Against Charleston." The New York Times.

"The Siege of Charleston." The New York Times.

6. How were captured black troops treated compared to captured white troops?

Reference: Newspapers

"Capture of Negro Troops." Wilmington (NC) Daily Journal.

"Negroes Taken in Arms." Charleston [SC] Mercury.

"Union Negro Soldiers Prisoners." New Orleans Bee.

"Negroes." Charleston [SC] Mercury.


1.Make a copy of the document on this page:, a recruiting poster for black soldiers during the Civil War. Click on “Teaching Activities” or here to find questions to ask about this document. This page also gives ideas for creative writing activities for students.

2.The movie, “Glory” (in an edited version: Google edited movies, historical) could be shown to the class. This is the moving story of the 54th Massachusetts colored regiment. The website in #1 also has links to the regiment’s webpage.






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