Black Soldiers in American History Essay

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Black Soldiers in American History

While many volumes of work have been written on the heroics of Anglo-Americans in defense of the United States, insufficient notice has been given to the extensive involvement of blacks in defense of the United States beginning with, but not limited to, the Revolutionary War. Although bought over in chains, blacks continually demonstrated their commitment to liberty, equality and democracy through their participation and valiant fighting in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.

The first group of Africans in the United States is attributed to a group of twenty bought in 1619 to an area that was later settled as Virginia. The status of Africans was typically that of indentured
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In spite of these early policies, one finds the Varner Rhode Island Battalion as "…the only large aggregation of Negroes in this war, though Connecticut, New York and New Hampshire each furnished one separate company…"1. As men became scarcer, slaves began to find their way into the ranks. But it is difficult to maintain a caste society when one finds slaves fighting side-by-side with freemen, so October 1775, General George Washington and his generals voted unanimously against the enlistment of slaves and the further enlistment of freemen.

The British Army, under the leadership of Lord Dunmore, quite astutely, offered freedom for any slave fighting for King George. Washington was compelled to act in response to such a provocative offer. One must keep in mind that there were many blacks desirous of enlisting and the decision to enlist and arm slaves came down to necessity. On the question of utilizing Southern slaves, Congress decided that South Carolina and Georgia would "…take measures immediately for raising 3000 able-bodied negreos."2. These men were to serve in segregated units. Congress was to compensate slave owners up to one thousand dollars for the services of their slaves with no compensation given directly to those fighting in the war other than room and board.3 Esteemed historians of the South estimate Negro loss of life, between the years