News / USA

Re-enactors Celebrate African-American Contribution to US Civil War

Re-enactors Celebrate African-American Contribution to US Civil Wari
X
July 04, 2014 2:35 AM
In 1862, African-Americans -- both free and escaped slaves -- were allowed to enlist in the Federal army. One hundred seventy-nine thousand served during the conflict -- and many believe there service was a major turning point in the war. One of those black regiments was recently recognized for its contributions -- in the war that took more than two hundred thousand lives -- and VOA was there to share this story.

Their exploits were little known by most of the public in the decades after they fought, but towards the end of the 20th century, more attention began to be paid to the African-Americans who fought for the Union during the U.S. Civil War.

In 1862, African-Americans -- both free and escaped slaves -- were allowed to enlist in the Federal army. One hundred seventy-nine thousand served during the conflict, and many believe there service was a major turning point in the war. One of those black regiments was recently recognized for its Civil War contributions.

The participation of African-Americans in the U.S. Civil war was made popular to the world in the 1989 theatrical release of Glory, that depicted the story of the Massachusetts 54th U.S.C.T. or, United States Colored Troops. However, there were many other African-American regiments that fought in the war that divided a country and claimed 620,000 lives.

With the participation of Civil War re- enactors, the U.S. National Park service recognized the 23rd U.S.C.T., the first Black regiment to fight in direct combat with the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia.

 “To come here today and to gather on this spot - really for the first time, yeah, first time ever public event -- public recognition on this place and its role in history.  I just couldn’t imagine a more appropriate ending to this beautiful day than that,” said John Hennessy, a historian for the National Park Service.

The 23rd fought bravely and victoriously at The Battle of the Wilderness in Spotslyvania on May 15, 1864.

These men escaped from slavery and gathered in camps in and around Washington D.C. from 1863 to 1864. From there they were recruited into the Union Army of the Potomac and formed the 23rd.

They returned to the place of their enslavement to free those friends and families they were forced to leave behind.

“But the first significant battle that they were in was here. The second Ohio was going to reach out for help, the only help available is the fourth division of the Ninth Corps -- the fourth division are all US colored troops and then they will fire on Thomas Ross’s Calvary Brigade and drive them away,” said Steward Henderson, president of the 23rd U.S.C.T.

The re-enactors not only added a sense of authenticity to the event but they were also historians themselves.

It’s time-consuming and expensive. Only the most dedicated commit to this.

“The reason I put in time and money to be a re-enactor is that, I believe that adults and children in the United States - and elsewhere - should know about the history of black people,” said Malanna Carey, one of the re-enactors.

“I just never really knew our history as fully as I wanted to and ironically when I was in school I hated history and I think it was because I could not find myself in that history. They were able to answer questions like, ‘How did the Black regiments stand up to the expectations of the white troops?’” said Patricia Tyson, another.

“They had no idea what the former slaves could do; they had no idea if they would fight or run.  So from their perspective I can kind of understand it but they had to earn their trust, in the U.S.C.T, the more they earn that trust, the more they took part in battles and all-that trust grew and it grew into legend. It grew into greater glory,” said Kevin Williams, also a re-enactor.

“It went from ‘oh no it’s the U.S.C.T’s, what’re they going to do’ to ‘oh good it’s the U.S.C.T’s, we know they stay and fight,’” explained re-enactor George Hart.

it wasn’t only the men.  Women played a large role as well.

“There was no gentle Victorian status put for American African women, we worked, we labored we did whatever we had to do. They were part of the whole framework of the Union Army,” said Yulanda Burges, a re-enactor.

“We’re not one country, we are a lot of countries all together under one emblem - we’re Americans and it’s important that we remember that all of these men, regardless of where they came from, added something to our country,” said Larry Clowers, another.

The reasons for war will always be debated but the sacrifice and bravery of those who fought and died must always be acknowledged.

You May Like

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid