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

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine Could Be in Use by January

U.S. Homeland Security says all passengers arriving in US from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone must fly into one of five airports equipped with enhanced screening for Ebola 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.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid