t was inevitable that the Union government would find a way to enlist former slaves, whose cause had played so great a part in starting the war, and turn them into a weapon for winning it. Thousands wanted to take up arms to fight for their brothers still in bonds in the Confederacy, and eventually several tens of thousands were enlisted in more than one hundred all-black regiments; although at the beginning they were regarded more as laborers than combat soldiers. The uniforms and equipment for these units was virtually the same as that for this private of the 56th United States Colored Infantry, and in fact, no different from that of the average white soldier. Dark blue wool jacket, light blue wool trousers, blue cloth kepi, Springfield rifle and ' accompanying bayonet ! were all standard issue. Most glaringly different was the fact that for the most of the war, until at 'i least 1864, black soldiers -i were paid less than their white counterparts. The
56th Colored Infantry was raised March 11, 1864, from 3rd Alabama Infantry (African Descent) and was engaged on operation from April 1864 to August 1865 and from then until September, 1866 it was employed on "garrison duty." During its service the regiment lost 4 officers and 21 enlisted men killed, and 2 officers and 647 enlisted men through disease.
Was this article helpful?