We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Lincoln and the U.S. Colored Troops

John David Smith

Publication Year: 2013

When Abraham Lincoln issued his final Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, he not only freed the slaves in the Confederate states but also invited freed slaves and free persons of color to join the U.S. Army as part of the U.S. Colored Troops (USCT), the first systematic, large-scale effort by the U.S. government to arm African Americans to aid in the nation’s defense. By the end of the war in 1865, nearly 180,000 black soldiers had fought for the Union. Lincoln’s role in the arming of African Americans remains a central but unfortunately obscure part of one of the most compelling periods in American history.  In Lincoln and the U.S. Colored Troops John David Smith offers a concise, enlightening exploration of the development of Lincoln’s military emancipation project, its implementation, and the recruitment and deployment of black troops.  Though scholars have written much on emancipation and the USCT, Smith’s work frames the evolution of Lincoln’s ideas on emancipation and arming blacks within congressional actions, explaining how, when, and why the president seemed to be so halting in his progression to military emancipation. After tracing Lincoln’s evolution from opposing to supporting emancipation as a necessary war measure and to championing the recruitment of black troops for the Union Army, Smith details the creation, mobilization, and diverse military service of the USCT. He assesses the hardships under which the men of the USCT served, including the multiple forms of discrimination from so-called friends and foes alike, and examines the broad meaning of Lincoln’s military emancipation project and its place in African American historical memory.

Published by: Southern Illinois University Press


pdf iconDownload PDF (74.9 KB)
p. 1-1

Jacket Flaps

pdf iconDownload PDF (116.3 KB)
p. 2-2

Series Page, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

pdf iconDownload PDF (288.0 KB)
pp. 3-8


pdf iconDownload PDF (157.9 KB)
pp. 9-12

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (194.8 KB)
pp. 1-7

On March 30, 1864, Private Hannibal Cox, an infantryman in the Fourteenth U.S. Colored Troops (USCT), sent President Abraham Lincoln a gift?a poem that he had written at his military post in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Cox described himself as ?a Man ally became the property of a slaveholder named Green in Lincoln County, Tennessee. In August 1863, Cox escaped to the U.S. General ...

read more

1. The Final Emancipation Proclamation and Military Emancipation

pdf iconDownload PDF (295.9 KB)
pp. 8-32

On January 1, 1863, Abraham Lincoln declared ?as a fit and necessary war measure? that slaves held in Confederate ter-ritory ?henceforward shall be free.? After imploring the newly freed slaves to ?abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defence,? the president proclaimed ?that such persons of suitable condition, will be received into the armed service of the United States to gar-...

read more

2. Emancipation and Mobilization

pdf iconDownload PDF (284.0 KB)
pp. 33-54

News of Abraham Lincoln?s final Emancipation Proclamation spread quickly across Union army camps in occupied areas of the Confederacy, where Federal of_f_icers read the document aloud to white troops and contrabands alike. Black people in coastal South Carolina, upon listening to Lincoln?s words, simultaneously began Eleventh Corps heard news of the proclamation from their of_f_icers. ...

read more

3. Discrimination Front and Rear

pdf iconDownload PDF (268.7 KB)
pp. 55-72

Lincoln?s black soldiers faced more serious problems than white of_f_icers who were committed more to higher wages than to racial equality. According to historian and former USCT soldier George in his rear and enemies in his front.? Aghast at the mistreatment, degradation, and discrimination under which the men of the USCT served, Cincinnati Gazette columnist Whitelaw Reid complained that ...

read more

4. Battles, Massacres, Parades

pdf iconDownload PDF (293.1 KB)
pp. 73-96

In 1886 William Todd, who had served in Company B, Seventy-Ninth Regiment, New York State Militia (the ?Highlanders?), recalled when and how his unit, consisting mostly of Scots immi-grants or men of Scottish descent, first encountered the USCT. In July 1862, when General David Hunter was recruiting and training what became the First South Carolina Volunteers, the Highlanders, ...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (237.5 KB)
pp. 97-118

At two o?clock on Wednesday, April 19, 1865, five days follow-ing President Abraham Lincoln?s assassination, Washington?s church bells tolled. A hearse drawn by six gray horses carried the dead president?s body in the two-hour-long funeral procession down the open cof_f_in was to lie in state in the Rotunda. Three hundred men of the Twenty-Second USCT, a battle-tested regiment recruited ...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (173.6 KB)
pp. 119-120

...and Richard W. Etulain for inviting me to write this book. Their comments proved invaluable, as did those of an anonymous reader. Barbara Martin and Wayne Larsen of Southern Illinois University Press rallied to my support at a critical juncture, and Kathleen Kageff expertly copyedited the manuscript. Jane Henderson prepared the ...


pdf iconDownload PDF (367.4 KB)
pp. 121-148


pdf iconDownload PDF (269.5 KB)
pp. 149-156

About the Author, Further Reading, Back Cover

pdf iconDownload PDF (353.3 KB)
pp. 169-171

E-ISBN-13: 9780809332915
E-ISBN-10: 0809332914
Print-ISBN-13: 9780809332908
Print-ISBN-10: 0809332906

Page Count: 160
Publication Year: 2013