Roles of African American Men and Women in the Civil War and the Reactions to Them

Issues relating to emancipation and military service were complicated and intertwined throughout the Civil War. The case of the role of African Americans has equally been of significance in assessing the trends about the progress of the war. The published sources discuss the roles Black men and women served on the battlefield in the Civil War. The scholars focus on the position that the men and women played to identify that the battlefield had almost been an exclusively black-dominated arena, as opposed to the perceived notion. During the Civil War, men played both combatant and non-combatant roles. At the same time, the African American women were mainly significant because of their supportive and nursing responsibilities, and they provided care to the soldiers.

The roles that men played during the Civil War were contextualized mainly in acting as soldiers. The enrollment of African Americans on the battlefield was relatively slow until influential figures such as Frederick Douglass convinced the men to enroll to be recognized as full citizens. It meant that when the Civil War came to an end, many black men had fallen victim to the bloodshed, and 179,000 became a part of the Union Army. The figure was an estimated 10 percent of the entire Union Army membership who served as soldiers in the military. At least 40,000 African American soldiers died during the war, with 30,000 succumbing to infection and disease. Many other black men served in the artillery and infantry.

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Apart from acting as soldiers, the African American men were also required to serve many manual laborer jobs. The most relevant examples were non-combat positions such as cooks, chaplains, scouts, and laborers. It is also reported that approximately 80 black commissioned officers served in the war. The reason for some of the men not being used was because the black units were victims of prejudice. The prejudice led to many being oppressed. The segregated units were established with the African American men enlisted and commanded by the white officers. It thus created the impression that the men were segregated and the roles that they would be given were primarily because of what the white officers perceive of them. Nevertheless, the men still played a crucial role in forming the military and served with determination in the battles.

It is also worth exploring the women’s role during the Civil War as the African Americans became a key part of the war. A critical feature that characterized women who engaged in the battlefield at the time, according to the author, was the role of nursing the injured soldiers and being economically productive. African American women were critical for the social role that they engaged in as they were willing to acts spies. Many other scholars emphasize a unique role that some played involving being detectives on the battlefields and providing crucial information to their united kingdoms and nations. Harriet Tubman is the most accomplished of those who used to participate in the role, with particular reference to the women based on the finding that she was an African-American woman. She is one of many who is said to have initially been a nurse, just as many other women would begin their careers on the battlefield but managed to work her way up from her unique personality. She could change quickly from a male to a female character and would be found wearing clothes that were not specific to any gender. The primary sources were produced in the nineteenth century and featured the analysis of the various women who played significant roles and have since been celebrated for their efforts to act as an inspiration to the present-day generation of American women.

It is also critical to describe the reactions to the African American men and women’s responsibilities during the war. The target audience in the coverage of the role of African Americans in the Civil War includes the population of the present generation who need to learn from those who excelled in history. Such personalities were treasured for their role because they provided comfort to the injured and those who were dying, as in the case of the women. As a result, scholars highlight that the veterans and women were treated as important. Other designations were used to refer to such people, with the coining of “Mother” being particularly common. The unique role for women and men on the battlefield was significant because not many had received training in the treatment processes because only the Catholic women were conversant with modern treatment techniques.

In summary, it is important to note, therefore, that the assessment of the roles played by African men and women during the Civil War is helpful to the present generation as a way of describing the history of oppression. It serves to enlighten the reader, and who are possible historians, that they need to appreciate the African American men and women in history regardless of their roles. In the political scene, the inference is that African American men and women were striving to rise to higher positions, as noted with those who grew from nurses to spies. The target audience that the audience intends to inform this case is the human rights activists and lobbyists fighting for minority rights and who deserve to be informed that most of the successful men and women in history thrived when there was much oppression. It also serves as a challenge to the young minds to be creative and productive in the community given the resources they have because many minority populations in history were never given many resources to thrive. The review thus builds on the existing body of literature on the role that African American men and women played, relevant to historians.



Fitzgerald, Michael W., and Edwin S. Redkey. “A Grand Army of Black Men: Letters from African-American Soldiers in the Union Army, 1861-1865.” The History Teacher 27, no. 2 (1994): 239-240.

Forbes, Ella. African American Women During the Civil War. African American Women During the Civil War. New York, NY: Routledge, 2012.

Harper, Judith E. Women During the Civil War. Women During the Civil War. New York, NY: Routledge, 2003.

Marszalek, John F., and Noah Andre Trudeau. “Like Men of War: Black Troops in the Civil War, 1862-1865.” The New England Quarterly 72, no. 3 (1999): 507-509.