Editor’s Note: In keeping with the Black History Month theme, ”African Americans In Times Of War,” set forth by the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life And History (ASALH), THE CALL is printing the following article from Listverse.
By Mark Pygas
While most African-American soldiers drafted into the Union Army were discriminated against and confined to colored units, they still played a major role in bringing about a Union victory. Below are 10 African American heroes of the Civil War.
Andre Cailloux was born a slave in 1825 but was freed in 1846. He quickly became a leader within the free Afro-French community of New Orleans. In September 1862, Cailloux joined the Union’s 1st Louisiana Native Guard, being made captain of Company E. His company was considered one of the best-drilled in the regiment.
On May 27, 1863, General Banks led a poorly planned attack on heavily defended Confederate positions at Port Hudson.
Cailloux’s company spearheaded the assault and were ordered on a suicidal charge against enemy sharpshooters. Despite suffering heavy losses, Cailloux inspired his men to persevere, and even led further charges, during which his arm was blown off by cannon fire.
Despite now only having one arm, he continued to lead the charge until he was killed by an artillery shell. His heroism quickly became the stuff of legend, with his funeral attended by thousands and his efforts inspiring many African Americans to enlist.
Born into slavery, Robert Smalls worked as a pilot in the harbor at Charleston. When the Civil War broke out, Robert was assigned to steer the CSS Planter, an armed Confederate military transport. First, he stole the boat while the Planter’s officers were ashore sleeping. Disguising himself as the captain and giving the correct secret signals, he successfully sailed the Planter past five Confederate forts that guarded the port. He then surrendered the ship, as well as a codebook, to the Union vessels that were forming a blockade.
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