Ethnicity, Race, and the Military

Photo of African American soldier

Racial and ethnic groups played an important role in both armies during the Civil War. Many black soldiers fought for the North, enraging Southerners on the battlefield. Hispanic soldiers fought on both sides. American Indians acted as scouts and guides, hoping to regain land and freedom if they aided the victors.

Unfortunately, it would be decades before significant numbers of Americans recognized the considerable contributions of ethnic groups that had suffered chronic discrimination and a racial group that had been alternately enslaved, segregated, or ignored for more than 200 years.

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  • Flag of the 22nd United States Colored Troops

    Coming from free states, or straight off of the plantations, freemen or former slaves, thousands of African Americans fought to destroy slavery once and for all with the United States Colored Troops. Despite the skepticism or outright hostility of some whites, these troops played a major role in both defending the Union capital and taking the Confederate one. Read more