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NPS History E-LibraryScene in Antietam National Cemetery in Sharpsburg, Maryland
 
 

Civil War Series

The Civil War's Black Soldiers

   

INFERIOR WEAPONS

Since so many high-ranking officers cared little for black soldiers, they or subordinate staff members did not hesitate to issue them malfunctioning or substandard weapons and animals. Such materiel never would have been issued to white units at this late stage of the war.

The problem transcended geographic and administrative boundaries and surfaced in each branch of service. Black artillery batteries had unusable guns or lacked proper equipment several months after entering the service. Infantry regiments in the USCT received defective rifled muskets and antiquated smoothbore muskets, which military authorities never would have asked white soldiers to use in 1864 and 1865. In late 1864, one black regiment occupied front-line works around Petersburg, and 40 percent of them had weapons that could not fire because of manufacturing defects. In some black regiments the hodgepodge of muskets with varying calibers made ammunition supply a nightmare and undoubtedly cost lives in combat.

MANY BLACK SOLDIERS HAD TO CONTEND WITH MALFUNCTIONING OR SUBSTANDARD WEAPONS. (OHIO HISTORICAL SOCIETY)

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