Black Soldiers in Blue

African American Troops in the Civil War Era

Edited by John David Smith

478 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 25 illus., 8 maps, notes, index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-5579-9
    Published: August 2004
  • eBook ISBN: 978-0-8078-7599-5
    Published: October 2005

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Awards & distinctions

A 2003 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

Inspired and informed by the latest research in African American, military, and social history, the fourteen original essays in this book tell the stories of the African American soldiers who fought for the Union cause.

An introductory essay surveys the history of the U.S. Colored Troops (USCT) from emancipation to the end of the Civil War. Seven essays focus on the role of the USCT in combat, chronicling the contributions of African Americans who fought at Port Hudson, Milliken's Bend, Olustee, Fort Pillow, Petersburg, Saltville, and Nashville. Other essays explore the recruitment of black troops in the Mississippi Valley; the U.S. Colored Cavalry; the military leadership of Colonels Thomas Higginson, James Montgomery, and Robert Shaw; African American chaplain Henry McNeal Turner; the black troops who occupied postwar Charleston; and the experiences of USCT veterans in postwar North Carolina. Collectively, these essays probe the broad military, political, and social significance of black soldiers' armed service, enriching our understanding of the Civil War and African American life during and after the conflict.

The contributors are Anne J. Bailey, Arthur W. Bergeron Jr., John Cimprich, Lawrence Lee Hewitt, Richard Lowe, Thomas D. Mays, Michael T. Meier, Edwin S. Redkey, Richard Reid, William Glenn Robertson, John David Smith, Noah Andre Trudeau, Keith Wilson, and Robert J. Zalimas Jr.

About the Author

John David Smith is the Charles H. Stone Distinguished Professor of American History at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

For more information about John David Smith, visit the Author Page.


"A thoughtful and thorough book about African American soldiers during and after the Civil War. . . . This book has a great deal to offer both the general reader and the dedicated student of the Civil War. I recommend it highly."--Journal of Southern History

"Smith is one of the first to assemble a collection of contemporary essays that take in all sides of . . . the complex and often controversial issue [of Federal regiments during the Civil War]."--Kliatt

"This volume contributes fresh insight into the black military experience. Students of the Civil War no less than those of the African-American military experience will find value in this collection."--Journal of Military History

"This superb anthology of uniformly interesting essays successfully raises interest in the vital role and varied experiences of African Americans in the U.S. Army during the Civil War."--Military Heritage

"A worthwhile read."--NYMAS Review

"This collection of essays is a fine addition to the literature on the subject."--North & South