United States Colored Troops

107th Colored Troops
New York Public Library

United States Colored Troops

The Role of African Americans in the U.S. Army

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The United States Colored Troops (USCT) was the embodiment of that Frederick Douglass’s belief that “he who would be free must himself strike the blow."  Approximately 180,000 men -- many former slaves -- volunteered to fight in the Union army; nearly 40,000 gave their lives for the cause.  With every engagement they fought in, African-Americans time and again proved their mettle.   At Port Hudson in Louisiana, Fort Wagner in South Carolina, Chaffin's Farm in Virginia, and elsewhere, USCT units displayed courage under fire and won glory on the field of battle.  By the end of the war, African-Americans accounted for 10% of the Union Army.    The USCT was a watershed in African-American history, and one of the first major strides towards equal civil rights.