Why no integrated Civil War units?

BlueandGrayl

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#81
About 10-15% of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War were black. There was one unit segregated on the Company level: the 1st Rhode Island had separate black and white companies, but they served side by side in the same regiment. The other Continental regiments were either all white or integrated. Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Jersey units were the most integrated -- some with as many as 1/4 of their membership being non-white. No American army was nearly so genuinely integrated until the Korean War.

see: https://www.army.mil/article/97705/black_soldiers_in_the_revolutionary_war
But like leftyhunter mentioned the Patriots were a bit reluctant to use black troops.
 

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John Hartwell

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#82
But like leftyhunter mentioned the Patriots were a bit reluctant to use black troops.
Not enough to reject them outright.
When Washington arrived in Boston to take command in the summer of 1775, he and the southern officers with him were so outraged at seeing so many black faces among the New England Army that became the basis of the Continental Army, that he ordered all recruitment of blacks to stop; and that those already enrolled be put into non-combat roles. In the long run, the states who had to fill the rosters, ignored the order, and sent him integrated regiments. Glad to get them, Washington eventually stopped complaining.

Yes, people were/are racist. But that meant different things at different times. Comparing attitudes and practices of 1780, or 1948, or 2018 doesn't really tell us much about the realities of 1861-5. At best, it tells us that "times change" -- big revelation!
 
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major bill

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#83
About 10-15% of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War were black. There was one unit segregated on the Company level: the 1st Rhode Island had separate black and white companies, but they served side by side in the same regiment. The other Continental regiments were either all white or integrated. Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Jersey units were the most integrated -- some with as many as 1/4 of their membership being non-white. No American army was nearly so genuinely integrated until the Korean War.

see: https://www.army.mil/article/97705/black_soldiers_in_the_revolutionary_war
So blacks were good enough to fight for American freedom, but not good enough to be given freedom.
 

John Hartwell

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#84
So blacks were good enough to fight for American freedom, but not good enough to be given freedom.
Some were. Others weren't. No hard and fast rule, as far as I know. Many of those who served, were already free. The British offered freedom to those who fought for them ... and followed through on it.

Looking at individual cases you'll find a wide range of stories. It's not easy to come up with a solid "general rule." It's probably better not to try.
 
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#85
So blacks were good enough to fight for American freedom, but not good enough to be given freedom.
Some states did allowed blacks to vote and did not have miscegenation laws.
I think Americans tend to think of themselves as a unique subset of human beings. Maybe not so much. Many nations have had segregated militaries some until very recently.
Leftyhunter
 
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#86
Although a few non whites served in a few Union units during g the Civil War, I have not seem where there was even discussions about integrating regimwnts during the Union Army.

I am guessing that the topic was just too controversal for the 1860s. The US military did not end segragated units until over 70 years after the end of the Civil War in 1948.

But what if a Union state would have raised a integrated regiment in 1864? I am assuming the federal government would have refused to accept them. This seems odd as the US Navy had integrated crews even before the Civil War.
Racism
 
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#87
There was virtually no public body or group that was racially integrated. Private groups (e.g., abolitionist societies in the North) might be, but that's about the limit.
Perhaps some abolitionist societies were "integrated", but were blacks treated equally within in them?
 
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#89
The Union Navy was integrated and had been always been integrated. So was the Confederate Navy to an extent. There was a black slave who was a pilot and a warrant officer in the Confederate Navy. He was KIA.
 
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#91
A segregated navy was not practical. In the Chesapeake incident of 1807, 2 of the sailors the British took off the USS Chesapeake as Royal Navy deserters were black. It is possible they were originally runaway slaves who joined the British Navy to get away.

It would be interesting the percent black in the Union and Confederate navies. It is a story that there was a black warrant officer in the Confederate Navy. There probably were other black crew members. Not sure if they were all cooks or whatever.
 
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#92
Depends on what you mean by “integrated”, I suppose?

AFAIK the Navy has always been integrated... though that probably has more to do with the tendency of seamen not to follow societal conventions much and the fact that being a sailor in the old days was little better than being a slave, whatever your color of skin.

Confederate units are no more “racially integrated” than a tank unit is “racially integrated” between tanks and humans, since the CSA at the best still saw them as property that could also be used as a weapon. No offense to those who identify as an M1 Abrams... I’m a Model 1819 6 lber myself.
 
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#93
Racism is a good answer, however, the United States was probably still racist in 1948 when the US military integrated.
Absolutely and I knew a black Marine who told me about the many brawl's between the newly integrated Marines after President Truman's order. My father who was in the US Army in 1965 heard from the older enlisted men about white soldiers who would take out their knives when a black soldier used a certain word that contained the first word as " mother".
On the other hand the US Army and Marines were able to function well during the Korean-War.
The United States Army by no means was the world's first racially integrated army that honor would go to Brazil or maybe Columbia or Venezuela?
Prior to 1948 the US was simply to polarized to have an integrated military.
Leftyhunter
 
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#94
Depends on what you mean by “integrated”, I suppose?

AFAIK the Navy has always been integrated... though that probably has more to do with the tendency of seamen not to follow societal conventions much and the fact that being a sailor in the old days was little better than being a slave, whatever your color of skin.

Confederate units are no more “racially integrated” than a tank unit is “racially integrated” between tanks and humans, since the CSA at the best still saw them as property that could also be used as a weapon. No offense to those who identify as an M1 Abrams... I’m a Model 1819 6 lber myself.
Naval ships are just to small to keep segregated. Even South Africa had an integrated navy of Indians and mixed race sailors.
Leftyhunter
 
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#95
A segregated navy was not practical. In the Chesapeake incident of 1807, 2 of the sailors the British took off the USS Chesapeake as Royal Navy deserters were black. It is possible they were originally runaway slaves who joined the British Navy to get away.

It would be interesting the percent black in the Union and Confederate navies. It is a story that there was a black warrant officer in the Confederate Navy. There probably were other black crew members. Not sure if they were all cooks or whatever.
The general accepted round number estimate of black sailors in the USN was 25%.
Leftyhunter
 
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#97
That maybe true but were they just cooks or did they actually man cannons and board enemy ships?
Leftyhunter
As I mentioned, there was a black slave who was a ship's pilot (had been a civilian pilot before the war), was a warrant officer in the Confederate Navy and was KIA in fighting when Union forces boarded the ship. It is an interesting question what the percent black was on Confederate ships and what their jobs were. It is certainly likely many were cooks and such.
 
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#98
Racism is a good answer, however, the United States was probably still racist in 1948 when the US military integrated.
The thing is, not all racism is the same. Racist behaviors and beliefs exists on a continuum... some racist behaviors and beliefs are objectively worse than others. For example: a racist who says she will never vote for any African American who runs for office is not as bad as a racist who says he will kill any African American who tries to vote. Neither one of these behaviors is considered "good" but the use of murder by the second person to achieve a racist goal is certainly "worse."

Simply put, the politics of the early war period did not allow for white politicians in most of the North to allow or embrace black enlistment. This is from the book Soldiering for Freedom: How the Union Army Recruited, Trained, and Deployed by Bob Luke, John David Smith:

White Man's government.png


Another factor is in play here: state governor's had the power to control who could be enlisted. The governors of several states were not willing, early in the war, to allow black enlistment as soldiers (although they did allow blacks to enlisted as cooks, for example). Massachusetts did allow black soldier enlistment after the Emancipation Proclamation; many of its soldiers were from NY, OH, and PA, which did not allow black enlistment early on.

Eventually, even states like Ohio, New York and Pennsylvania allowed black enlistment, if only to meet state recruitment goals. But there was still the fear that integrated units would "drive every white man out of service," as Ohio governor Tod had said. Integration was not just bad politics, but it also threatened to hurt the enlistment effort.

When Truman integrated the US army, his orders could not be countermanded by state governors. Meanwhile, Truman the politician was apparently not as fearful of the consequences of his actions as those in the CW era. I don't think Truman's integration order would have been politically tenable in the 1860s.

- Alan
 
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The thing is, not all racism is the same. Racist behaviors and beliefs exists on a continuum... some racist behaviors and beliefs are objectively worse than others. For example: a racist who says she will never vote for any African American who runs for office is not as bad as a racist who says he will kill any African American who tries to vote. Neither one of these behaviors is considered "good" but the use of murder by the second person to achieve a racist goal is certainly "worse."

Simply put, the politics of the early war period did not allow for white politicians in most of the North to allow or embrace black enlistment. This is from the book Soldiering for Freedom: How the Union Army Recruited, Trained, and Deployed by Bob Luke, John David Smith:

View attachment 293232

Another factor is in play here: state governor's had the power to control who could be enlisted. The governors of several states were not willing, early in the war, to allow black enlistment as soldiers (although they did allow blacks to enlisted as cooks, for example). Massachusetts did allow black soldier enlistment after the Emancipation Proclamation; many of its soldiers were from NY, OH, and PA, which did not allow black enlistment early on.

Eventually, even states like Ohio, New York and Pennsylvania allowed black enlistment, if only to meet state recruitment goals. But there was still the fear that integrated units would "drive every white man out of service," as Ohio governor Tod had said. Integration was not just bad politics, but it also threatened to hurt the enlistment effort.

When Truman integrated the US army, his orders could not be countermanded by state governors. Meanwhile, Truman the politician was apparently not as fearful of the consequences of his actions as those in the CW era. I don't think Truman's integration order would have been politically tenable in the 1860s.

- Alan
Also @major bill ,
Integrated armies some times work and sometimes don't work out well. Plenty of examples about that but it's modern politics.
Integrated armies may or may not imply racial equality in society.
Brazil,Cuba and the United States would be good examples.
Leftyhunter
 



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