African Americans in the Union Navy | American Battlefield Trust
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Partner Event

African Americans in the Union Navy

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Partner Event
July 16, 2020

The CWRT Congress proudly presents a new series of Civil War lectures called Historian Thursdays. These lectures are both entertaining and inspiring. We will see you in the zoom lecture hall!!

In our study of the Rebellion, the story of African Americans in the Navy is assumed to be the same as that of the blacks who enlisted in the Union Army. This could not be further from the truth. In reality, sailors enjoyed a rare equality no matter their race. While individual acts of racism certainly occurred, the Navy, unlike the Army, imposed no institutional racial biases. Sailors were paid based on rating rather than race; ships were integrated; crews fought and worked side-by-side; all received the same medical care; and the bonuses of prize money were shared out evenly. At peak, black sailors made up a full 25% of the fleet, with some squadrons being upwards of 35% African Americans. This is a surprising and enlightening presentation on a facet of the war that is largely overlooked.