Default Learn USCT
Civil War
Lesson Plan

United States Colored Troops

You are here

Who were the 200,000 African American Freedom Fighters?

Grades: Middle School

Length of Time: Approximately 1 week

Goals: Students will understand the diverse background of the approximately 200,000 African American soldiers and sailors whom served in the Union Army and Navy.


  1. Given handouts, students will be able to answer questions in regards to the handouts in either written or oral formats.
  2. Given a primary document, students will be able to gather critical information in regards to the person who wrote the letter and present it in an oral or written form.

Materials Used:

Download the lesson plan, along with the following materials, at the bottom of this page.

  • Handout 1 – Free African American Population 1860
  • Handout 2 – Slave Population 1860
  • Handout 3 – United States Colored USCT Troops (recruited from free states)
  • Handout 4 – USCT (recruits from slave states)
  • Handout 5 – Robert Pinn Letter (side 1)
  • Handout 6 – Robert Pinn Letter (side 2)
  • Robert Pinn Photograph
  • Script for Teacher

Anticipatory Set/Hook:

Do you think that African Americans fought during the American Civil War?  Where do you think they came from?  How many do you think fought?


Provide students with the handouts given below and follow the procedures listed on the Script for Teachers.


Did the areas where African American soldiers were recruited from surprise you?  Do you think the locations they came from had something to do with why they joined the army?  Do you think these soldiers made a major difference in the outcome of the American Civil War?


Students will be graded based on how well they answer questions on the handouts and primary documents.