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Southern Heritage Advancement Preservation and Education :: Forums :: General :: Did You Know
 
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United States Colored Troops Casualties
Moderators: gpthelastrebel, Patrick
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gpthelastrebel
Tue Mar 31 2009, 12:54PM

Registered Member #1
Joined: Tue Jul 17 2007, 10:46AM
Posts: 3462
Recently I read an article where a person was going on and on about the bravery and sacrifice and the number of United States Colored Troops (USCT) killed in battle during the War for Southern Independence. I am not questioning any soldier's bravery; however I became curious as to the number of men who actually sacrificed all in battle from these units. I began an online search and what I found was a bit surprising. I find that these troops suffered quite a bit less men killed in action(KIA) than most people are willing to admit, at least as I can find them.

Using research found on many sites that honor these USCT, I found very few that mention any solids numbers for losses or the battles that the USCT actually participated in. I found this website "Pennsylvania in the Civil War" at http://www.pa-roots.com/pacw/usct/foxes.htm which uses references to Fox, William F., Lt. Colonel, U. S. Volunteers, Regimental Losses in The American Civil War, 1861-1865. Albany, NY: Brandow Printing Company, 1898. Chapter IV. pp. 52-56.( for their numbers, but it seems they enhance the number of battles the USCT engaged in. A comparison of battles can be made online with Fox's report found online at http://www.civilwarhome.com/chapt6.htm

I seldom use Wikipedia as a source unless alternate sources can be found; however in this case it seems that historian James McPherson adds substance to Fox's numbers.

United States Colored Troops
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._Colored_Troops

There were 2,751 USCT combat casualties during the war, and 68,178 losses from all causes.[3]

3. Cornish, The Sable Arm, p. 288; McPherson, The Negro's Civil War, p. 237.

It is not my intention to diminish the sacrifice of anyone’s ancestors but to simply post the facts. If you can provide number and sources that dispute what I have posted, please do so,

GP


[ Edited Tue Mar 31 2009, 12:55PM ]
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Lady Val
Tue Mar 31 2009, 08:22PM
Registered Member #75
Joined: Sat Nov 01 2008, 11:22AM
Posts: 475
The use of "colored" troops was problematic. The famous film, Glory, shows the colored regiment under Lowell making a frontal assault on a position that was so strong that it never fell during the war! The casualty rate was very high, obviously. One has to wonder if the choice of that regiment was as portrayed - a reward for its prior valor - or if the colored soldiers were simply cannon fodder to see if the position could be taken! If it was in fact a reward, I question the judgment of whoever considered it to be so! With friends like that, you don't need enemies.

Then, several months ago at our local CWRT, a fellow spoke about Italians in the Union army and the Battle of the Crater came up. According to him, Burnside's plan was solid and should have resulted in an overwhelming victory but a problem arose when Grant learned that Burnside was sending the colored regiment first after the explosion. These soldiers had been shown where to move around the damage done by blowing up the earthworks so that they would come upon the Confederates quickly, while they were still stunned and relatively helpless. Grant refused to allow the blacks to take "center stage" and demanded that a white regiment be first into the battle instead.

Unfortunately for the Yankees, the white troops had not been trained as had the colored and the chosen contingent marched into rather than around the crater. Of course, as they sank into the loose sand, they became sitting ducks for the surviving Confederates. By the time Burnside sent the colored troops into battle, Mahone had come up with his cavalry and the colored troops had no chance at all.

In this case, it was Grant who determined that he would not permit the colored troops to gain glory rather than their white counterparts and his interference in probably the only good plan Burnside ever had, led to a terrible slaughter. Of course, the Yankees were in a position to replace every soldier many times over while the Confederates were not. Once Bobby Lee lost a man, there was little or nothing left to replace him.
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gpthelastrebel
Wed Apr 01 2009, 11:19AM

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Joined: Tue Jul 17 2007, 10:46AM
Posts: 3462
Val,

I have read that scenario at the Crater also, but since I had very few relatives fight in the ANV, I know very little about those campaigns. I do know that it did not seem to bother Grant to lose men. This is witnessed by his loses at Vicksburg where he tried 5times to take that city. In the end it would be lack of supplies that caused Pemberton to surrender.

"Of course, the Yankees were in a position to replace every soldier many times over while the Confederates were not"


I found this website hosted by the VA that gives some interesting figures for all wars. It is not broken down by race but it does show the makeup and loses of each army. I did not see a source listed and I am a bit skeptical of the number of Confederates shown to have served especially since sometimes a one man would have served in 3 different units and would be listed more than three times. Add these factors to the loss and destruction of records and the number could be plus or minus what the VA posts.

http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0004615.html

Civil War (1861–1865)
Total service members (Union) 2,213,363
Battle deaths (Union) 140,414
Other deaths in service (nontheater) (Union) 224,097
Nonmortal woundings (Union) 281,881
Total service members (Conf.) 1,050,000
Battle deaths (Conf.) 74,524
Other deaths in service (nontheater) (Conf.) 59,2972
Nonmortal woundings (Conf.) unknown

GP




[ Edited Wed Apr 01 2009, 11:20AM ]
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Lady Val
Wed Apr 01 2009, 02:49PM
Registered Member #75
Joined: Sat Nov 01 2008, 11:22AM
Posts: 475
First, let me apologize for calling Robert Gould Shaw by the names of one of his cousins (I believe) Lowell. They were all interbred up there. Talk about inbred Southrons! The Yankees from New England were all related!

Secondly, they can talk about Grant vs. Lee till the cows come home, but I don't think any judgment could be realistically made unless you either gave Lee Grant's unrestricted men, material and infrastructure or Grant Lee's limitations. Only then could a realistic assessment be made.

But I'm not talking about Grant not wanting to lose men. I'm talking about him forcing Burnside to scrap a good plan to avoid black soldiers getting any possible credit for a Union victory - and as a result, ending up with a bloodbath that should have been a victory.
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gpthelastrebel
Thu Apr 02 2009, 12:33PM

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Joined: Tue Jul 17 2007, 10:46AM
Posts: 3462
Did grant out rank Burnside? How was he able to force this change of plans?

No doubt the number of men and material was onn the side of the North as proven by the stats posted above. The Anaconda plan did work in choking off supplies to the Southern armys.

GP

[ Edited Thu Apr 02 2009, 02:15PM ]
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8milereb
Thu Apr 02 2009, 12:58PM

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Joined: Thu Jul 19 2007, 11:39AM
Posts: 1030
Grant outranked Meade and Burnside. The plan was doomed from the start, however, due to Meade's interference on the day before the battle. Burnside had trained a division of United States Colored TroopsUnited States Colored Troops
The United States Colored Troops were regiments of the United States Army during the American Civil War which were made up of African-American soldiers....
(USCT) under Brig. Gen. Edward FerreroEdward Ferrero
Edward Ferrero was one of the leading dance instructors, choreographers, and ballroom operators in the United States....to lead the assault. They were trained to move around the edges of the crater and then fan out to extend the breach in the Confederate line. Then, Burnside's two other divisions, made up of white troops, would move in, supporting Ferrero's flanks and race for Petersburg itself.

Meade, who lacked confidence in the operation, ordered Burnside not to use the black troops in the lead assault, thinking the attack would fail and the black soldiers would be killed needlessly, creating political repercussions in the North. Burnside protested to General Grant, who sided with Meade. Burnside selected a replacement white division by having the commanders draw lots. Brig. Gen. James H. LedlieJames H. Ledlie
James Hewett Ledlie was a civil engineer for United States railroads and a general in the Union Army during the American Civil War....
's 1st Division was selected, but he failed to brief the men on what was expected of them and was reported during the battle to be drunk, well behind the lines, and providing no leadership. (Ledlie would be dismissed for his actions during the battle.)
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8milereb
Thu Apr 02 2009, 01:05PM

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Joined: Thu Jul 19 2007, 11:39AM
Posts: 1030
The Confederates reported losses of 1,032 men in the battle, while Union losses were estimated at 5,300, about half of which were from Ferrero's division. Five hundred Union prisoners were taken, and 150 of these prisoners were USCT. Both the black and white wounded prisoners were taken to the Confederate hospital at Poplar Lawn in Petersburg. Burnside was relieved of command. Although he was as responsible for the defeat as Burnside, Meade escaped censure. As for Mahone, the victory, won largely due to his efforts in supporting Johnson's stunned men, earned him a lasting reputation as one of the best young generals of Lee's army in the war's last year.

Grant wrote to Chief of Staff Henry W. Halleck, "It was the saddest affair I have witnessed in this war."
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gpthelastrebel
Thu Apr 02 2009, 02:20PM

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Joined: Tue Jul 17 2007, 10:46AM
Posts: 3462
Ok I am confused!!! I thought the USCT instead of going around the edges of the Crater went up the middle by mistake. How did the white troops get behind the USCT and bayonet them from behind? is this just a tall tale or is it fact???

GP
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gpthelastrebel
Fri Sep 11 2015, 12:01PM

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Joined: Tue Jul 17 2007, 10:46AM
Posts: 3462

Black Men in Blue Under Fire:



“About 43 percent of the 6th [US Colored Infantry] Regiment had volunteered for military service. Another 31 percent were drafted, and over one-quarter of the regiment were listed as “substitute.” A conscriptee could avoid military service if he furnished an able-bodied substitute to take his place. Most substitutes in this regiment were young, usually in their twenties. A youth might well agree to be a substitute; he might likely be drafted anyway; better to join and accept a substantial cash payment for taking someone’s place.



The soldiers hailed from twenty-three different State, both North and South, as well as the District of Columbia. The most common State of birth was Pennsylvania. Of those whose birthplace is listed, over 36 percent of the men of the 6th Regiment claimed Pennsylvania as their birth place. Delaware and Maryland claimed 16 and 15 percent respectively, and Virginia, another 12 percent. Canada, providing twenty-two soldiers, stood as the most frequent birthplace of any foreign nation. Like most black units, the 6th Regiment would be assigned to an unusually amount of physical labor particularly at building fortifications.



From the time blacks had first been recruited it generally had been understood that they were to serve as laborers, and they were used disproportionately often in that role. Their work at Dutch Gap [Virginia] would have been physically demanding under the best of circumstances, but this assignment included a complication that made it especially difficult and dangerous – they would have to do the [canal digging] work within range of Confederate artillery.



They burrowed into the steep walls of the canal to make caves for shelter [but the] mortar shells were deadly. They were fired high into the air “and then fell by their own weight, with no warning scream, and, dropping in the midst of busy groups, burst into raged fragments of iron, which maimed and killed.”



Union artillery was brought in to silence those mortars, but its task was nearly impossible . . . [as] they would try to direct their fire at [mortar positions] . . . Confederate sharpshooters stationed in hiding near the riverbank would open fire on the artillery crews and distract them from their task.”



(Strike the Blow for Freedom, The 6th US Colored Infantry in the Civil War, James M. Paradis, White Mane Books, 1998, pp. 34-35, 61-64)
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gpthelastrebel
Fri Sep 11 2015, 12:05PM

Registered Member #1
Joined: Tue Jul 17 2007, 10:46AM
Posts: 3462

Black Men in Blue Under Fire:



“About 43 percent of the 6th [US Colored Infantry] Regiment had volunteered for military service. Another 31 percent were drafted, and over one-quarter of the regiment were listed as “substitute.” A conscriptee could avoid military service if he furnished an able-bodied substitute to take his place. Most substitutes in this regiment were young, usually in their twenties. A youth might well agree to be a substitute; he might likely be drafted anyway; better to join and accept a substantial cash payment for taking someone’s place.



The soldiers hailed from twenty-three different State, both North and South, as well as the District of Columbia. The most common State of birth was Pennsylvania. Of those whose birthplace is listed, over 36 percent of the men of the 6th Regiment claimed Pennsylvania as their birth place. Delaware and Maryland claimed 16 and 15 percent respectively, and Virginia, another 12 percent. Canada, providing twenty-two soldiers, stood as the most frequent birthplace of any foreign nation. Like most black units, the 6th Regiment would be assigned to an unusually amount of physical labor particularly at building fortifications.



From the time blacks had first been recruited it generally had been understood that they were to serve as laborers, and they were used disproportionately often in that role. Their work at Dutch Gap [Virginia] would have been physically demanding under the best of circumstances, but this assignment included a complication that made it especially difficult and dangerous – they would have to do the [canal digging] work within range of Confederate artillery.



They burrowed into the steep walls of the canal to make caves for shelter [but the] mortar shells were deadly. They were fired high into the air “and then fell by their own weight, with no warning scream, and, dropping in the midst of busy groups, burst into raged fragments of iron, which maimed and killed.”



Union artillery was brought in to silence those mortars, but its task was nearly impossible . . . [as] they would try to direct their fire at [mortar positions] . . . Confederate sharpshooters stationed in hiding near the riverbank would open fire on the artillery crews and distract them from their task.”



(Strike the Blow for Freedom, The 6th US Colored Infantry in the Civil War, James M. Paradis, White Mane Books, 1998, pp. 34-35, 61-64)
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