Sixteen months after the start of the American Civil War, the Federal government, having vastly underestimated the length and manpower demands of the war, began to recruit black soldiers. This revolutionary policy gave 180,000 free blacks and former slaves the opportunity to prove themselves on the battlefield as part of the United States Colored Troops. By the end of the war, 37,000 in their ranks had given their lives for the cause of freedom. In Forged in Battle, originally published in 1990, award-winning historian Joseph T. Glatthaar re-creates the events that gave these troops and their 7,000 white officers justifiable pride in their contributions to the Union victory and hope of equality in the years to come. Unfortunately, as Glatthaar poignantly demonstrates, memory of the United States Colored Troops’ heroic sacrifices soon faded behind the prejudice that would plague the armed forces for another century.
Joseph T. Glatthaar is a professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the author of several books, including The Civil War’s Black Soldiers, Partners in Command: Relationships Between Civil War Leaders and Forged in Battle: The Civil War Alliance of Black Soldiers and White Officers.
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