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Casualties of War

Soldiers at the siege of Yorktown, including an African American soldier of the 1st Rhode Island Regiment, by Jean-Baptiste-Antoine DeVerger, 1781. (Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection, Brown University)

African Americans have been fighting and sacrificing their lives in every single war fought on behalf of the Americas's including the Revolutionary War which gave rise to democracy and set American colonies free from British rule in 1776 (the 1783 Treaty of Paris made America's independence official).  However, including the Civil War which promised them freedom, it would be a long journey before the African American soldiers would receive recognition, justice and equality from its very own newly founded democratic country, in which they fought so valiantly for.  We have been at the forefront of American democracy domestically and internationally, and as statictics will show, lost a larger percentage of casualties in most wars, than any other ethnicities.  These below findings are only based on the recorded military statistics and do not reflect the thousands and thousands of those enslaved and freed African Americans soldiers enlsited during the Revolutionary war; thru the Civil War, Confederate and Union infrantries, who were not counted and are buried as unkowns in unmarked graves.  African Americans have fought gallantly alongside their fellow American military with the same diligence and determination to maintain freedom of the United States of the Americas and to assist in establishing democracy around the world; from the beginning to the present.

"Blacks also served in the ranks of the allies of the American rebels. Six hundred of the 3,500 French troops who fought to retake Savannah, Georgia, in the fall of 1779 were black freemen and slaves recruited in France’s Caribbean colonies. The Spanish governor of Louisiana, Bernardo de Galvez, also employed black soldiers in his campaign against the British in the Mississippi Valley and along the Gulf Coast.

It is impossible to determine an exact count of the number of blacks who served in the American Revolution. Enlistment records, when preserved—or kept at all—rarely note a soldier’s race. From what information that is available, it appears that about 5,000 of the 300,000 men who joined the ranks of the Continental Army and Navy and state militias were African American—or about one in sixty, or 2 percent of the total. This number is not totally revealing because blacks enlisted for the duration while whites enlisted for shorter periods. Since the rebels never had more than 35,000 soldiers in the field at any one time, it is likely that at times blacks composed 10 percent of the ranks."

Wounded at Savage's Station. This Union hospital was overrun by Confederate troops the day after this image was captured.

Library of Congress

And yet, African Americans are still fighting this imperious internal war of racism that has engulfed our lives and challenged our freedoms in every aspect of American society. Many African American soldiers and veterans of war returned home to face and continue to fight injustices of racial inequality and biases that echo from the mainline of the streets to the beats of the drum along the coast of Niger.  

It is with patriotism, that we as Americans, pay tribute to the unsung African American past and present military service, by learning and understanding it's history; it's casualties of war and the profound impact it has had on maintaining American freedoms despite the struggles endured.  It is with true patriotism that I thank my fathers and mothers, aunts and uncles, grandparents and siblings, and my neighbors whom has sacrificied their lives for the safety and freedom of mine.  It is with patriotism that we pay homage to African Americans along with All American warriors that contunue daily to protect the soils that we all share as Americans.  And it is with patriotism that we contunue to fight the wars of racism that continue to threaten our freedoms in our American democracy through protest, resistance and unity, whether on one knee or walking through our American streets.  Let the sound of freedom ring and the torch of justice continue to march on.  


Below you will find statitics from various content resources attributted to the above as well as other facts.




With the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation in September 1862, African-Americans - both free and runaway slaves - came forward to volunteer for the Union cause in substantial numbers. Beginning in October, approximately 180,000 African-Americans, comprising 163 units, served in the U.S. Army, and 18,000 in the Navy. That month, the 1st Kansas Colored Volunteers repulsed a Confederate attack at Island Mound, Missouri. Men of the U.S.C.T. (United States Colored Troops) units went on to distinguish themselves on battlefields east and west - at Port Hudson, Louisiana; Honey Springs, Oklahoma; Fort Wagner, South Carolina; New Market Heights, Virginia. African Americans constituted 10% of the entire Union Army by the end of the war, and nearly 40,000 died over the course of the war.




Table 3. Active Duty Military Deaths: Race/Ethnicity Summary

(as of July 25, 2009)

Race/Ethnicity Korean War Vietnam Conflict Persian Gulf War

Number of Deaths       F         M         F       M        F        M

American Indian or

Alaska Native              0        104       0       226     0         3

Asian                           0        241       0       139     0         1

Black or African

American                    0      3,075      0     7,243    3        63

Hispanic or Latino      0         306      0            0    0          1

Hispanic or Latino—

One or More Races    0         576     0        350    0        14

More Than One Race

or Unknown                0      2,853    0         204    0          3

Native Hawaiian or

Pacific Islander           0          148   0        229     0          2

White                          2     29,269   8   49,826    12     280

Total                           2      36,572   8  58,217     15    367

Source: Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC), https://www.dmdc.osd.mil/dcas/pages/Documents/RACEOMB-WC.pdf.

Note: Prior to the Korean War, race often went untracked. In the few cases in which race was tracked or

recorded, soldiers were given a choice between some variation of “white” or “black”; categories such as

“Hispanic or Latino,” “Asian,” or “Native American” were not used. “F” indicates female, and “M” indicates male.

In 2010, Census changed Hispanic as a race to an ethnicity. The definition of Hispanic of Latino origin used in the

2010 Census was as follows: “Hispanic or Ltino” refers to a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or

American War and Military Operations Casualties: Lists and Statistics

Congressional Research Service 6

Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race. See Census document. See Overview of

Race and Hispanic Origin: 2010 Census Brief, at http://www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/briefs/c2010br-02.pdf.

a. Percentages of total female or male deaths, divided by ethnicity. For instance, in the Persian Gulf War, 20%

of female deaths were black or African American and 80% of female deaths were white.


Q. When did the Southern states secede from the Union?

South Carolina - December 20, 1860

Mississippi - January 9, 1861

Florida - January 10, 1861

Alabama - January 11, 1861

Georgia - January 19, 1861

Louisiana - January 26, 1861

Texas - February 1, 1861

Virginia - April 17, 1861

Arkansas - May 6, 1861

North Carolina - May 20, 1861

Tennessee - June 8, 1861


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