I know that Africans ( former slaves) were used on both sides during the civil war (later in the north than in the south I think) now my question is this: how were the African soldiers equipped during the civil war, or did they have different equipment period during the civil war?

2 Answers 2


You can find an interesting article at the National Archives site discussing the use of Black Soldiers in the U.S. Military During the Civil War. Though originally banned from service, this was changed and

By the end of the Civil War, roughly 179,000 black men (10% of the Union Army) served as soldiers in the U.S. Army and another 19,000 served in the Navy. Nearly 40,000 black soldiers died over the course of the war—30,000 of infection or disease. Black soldiers served in artillery and infantry and performed all noncombat support functions that sustain an army, as well.

Though there was discrimination such as pay differences, the main part of your question concerning the equipment is addressed in the article:

Black soldiers received the same rations and supplies. In addition, they received comparable medical care.


United States Colored Troops were mostly auxiliaries, with few regiments as regular troops

You could find very informative article on Wikipedia. As you could see, there was a high percent of fatalities among them, but only 2751 combat casualties. Those casualties were mostly suffered by real combat regiments like 54th Massachusetts. Those regiments were armed and equipped like other regular Union Army regiments.

What about rest of them ? Auxiliary troops were usually given old and worn uniforms and poor equipment. They mostly served as engineers (i.e. dug trenches and built other fortifications) , served as rear security etc ..

As for Confederate Army, they didn't (at least officially) use Blacks as combatants until the very end of war. Yet, there were a lot Black camp followers in Confederate Army doing manual labor. Although this topic is hotly debated and even controversial, those Blacks that served in Confederate Army must have been equally (badly) equipped as their White counterparts, because Confederacy in most cases could not issue proper uniforms and unified weapons to its troops.

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