Early Wars in America

African Americans during the Revolutionary War

Moore, G. H., 1823-1892. Historical notes on the employment of Negroes in the American army of the revolution New York: C.T. Evans, 1862.
This brief publication, written by historian and librarian George Henry Moore during the Civil War, provides insights on the government and military debates regarding the employment of African Americans, enslaved and free, during the Revolutionary War. This chart was taken from an official record. It contains information about African American soldiers under the immediate command of General Washington.

"Come and Join Us Brothers," 1863

"Come and Join Us Brothers," 1863 in Picture File.

After President Lincoln's announcement that the federal government would allow the enlistment of African American soldiers, the Northern Army began recruitment efforts. This is one of their recruitment posters for African Americans.

Sergeant, U.S. Army, circa 1860s (colored tintype)

Colored tintype, circa 1860s in the Picture File, 1600- 1979.



Three Soldiers, 1890

Cabinet card of African American soldiers, 1890, African American photograph collection.

The image of three Buffalo Soldiers shows these men in the uniform of that period. The term, Buffalo Soldier, was a name first applied to the Black cavalry units at the close of the Civil War. It later became a common term used for all African American soldiers.

During both the wars of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, African Americans fought to gain their own freedom and to claim the rights and privileges of American citizens.  Only a few African Americans left personal records of their experiences in the military.