So Fine a Set of Men: The Influence of Race Relations Between Civil War Soldiers and the Shift in Perspective

Matthew Feiler, Dr. Kathrine Mooney, Department of History, Florida State University, 600 W College Ave, Tallahassee, FL 32306

It took centuries for African Americans to gain the same rights as Caucasians, and for many African Americans, serving in the United States’ military was their only option to gain freedom and rights. This research aims to present the relationships blacks had with white soldiers in the Union army, and the shift in perspective white soldiers had towards blacks as the Civil War progressed. To present this shift in sentiment, as well as, the motivations of black soldiers, primary documents in the form of letters were used, and a number of secondary sources from experts in the field of the Civil War. Lincoln’s public speeches are presented alongside these primary and secondary sources as a mirror of public sentiment at the time, most importantly, the soldiers themselves. Using these sources, a shift in treatment was shown (for a majority of white soldiers), shifting from treating black soldiers essentially like slaves to giving them respect for the valiance they continuously showed in battle. What separates this research from others, however, is the analysis of black soldiers, and their motivations for fighting and how it correlated with the shift in perspective for white soldiers. Through the efforts of particular black regiments, black soldiers were able to prove themselves militarily and began shifting the perspectives of the white soldiers and officers they served under. This shift, presented by a variety of primary and secondary sources, proved to be beneficial in black soldiers in their efforts to claim equality. 

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Matthew Feiler

Institution: Florida State University

Type: Poster

Subject: History

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 7
Date/Time: Tue 3:30pm-4:30pm
Session Number: 5156