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Friday, May 18, 2012

Civil War Photo Friday: Black Sailor

A couple of days ago wargamer, blogger, and Canadian army chaplain Mad Padre asked me about black sailors in the Union Navy, so for this week's Civil War Photo Friday I'm showing this young fellow.

About 18,000 blacks served in the U.S. Navy during the Civil War. An unknown number also served in the Continental Navy during the American Revolution. Interestingly, the Navy was not officially segregated, although some individual commanders made the white and black crewmen eat and sleep separately. The Navy wasn't segregated until 1913, when President Woodrow Wilson ordered it to be.

There's not much information about this sailor, unfortunately--no name, no exact date. It's sad that so many of these old photographs have lost their context.

Photo courtesy Library of Congress.


  1. President Wilson was both a visionary (League of Nations) and a first-class jerk (Birth of a Nation).

  2. We'll never know his identity - sad.


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