Sunday, August 26, 2012

No Black Veterans in the Army of Emancipation Grand Review

No Black Veterans in the Army of Emancipation Grand Review
The Grand Review of the North's conquering armies in Washington in May, 1865 failed to showcase the people they ostensibly liberated, and took into their ranks so white Northerners could stay home. Read more about "The Myth of Saving the Union" at
Bernhard Thuersam, Chairman
North Carolina War Between the States Sesquicentennial Commission
"The Official Website of the North Carolina WBTS Sesquicentennial"
No Black Veterans in the Army of Emancipation Grand Review:
"More surprising [in the Washington Grand Review of the federal armies] was the exclusion from the parade of the black Union regiments, some of which had fought a good deal longer than the white units on parade.  A number of observers commented on their absence, the Inquirer concluding that "by some process it was arranged that none should be here….They can afford to wait.  Their time will yet come."
The few blacks in the review marched as parts of "pick and shovel" brigades or were included as comic relief. Two large black soldiers with Sherman's army, for example, were displayed "riding on very small mules, their feet nearly touching the ground."
Captured slaves were described as "odd looking "contrabands" dressed in all the colors that ever adorned Joseph's coat."  In the rear of the First Pennsylvania, one such captive, mounted on a solitary Confederate mule, "created much laughter, in which the President and others joined heartily" as he was carried past the reviewing stand.
Neither the free black nor the free black soldier was to be the hero of this national pageant; instead, each was relegated a secondary, rather uneasy position within it.  The exclusion of blacks from the celebration was a clear message about the sort of Union the white [Northern] veterans felt they had preserved."  (Glorious Contentment, The Grand Army of the Republic, Stuart McConnell, UNC Press, 1992, pp. 8-9)