From The Library Of 'Life'

African-Americans And The Civil War

In April 1961, Charleston, S.C., commemorated the 100th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. But at the same time, a contemporary war was under way — in the form of the civil rights movement. While white Charlestonians gathered to cheer the fireworks and re-enact the assault on Fort Sumter, certain aspects of the war, i.e. slavery, were largely overshadowed.

On Tuesday, April 12, Charleston will mark the sesquicentennial of the first shots of the war. For some, it's an opportunity to remember all facets of the story. All Things Considered host Melissa Block traveled to Charleston in advance of the 150th anniversary and found that the war is still a source of debate and strong emotions. Listen to the story on Friday's show.

Meanwhile, Life is commemorating African-Americans and the Civil War with a gallery on their site. In addition to many other anniversary photos, these tell the story of the minority population that was, in many ways, at the very crux of the Civil War.

  • By 1865, when this photograph was taken, African-Americans were signing up in record numbers, prompted in part by 1863's Second Battle of Fort Wagner. In that battle, a black infantry regiment, the 54th Massachusetts, fought in an unsuccessful assault on a Confederate bastion. The heroism of the unit became national news, and convinced the Union to begin recruiting black soldiers in greater num...
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    By 1865, when this photograph was taken, African-Americans were signing up in record numbers, prompted in part by 1863's Second Battle of Fort Wagner. In that battle, a black infantry regiment, the 54th Massachusetts, fought in an unsuccessful assault on a Confederate bastion. The heroism of the unit became national news, and convinced the Union to begin recruiting black soldiers in greater numbers.
    Courtesy of Life
  • A black soldier poses with his revolver in 1865.
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    A black soldier poses with his revolver in 1865.
    Buyenlarge/Getty Images/Courtesy of Life
  • Black and white Union soldiers pose together in 1863.
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    Black and white Union soldiers pose together in 1863.
    Buyenlarge/Getty Images/Courtesy of Life
  • Union officers pose with escaped slave children.
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    Union officers pose with escaped slave children.
    Buyenlarge/Getty Images/Courtesy of Life
  • Four freed African-American children sit amid the ruins of Charleston, S.C., in 1865.
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    Four freed African-American children sit amid the ruins of Charleston, S.C., in 1865.
    Buyenlarge/Getty Images/Courtesy of Life
  • A Union Army cook prepares a meal in 1863.
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    A Union Army cook prepares a meal in 1863.
    Buyenlarge/Getty Images/Courtesy of Life

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