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Inspired and informed by the latest research in African American, military, and social history, the fourteen original essays in this book tell the stories of the African American soldiers who fought for the Union cause. An introductory essay surveys the history of the U.S. Colored Troops (USCT) from emancipation to the end of the Civil War. Seven essays focus on the role of the USCT in combat, chronicling the contributions of African Americans who fought at Port Hudson, Milliken's Bend, Olustee, Fort Pillow, Petersburg, Saltville, and Nashville. Other essays explore the recruitment of black troops in the Mississippi Valley; the U.S. Colored Cavalry; the military leadership of Colonels Thomas Higginson, James Montgomery, and Robert Shaw; African American chaplain Henry McNeal Turner; the black troops who occupied postwar Charleston; and the experiences of USCT veterans in postwar North Carolina. Collectively, these essays probe the broad military, political, and social significance of black soldiers' armed service, enriching our understanding of the Civil War and African American life during and after the conflict. The contributors are Anne J. Bailey, Arthur W. Bergeron Jr., John Cimprich, Lawrence Lee Hewitt, Richard Lowe, Thomas D. Mays, Michael T. Meier, Edwin S. Redkey, Richard Reid, William Glenn Robertson, John David Smith, Noah Andre Trudeau, Keith Wilson, and Robert J. Zalimas Jr.