Count Them Too: African Americans from Delaware and the United States Civil War Navy, 1861-1865

By Simmons, Sellano L. | The Journal of Negro History, Summer 2000 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Count Them Too: African Americans from Delaware and the United States Civil War Navy, 1861-1865


Simmons, Sellano L., The Journal of Negro History


Sellano L. Simmons [*]

The United States Civil War remains one of the most gruesome, but significant events in the nation's history. For four years, from 1861 to 1865, as this war waged on, human beings killed one another in unprecedented numbers. Some eighty percent of the able-bodied population of the South and nearly fifty percent of a similar population of the North joined the military of these two regions of the United States. [1] Although the vast majority of these participants had no military experience, they still decided to join the war effort. Never before or since have so many persons been mobilized for war on United States territory. However, not all the personnel recruited for this war were Americans.

The Records of the United States Civil War Navy reveal that many persons who were recruited came from Africa, Europe, Asia, other areas of the Americas and as far away as the Pacific region and Australia. Among the Americans who served in this navy from 1861 to 1865 and contributed to the war effort were approximately 19,000 African Americans. [2] Of this number, just over 300 came from Delaware. The efforts and contributions of this group that served in the United States Civil War Navy from 1861 to 1865 need to be recognized. Small numbers of African-American participants must be counted too. [3]

South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky, Tennessee, New York, and Massachusetts were among the leading areas from which African Americans enlisted. Other states such as Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi also provided a significant number of participants of African descent. [4]

At the time when the Civil War broke out, the United States of America was made up of large and small territories and states. The larger divisions of the country tended to account for more participants in this war; therefore, smaller states such as Delaware usually accounted for smaller numbers of war personnel. Delaware measures approximately 100 miles in length and varies in width from nine to thirty-five miles. There are three counties in this state, namely Kent, Sussex, and New Castle. Delaware shares borders with Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, and the Atlantic Ocean. (See Figure 1.) When the Civil War began, the entire population of Delaware was 112,216. Of this number, 1,798 were slaves and 19,829 were free blacks. [5] This paper examines the contributions of the population of African descent from Delaware in naval warfare during the American Civil War.

The war pitted twenty-three Northern states with a population of 21 million against eleven Southern states with a population of more than nine million. The North was in a more advantageous position as far as potential fighting men were concerned. Estimates suggest that over 800,000 men fought for the Confederacy while 2,100,000 fought for the Union. Persons of African descent accounted for nearly 200,000 of these persons in the Union forces. [6] The majority of persons of African descent participated in the army during the Civil War.

In Delaware an increasing number of slaves ran away as the Civil War approached. When the war began, a greater number of them escaped. Of these runaways, many joined the Union army. Additionally, former slaves were often the majority of inductees for the army unit stationed at Wilmington. [7]

General Order # 309 was issued in 1863 by the War Department. It stipulated that the states of Tennessee, Missouri, and Maryland could allow those of African descent to enroll. As a result, the governor of Delaware requested that his state should also be included. Consequently, a total of 954 African Americans from Delaware enlisted in the army in 1863 alone. [8] However, the United States Navy records show that the number of these persons who served in the navy were less than in the army. Thus, Delaware, one of the smaller states, provided less navy pesonnel than the larger areas of the country.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Count Them Too: African Americans from Delaware and the United States Civil War Navy, 1861-1865
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?