Black Soldiers Receive Equal Pay No Longer & Lee’s Army Moving North

June 7, 1863/2013
Volume 4, Issue 23 (139 Issues Since 15 October 2010)

Black Soldiers Receive Equal Pay No Longer

On June 4, 1863, the War Department reversed its decision, made when the formation of the first black regiments were first authorized in August 1862, that black soldiers would receive the same pay and rations as white soldiers. Henceforth, writes historian Margaret Wagner, black soldiers were to be paid the same as black laborers, “$3 less than the $10 per month paid to white soldiers — and money for clothing was to be extracted from their pay, whereas white soldiers received an additional clothing allowance. Black solders could not leave the service if they objected to this abrupt change in policy.

“On the Northern home front, meanwhile, black civilians also battled discrimination: only five Northern states allowed blacks to vote on an equal basis with whites; five Northern states banned blacks from testifying in court against whites; at least one Northern state — Illinois — had passed a law banning black immigration into the state; school segregation was widespread.

“Fighting on [the Western and Eastern] fronts, the Union’s black soldiers had helped win signal victories on both: Southern armies were defeated and, with ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment in December 1865, slavery in the United States was at an end. Yet [looking two years into the future,] when the Army of the Potomac and General William T. Sherman’s western armies marched in a spectacular Grand Review in Washington on May 23-24, 1865 the only African Americans among the marchers were freedmen walking with Sherman’s troops. Not one of the 166 regiments of the U.S. Colored Troops was included in this celebration.”

– Submitted by Peter A. Gilbert, executive director, Vermont Humanities Council


The American Civil War 365 Days, Margaret E. Wagner, ed. pp. June 13, June 28.

War’s Largest Cavalry Battle Serves Notice that Lee’s Army is Moving North

June 9, 1863. The Battle of Brandy Station was the largest cavalry engagement in the War. The daylong series of charges and counter charges at the beginning of the Gettysburg Campaign cost the Union more than 900 casualties, the Confederacy, more than 500. The brilliant Confederate cavalry general J.E.B. Stuart was deeply embarrassed that the Union’s attack had taken him by surprise. The battle served notice on the Union forces that Lee’s army was on the move — north. Ultimately, it would arrive at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

– Submitted by Peter A. Gilbert, executive director, Vermont Humanities Council

"Cavalry Charge Near Brandy Station, Virginia," by Edwin Forbes, 1864, courtesy Library of Congress

“Cavalry Charge Near Brandy Station, Virginia,” by Edwin Forbes, 1864, courtesy Library of Congress


Stuart A. P. Murray, ed., Witness to the Civil War: First-Hand Accounts from Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, 158

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Filed under Civil War Book of Days: 1863

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