Admiral Recounts African-American Part in Civil War

Office of Naval Research
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: FEB. 23, 2011

ARLINGTON, Va. -- The Office of Naval Research celebrated African-American History Month with a command-wide observance Feb. 22 at its Arlington, Va., headquarters.

Rear Adm. Julius Caesar, vice director of Joint Concept Development and Experimentation at the U.S. Joint Forces Command, gave the keynote address and used the theme of “African-Americans and the Civil War” as the context for the lecture.

Caesar said that African-Americans are part of the totality of American history and all of its glory. “People have a natural sense of pride for where they come from,” he said. “That sense of identity affirms the groups we are from and affirms you as an individual.”

The audience learned the history of African-Americans’ involvement in the Civil War, and how influential figures, such as Frederick Douglass, Civil War spy John Scobell and ship’s pilot Robert Smalls, were important in defining American culture through history.
 
While stressing the inequalities that African-American troops encountered during the Civil War, Caesar also described how they played a decisive role in its outcome. More than 186,000 African Americans served in “Negro” regiments and comprised nearly 10 percent of the Union Army. However, the casualty rate of the entire African-American troop contingent throughout the Civil War was more than 30 percent, which was 35 percent more than the white counterparts.

“African-Americans were also paid 35 percent less than the white troops,” he added. “And there were only 16 blacks who received the Medal of Honor during the Civil War.” This reality was brought to life in “The Negro's Civil War: How American Blacks Felt and Acted During the War for the Union,” a book Caesar cited during his speech, drawing anecdotal examples of both the oppression of African-American troops and their loyalty to the country.

Caesar followed his discussion with a question and answer session where he addressed women in the Navy as well as his own personal motivations for pursuing a naval career.

“What it comes down to is that people want their freedom. African-Americans helped fight for, and build, this country. With that said, their contributions should never be overlooked,” he said.

There are currently more than 89,000 African-Americans serving in the Navy, comprising 18 percent of Navy enlisted personnel and 8 percent of naval officers. African-American History Month was founded by the writer, editor and historian Carter G. Woodson in 1926 to address and memorialize the significant achievements of African-Americans throughout history.

About the Office of Naval Research

The Department of the Navy's Office of Naval Research (ONR) provides the science and technology necessary to maintain the Navy and Marine Corps' technological advantage. Through its affiliates, ONR is a leader in science and technology with engagement in 50 states, 70 countries, 1,035 institutions of higher learning and 914 industry partners. ONR employs approximately 1,400 people, comprising uniformed, civilian and contract personnel, with additional employees at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C.

Image - Rear Adm. Julius Caesar

Office of Naval Research
Corporate Strategic Communications
875 North Randolph St. #1225D
Arlington, Va. 22203-1771
Office: (703) 696-5031
Fax: (703) 696-5940
E-mail: onrcsc@onr.navy.mil
Web: www.onr.navy.mil
Facebook: www.facebook.com/officeofnavalresearch

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