In response, and because of manpower shortages, Washington lifted the ban on black enlistment in the Continental Army in January 1776. All-black units were formed in Rhode Island and Massachusetts; many were slaves promised freedom for serving in lieu of their masters; another all-black unit came from Haiti with French forces. At least 5,000 black soldiers fought as Revolutionaries.
Peter Salem and Salem Poor are the most noted of the American Patriots during this era.[[Image:Sgt Major Christian Fleetwood.jpg|thumb|right|
200px|Sgt. Major Christian Fleetwood, United States Colored Troops (USCT), Medal of Honor, Civil War.]]
=== Civil War ===
On July 17, 1863, at Honey Springs, Indian Territory, now Oklahoma, the 1st Kansas Colored fought with courage again. Union troops under General James G. Blunt ran into a strong Confederate force under General Douglas H. Cooper. After a two-hour bloody engagement, Cooper's soldiers retreated. The 1st Kansas, which had held the center of the Union line, advanced to within fifty paces of the Confederate line and exchanged fire for some twenty minutes until the Confederates broke and ran. General Blunt wrote after the battle, "I never saw such fighting as was done by the Negro regiment....The question that negroes will fight is settled; besides they make better solders in every respect than any troops I have ever had under my command."
The most widely known battle fought by African Americans was the assault on Fort Wagner, South Carolina, by the 54th
MassachusettsInfantry on July 18, 1863. The 54th volunteered to lead the assault on the strongly-fortified Confederate positions. The soldiers of the 54th scaled the fort's parapet, and were only driven back after brutal hand-to-hand combat. Despite the defeat, the unit was hailed for its valor which spurred further African-American recruitment, giving the Union a numerical military advantage from a population the Confederacy did not dare exploit in that fashion until the closing days of the war.
Although black soldiers proved themselves as reputable soldiers, discrimination in pay and other areas remained widespread. According to the Militia Act of 1862, soldiers of African descent were to receive $10.00 a month, plus a clothing allowance of $3.50. Many regiments struggled for equal pay, some refusing any money until June 15, 1864, when Congress granted equal pay for all black soldiers.