=== Revolutionary War ===
|African American Crispus Attucks was the first martyr in the Patriot cause at the Boston Massacre (1770) leading up the the American Revolution.]] African-Americans, slaves and free blacks, served on both sides during the war. Black soldiers served in northern militias from the outset, but this was forbidden in the South, where slave-owners feared arming slaves. Lord Dunmore, the Royal Governor of Virginia, issued an emancipation proclamation in November 1775, promising freedom to runaway slaves who fought for the British; Sir Henry Clinton issued a similar edict in New York in 1779. Tens of thousands of slaves escaped to the British lines, although possibly as few as 1,000 served under arms. Many of the rest served as orderlies, mechanics, laborers, servants, scouts and guides, although more than half died in smallpox epidemics that swept the British forces, and many were driven out of the British lines when food ran low. Despite Dunmore's promises, the majority were not given their freedom. Many Black Loyalists descendants now live in Canada.
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.
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.
African American soldiers participated in every major campaign of 1864–65 except Sherman's Atlanta Campaign in Georgia. The year 1864 was especially eventful for African American troops. On April 12, 1864, at Battle of Fort Pillow, Tennessee, Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest led his 2,500 men against the Union-held fortification, occupied by 292 black and 285 white soldiers. After driving in the Union pickets and giving the garrison an opportunity to surrender, Forrest's men swarmed into the fort with little difficulty and drove the Federals down the river's bluff into a deadly crossfire. Casualties were high and only sixty-two of the U.S. Colored Troops survived the fight. Many accused the Confederates of perpetrating a massacre of black troops, and the controversy continues today. The battle cry for the Negro soldier east of the Mississippi River became "Remember Fort Pillow!"
The propaganda which sprang from the allegations of a "massacre" at Fort Pillow was useful in convincing United States Colored Troops to become suicide forces which entered battle shouting "No quarter! No quarter!," never surrendered and who themselves perpetrated murders of surrendered Confederate forces in Florida and at Fort Blakley, Alabama, on April 9, 1865, at which battle they also shot two white Union officers who tried to stop them, killing one.
The barracks Forrest's men were accused of burning were actually burned under orders by a Union officer. Lieutenant Daniel Van Horn, Sixth U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery, whose report is contained in the Federal Official Records, documented that Lieutenant John D. Hill, U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery, set fire to the barracks under orders of the Union commanding officer.
Forrest took 39 United States Colored Troops (USCT) as POWs and sent them up the chain of command. Forrest even transferred the 14 most seriously wounded USCT to the U.S. Steamer Silver Cloud where they could get better care than that which he could provide.
Allegations of a "massacre" continue to be controversial because historians remain either willfully or blissfully unaware of the Federal Official Records and the 1871 Congressional investigation conclusion.
Blacks, both slave and free, were also heavily involved in assisting the Union in matters of intelligence, and their contributions were labelled Black Dispatches.
*John David Smith, ''Black Soldiers in Blue: African American Troops in the Civil War Era'' (Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press, 2002). [http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/49529915 WorldCat entry].
'''Confederate States Army'''