African American Artifacts at the Army Museum


so the National Museum of the United
States Army is under construction it’ll be open to the public in the next two
years it tells us sort of birth of the nation to to today’s army the artifacts
in our collection tell that story in different ways and within that within
those artifacts that one’s directly related to the african-american
experience and it tells their story but which is
also part of the Army’s story so here we have a copy of an enlistment letter
between Joseph Nye who’s a slave owner and the Continental Army allowing his
slave Juba or Jack as he’s referred to in this letter to serve in a Continental
Army for five months however it is pay that you received from from the Army
half his pay would have to go back to to the slave owner so this was a typical
serve agreement during the Revolutionary War to allow you know slaves who wanted
to fight in the Continental Army this this type of agreement was was made so
it’s dated July 14 1789 his freedom after the war so we hope to think that
his service during the Continental Army game allowed him the game that freedom
during that time so another fascinating artifact in our collection this time it
talks about the Civil War about the the achievements of African Americans during
the Civil War this is a colored troop medal the earliest medal of honoring the
achievements of African Americans during the Civil War I was authorized by Major
General Benjamin Butler Butler was more of a politician than a fighting general
he was a lawyer and a big advocate for freeing the
slaves and so he wanted something to symbolize their sacrifice during the
Civil War so this metal as you see is to two
soldiers in formation and a motto there their freedom will be gained by the
sword and on the other side that had States the year that this particular
medal is cast in 1864 so later in the war but general Butler you know more of
his famous decisions or acts was the contraband of war decision so what he
did when three slaves escaped to Fort Monroe which is in Virginia he declared
them contraband of war he did that to protect them from the Fugitive Slave Act
which allowed slave owners to sort of reclaim their property back if they
escaped so by declaring them contrabands nullified that that Fugitive Slave Act
and then once word spread about this decision hundreds and then thousands of
escaped slaves come to Fort Monroe and Fort Monroe becomes known as freedom for
it so this metal sort of symbolizes you know that fighting spirit right that the
fighting for freedom that african-americans you know
you know volunteered to do and Menino initially was given to 200
african-american soldiers during the war and then thousands more after the war so
another item from the Civil War is a presentation snare drum that was
dedicated to Henry Galloway as you can see inscribed into the the brass plate
of this drum now drums during the Civil War we used often marching troops and
communication on the battlefield and so this this sort of represents that from
that time period and what’s interesting is is his fellow soldiers of the 55th
you know paid for this drum as well as other instruments for for the band that
represented the 55th and it’s a beautiful piece if you look at it that
brass a sort of collar around the drum and the original sort of leather holders
here gives you know sort of intimate details about how these things were
built but also a strong connection to a particular soldier from the 55th African
American soldier who served during the Civil War and served in some key battles
for example the Battle of hunting Hill which is part of you know Sherman’s
famous march to the sea where many African American soldiers died during
that battle so it’s kind of a symbol of their accomplishments a symbol of their
their their sort of fighting spirit dort during the Civil War

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