United States Colored Troops

United States Colored Troops or U.S.C.T soldiers played a significant role in securing victory for the Union during the Civil War. In this lesson, students will explore what motivated men to volunteer for duty in the U.S.C.T, and the particular risks they faced.

Standards & Objectives

Academic standards
8.78
Describe African-American involvement in the Union army, including the Massachusetts 54th Regiment and the 13th U.S. Colored Troops in the Battle of Nashville.
TSS.ELA.6.W.PDW.4
Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
TSS.ELA.7.W.PDW.4
Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
TSS.ELA.8.W.PDW.4
Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
 
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Learning objectives: 

In the course of the lesson, students will:

  • identify African American involvement in the Union army
  • analyze documents and images
  • draw inferences about the motivations of African American soldiers
  • draw inferences about the risks that African American soldiers faced
  • write an opinion piece that demonstrates knowledge of motivations and risks of African American soldiers in the Civil War
Essential and guiding questions: 
  • What motivated men to volunteer for service in the United States Colored Troops?
  • What risks did theyface?
  • How did the experiences of African American soldiers differ from those of white Union soldiers?

Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 
Applying
Extension suggestions: 
  • Require students to cite evidence from specific sources in their opinion piece.
  • Give students the option of creating a poster encouraging OR discouraging men from joining the U.S.C.T.
  • Have students find additional primary sources that support predictions from their graphic organizer not covered by the sources in the lesson.

Helpful Hints

Materials Needed:

  • Copies of the graphic organizer
  • Copies of, or computer access to, the following primary sources:
  • The Fort Pillow Massacre
  • Appointment of George Singleton as sergeant in USCI regiment
  • Certificate of enlistment for Dennis Morgan into the United States Colored Troops
  • Letter from Decatur G. Chapin, a white officer of the 55th United States Colored Troops (to his brother)
  • Transcribed Excerpt of Letter from Decatur G. Chapin, a white officer of the 55th United States Colored Troops (to his brother) see attached document
  • Letter from Decatur G. Chapin, a white officer of the 55th United States Colored Troops (to his father)
  • Transcribed Excerpt of Letter from Decatur G. Chapin, a white officer of the 55th United States Colored Troops (to his father) see attached document
  • “To Colored Men” Recruitment Poster
  • “Mother of a Northern Black Soldier to the President”