William Carney: An American Civil War Medal of Honor Recipient

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"The Fight for Equal Rights and Black Soldiers in the American Civil War"

William Carney: Valor, Courage, Honor

Sergeant William Carney
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Civil War "Medal of Honor" Recipient

Medal of Honor Recipient
William Carney: Valor, Courage, Honor
 Winner of the Medal of Honor
Sergeant William Carney of New Bedford, MA, became the first African American awarded the Medal of Honor for "most distinguished gallantry in action" during the assault on Fort Wagner, South Carolina, on July 18, 1863. After being shot in the thigh, Carney crawled uphill on his knees, bearing the Union flag and urging his troops to follow. Sergeant Carney valiantly served in the famous 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment (Colored).

Sergeant William Carney: Medal of Honor Citation
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NARA

(About): Sergeant William Carney and Medal of Honor citation.

William Carney Civil War Record
William Carney.jpg
NARA

(About): Sergeant William Carney's Compiled Military Service Record (CMSR)

Source: National Archives and Records Administration, Compiled Military Service Records (CMSR), Records of the Adjutant General's Office, 1780's-1917, RG 94.

Recommended Reading: African American Recipients of the Medal of Honor: A Biographical Dictionary, Civil War Through Vietnam War (Hardcover). Description: This outstanding work details the stories of the 88 African Americans who have been awarded the Medal of Honor--the nation's highest award. Each awardee's "acts of bravery and courage" is chronicled and described in detail. Beginning with a brief history of the Medal of Honor, the book is then divided into eight sections covering every major conflict from the Civil War through the Vietnam War. An appendix of the number of medals awarded by wars and campaigns, a bibliography, and an index are included.

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Recommended Reading: Black Profiles in Courage: A Legacy of African-American Achievement. Description: With all the flair of his last-second game-winning sky hooks, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar delivers a well-written and important collection highlighting the lives of America's greatest black heroes. Taking his title cue from John Kennedy's Profiles in Courage, Abdul-Jabbar brings to life the exploits of a wide variety of African Americans, including Estevanico, a Moorish slave who discovered Arizona and New Mexico; Cinque, a kidnapped African slave who led a mutiny aboard the slave ship Amistad and later won his freedom in the U.S.; and Harriet Tubman, who brought hundreds of slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad. Continued below...

In a time when the media beams negative images of African Americans around the world, Black Profiles in Courage is indispensable for young adults of other races as well as African-American youth, showing that attributes like courage are not coded by color. For those young blacks who feel distant from America because of racism, books like this are a small but potent antidote against prejudice, reminding them of the important contributions African Americans have made to their country.

 

Recommended Reading: The Negro's Civil War: How American Blacks Felt and Acted During the War for the Union. Description: In this classic study, Pulitzer Prize-winning author James M. McPherson deftly narrates the experience of blacks--former slaves and soldiers, preachers, visionaries, doctors, intellectuals, and common people--during the Civil War. Drawing on contemporary journalism, speeches, books, and letters, he presents an eclectic chronicle of their fears and hopes as well as their essential contributions to their own freedom. Continued below...

Through the words of these extraordinary participants, both Northern and Southern, McPherson captures African-American responses to emancipation, the shifting attitudes toward Lincoln and the life of black soldiers in the Union army. Above all, we are allowed to witness the dreams of a disenfranchised people eager to embrace the rights and the equality offered to them, finally, as citizens.

 

Recommended Reading: Black Union Soldiers in the Civil War. Description: This book refutes the historical slander that blacks did not fight for their emancipation from slavery. At first harshly rejected in their attempts to enlist in the Union army, blacks were eventually accepted into the service—often through the efforts of individual generals who, frustrated with bureaucratic inaction in the face of dwindling forces, overrode orders from the secretary of war and even the president. Continued below...

By the end of the Civil War, African American soldiers had numbered more than 180,000 and served in 167 regiments. Seventeen were awarded the nation’s highest award for valor and heroism--the Medal of Honor. Theirs was a remarkable achievement whose full story is finally revealed.

 

Recommended Reading: A Grand Army of Black Men: Letters from African-American Soldiers in the Union Army 1861-1865 (Cambridge Studies in American Literature and Culture). Description: The Civil War stands vivid in the collective memory of the American public. There has always been a profound interest in the subject, and specifically of Blacks' participation in and reactions to the war and the war's outcome. Almost 200,000 African-American soldiers fought for the Union in the Civil War. Although most were illiterate ex-slaves, several thousand were well educated, free black men from the northern states. The 129 letters in this collection were written by black soldiers in the Union army during the Civil War to black and abolitionist newspapers. Continued below...

They provide a unique expression of the black voice that was meant for a public forum. The letters tell of the men's experiences, their fears, and their hopes. They describe in detail their army days--the excitement of combat and the drudgery of digging trenches. Some letters give vivid descriptions of battle; others protest racism; while others call eloquently for civil rights. Many describe their conviction that they are fighting not only to free the slaves but to earn equal rights as citizens. These letters give an extraordinary picture of the war and also reveal the bright expectations, hopes, and ultimately the demands that black soldiers had for the future--for themselves and for their race. As first-person documents of the Civil War, the letters are strong statements of the American dream of justice and equality, and of the human spirit.

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