These images show the very first black soldiers that signed up to the Union Army during the American Civil War.
The brave men that stepped forward, did this despite the Confederate army promising death if they were captured – and even prejudices from their own side, such as unequal pay.
The enlistment of black troops, most commanded by white officers, was made possible by Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation made on New Year’s Day, 1863.
The Bureau of Colored Troops opened in May that year to facilitate the recruitment of African-American soldiers, as well as Native Americans and Asian Americans.
They became known as the United States Colored Troops (USCT) and approximately 175 regiments comprising of more than 180,000 free black men, of whom 7122 were officers, served during the last two years of the war.