Date of Award

Spring 2013

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of arts (BA)


Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

Luther Adams


African American soldiers were a central aspect of the Union Army’s effort to defeat the Confederate Army in the Civil War, yet their contributions were forgotten by white American society in the fifty years following the end of the conflict. Their contributions were absent in the various forms of commemoration that were performed and constructed after the war, including monuments, Memorial Day services, and veterans’ reunions. Through examining these forms of commemoration, as well as Emancipation Day celebrations, certain trends become apparent. African American veterans were excluded from Civil War memory through physical segregation both physically and in the language used in these forms of commemoration. Reunification, or “the Union cause,” was remembered by white American society as the dominant outcome of the Civil War, while white Americans ignored the Emancipation cause that African American soldiers fought for and achieved. African American soldiers were left out of white America’s public memory of the Civil War through ignoring the Emancipation causem as well as their segregation from avenues of commemoration. Ultimately, Civil War memory was a segregated memory.