Accession Number:



U. S. Colored Troops: A Model for US Army Foreign Army Development and Organization

Descriptive Note:

Technical Report,01 Jun 2016,31 May 2017

Corporate Author:

U.S. Army Command and General Staff College Fort Leavenworth United States

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



Over the course of the Civil War, 186,000 former slaves and freedmen of African descent served in the Union Army designated as US Colored Troops. These black troops accounted for 10 of US forces. This was a unique experience in US military history, as the United States through unprecedented procedures, recruited, raised, trained, and organized a predominantly uneducated force for military service. The United States Colored Troops was a force built from a population considered second class inhabitants at best, property at worst. Besides the color barrier, the white populace, government, and military leaders questioned whether the black soldiers possessed the mental capacity, physical capability, and emotional determination to fight. Despite preconceived biases and prejudices, the War Department aligned political aims with military means to establish new systems to generate a new force from scratch. Similar comparisons exist in contemporary operations in Iraq and Afghanistan as the US military raised, trained, and developed foreign forces to questionable results. By examining the historical insights from the Civil War, the methods of recruitment, organization, training, and communication provide the US Army concepts applicable today for the development of foreign forces. The resulting troops would be a more effective force in supporting operations and transitions from a US military authority to host-nation forces.

Subject Categories:

  • Humanities and History
  • Sociology and Law
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

Distribution Statement: