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Press Release: 18,000 African American Civil War Sailors Identified

Press Release 12-2000: 8 November 2000

Approximately 18,000 African American Sailors who served in the Civil War have been identified and placed on a database that will dedicated during a ceremony at the U.S. Navy Memorial, 701 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, D.C., at 10 a.m. on Friday, November 17, 2000.

This is almost twice the number of African American Sailors researchers expected to find. Authorities originally assumed that about 10,000 had participated in the Civil War, but the Naval Historical Center, in conjunction with a Howard University study, and the National Park Service (NPS), documented an additional 8,000 African American participants.
Over the course of the Civil War, 18,000 African American men and more than a dozen African American women served in the U.S. Navy, some 15% of the total enlisted force. These sailors served on almost every one of the nearly 700 Navy vessels and eight earned the Medal of Honor for their heroism in battle.

Dr. William Dudley, Director of the Naval Historical Center, announced that the Sailors' names and military history would be incorporated into the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System Database (CWSS). Personal information, naval service and muster records included in the database are accessible through the Internet at http://www.itd.nps.gov/cwss/.
Vice Admiral Edward Moore Jr., commander, Naval Surface Force Pacific Fleet, the senior African American active duty Navy member, and NPS Director Robert Stanton, will join Dr. Dudley to mark the formal announcement on Friday.
The Civil War Sailors Database is the product of a partnership formed in 1993 among Howard University, the Department of the Navy and the NPS. Funding for the program was provided through grants from the Department of Defense Legacy Resources Management Program.

A team of researchers from Howard University's Department of History, headed by Joseph P. Reidy, Professor of History and Associate Dean of the Graduate School, examined hundreds of thousands of pages of naval records housed at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., for evidence about African American Sailors.

Advised by a committee of experts in Civil War naval history, including the Naval Historical Center, the NPS, the National Archives and the Smithsonian Institution, the researchers systematically pieced together the history of the African American soldiers in the Civil War Navy. The database was compiled from surviving personnel records, rendezvous reports and ship's muster rolls, and then compared with the Navy's Index to Service Histories prepared by the Navy Department during the World War II era.

The research continues today as the partners examine pension files in order to supplement this list of names with a more complete record of information about the experience of the naval enlistees and their families throughout the Civil War era.

The CWSS is a cooperative effort by the NPS and several other public and private partners, to computerize information about the Civil War into a database containing basic facts about servicemen who served on both sides during the Civil War. The goal of the CWSS is to increase the American people's understanding of this decisive era in American history by making
information about it widely accessible. The CWSS will enable the public to make a personal link between themselves and history.
For more information on Naval History, contact www.history.navy.mil

POINT OF CONTACT: Public Affairs Officer, NHHC, 202-433-0412.