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African Americans were present in the crews of U.S. Navy ships throughout the 19th Century. This presence was greatly enhanced during the Civil War as newly freed slaves and a greatly expanded Navy worked together in a common purpose. In addition, African American civilians provided support services that were essential to keeping the wartime navy functioning effectively.


While we have no relevant pictures that predate the Civil War,this page presents and provides links to a broad selection of images related to African-Americans' service in the U.S. Navy during the 1860s thru the 1890s.


Following the Civil War, African Americans continued to serve in unlimited roles among the Navy's enlisted ranks, though a tendency to encourage them to become officer's stewards was emerging.