William H. Carney: The first black soldier to earn the Medal of Honor

Of all the men who wore blue uniforms in the Civil War, none felt more keenly the purpose of his mission than the African American soldier. Every marching step, every swing of a pick and every round fired at Confederate enemies gave him a chance to strike a blow against slavery and prove himself equal to his white comrades.

U.S. Colored Troops were consistently good fighters, performing well in every engagement in which they fought. Even their enemies had to grudgingly admit that fact. One USCT member, William H. Carney, transcended good to become great, and was the first black U.S. soldier to earn the Medal of Honor.

On February 17, 1863, at age 23, Carney heeded the call for African Americans to join a local militia unit, the Morgan Guards, with 45 other volunteers from his hometown of New Bedford, Mass. That unit would later become Company C of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment.

Read the full article on Military Times

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