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๐—ซ๐—ซ๐—ฉ ๐—–๐—ข๐—ฅ๐—ฃ๐—ฆ (1864-1866), The Largest so-called 'African American' Force in the Union Army




The largest African American force in the Union Army during the American Civil War was the XXV Corps. Furthermore, it was the only all-black Army corps in American military history. The X Corps and the XVIII Corps, two United States Troop Corps, were reorganized on December 3, 1864, creating two racially separated units. The XXIV Corps was formed from the white soldiers and the XXV Corps from the black units. General A. Kautz, General William Birney, and General Charles Paine served as the division unit commanders for the new XXV Corps, which was under the overall direction of Major General Godfrey Weitzel. 13,630 soldiers, comprising infantry, cavalry, and artillery divisions, made up the XXV Corps. Black soldiers were guided by white officers. Two corps made up the entire U.S. Army throughout the Civil War, which highlights the significance of this reorganization. On February 5โ€“7, 1865, the XXV Corps engaged in its first battle, the Battle of Hatcher's Run. The regiment took part in the Fall of Petersburg on April 2 and relieved other Union troops in the trenches. The majority of the unit thereafter seized Petersburg, while two brigades joined the April 9 Battle of Clover Hill in pursuit of General Robert E. Lee's rapidly decreasing Confederate forces. To reach the battleground, the men would at times march thirty miles in less than twenty hours.


The final serious clash between Union and Confederate forces in Virginia took place at the Battle of Clover Hill. General Ulysses S. Grant, in charge of the Union forces, increased the intensity of their chase of the last Confederate soldiers. Along with the all-white XXIV Corps, the XXV Corps units joined the chase and surrounded Lee's Army at Appomattox Court House.


On the afternoon of April 9, General Lee was forced to submit. General Weitzel traveled to Richmond with General Kautz's 1st division in the meantime. Units of the XXV Corps were among the first to reach the city, which had served as the Confederacy's capital for the previous four years, on April 3. Thus, Black soldiers from the XXV Corps were present at the two crucial occasions that marked the end of the Civil War and the fall of the Confederacy. General Weitzel oversaw the deployment of the whole XXV Corps to Brownsville, Texas, by May 1865. Along the Texas-Mexico border, they took up the role of the Army of Occupation, defending against Napoleon III's French forces and keeping an eye out for any revived Confederate activities. The majority of the XXV Corps remained on the American side of the Rio Grande River, despite a small number of members joining Benito Juarez's Mexican army to battle directly against the French. The whole mission along the border resulted in the illness-related deaths of hundreds of soldiers. The abolition of the XXV Corps took place on January 8, 1866. In total, the Civil War engagements in which the XXV Corps took part were Deep Bottom, Bermuda Hundred, Fort Gregg, Clover Hill, Rice's Station, Chaffin's Farm, Fort Gilmer, Darbytown Road, and Fair Oaks.

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