Black Recruits Unwelcome in Philadelphia
The use of generous bounties for paid volunteers (an oxymoron) and the resort to using black slaves as troops was an admission that popular support for the war against Americans in the South was nearly extinct in the North. And once Lincoln’s administration allowed dislocated and captured slaves to be counted against States troop quotas, Northern State agents swarmed into the occupied South in search of (and fighting over) black recruits who would be counted toward that quota and leave white Northern men safe from Lincoln’s conscription net.
Bernhard Thuersam, Chairman
North Carolina War Between the States Sesquicentennial Commission
"The Official Website of the North Carolina WBTS Sesquicentennial"
Black Recruits Unwelcome in Philadelphia:
“In spite of announcements assuring blacks of pay equal to that of the white soldier, actual practice belied this promise. White enlisted men received thirteen dollars a month with a clothing allowance of an additional three dollars and fifty cents. Black soldiers, however, were paid only ten dollars per month, three dollars of which might be deducted for clothing.
Blacks were also generally denied bounties. Bounties were cash bonuses paid to volunteers by federal, State, or local authorities as an incentive to enlist. These bounties often totaled more than five hundred dollars or more, a generous amount exceeding the average annual wages for a Northern worker. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania eventually contributed a token bounty of ten dollars to each black recruit.
The War Department had also refused to commission black officers. A manyfold rationale stood behind this decision. First, the concept of black troops would be more acceptable
The [black recruits] of Camp William Penn constantly experienced another reminder of their inferior status through the discriminatory policy of the streetcars of Philadelphia. Of the nineteen streetcar and suburban railroad companies that operated in and around Philadelphia, eleven outright refused to permit blacks to ride. The other eight tolerated black riders but required them to stand on the front platform with the driver.”
The “Grand Review” and battalion drills had all been executed in the friendly confines of the training camp itself. Colonel Wagner and the other [white] commanders recognized the risks they would face when their units left their camp. Earlier in the year, on September 18, the 3rd Regiment of US Colored Infantry marched through Philadelphia on its way to war. At that time the mayor and concerned officials compelled them to march unarmed and in civilian clothes.[An] underlying tension still simmered because of the many residents who harbored deep prejudices. This threatening situation had caused the mayor to delay an earlier planned parade of the 3rd US Colored Troops
even after it had been publicly advertised. During the 6th’s [US Colored Regiment] parade the fear of violence prompted marching officers to carry loaded revolvers to be used in an emergency. The [black] enlisted men, carrying musket and bayonet, “were not trusted with any ammunition.”
(Strike the Blow for Freedom, The 6th US Colored Infantry in the Civil War, James M. Paradis, White Mane Books, 1998, pp. 17-29)