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Interpreting the Evidence

Muster Roll #1230 for Jasper Yowns, Civil War, 1865

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Eras:

    Civil War and Reconstruction (1850 - 1877)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Upper Elementary
    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:

    African Americans
    Civil War

  • Primary Source Types:

    Written Document

  • Regions:

    Western New York
    New York State
    United States

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Muster Roll #1230 for Jasper Towns, Civil War, 1865 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
A muster roll for Jasper Yowns of the U.S. Colored Troops, Civil War, 1865.
Historical Context
African Americans have fought in every war in which the United States was involved; the Civil War was no exception. In July of 1862, Congress passed two acts that allowed for the enlistment of African Americans into the Army. However, it was not until after the Emancipation Proclamation in September of that year that enlistments officially began. Around 180,000 African Americans fought in 163 units for the Union.  

The African American soldier faced discrimination in the Union Army. Many white soldiers believed that African Americans lacked the courage to fight. African American soldiers were at first paid less than their white counterparts. Some African American regiments refused to accept any pay until it was equal to what the white soldiers received. In June of 1864, Congress approved equal pay for all soldiers.

In all, African Americans made up 10% of the Union Army. Casualties were high, and approximately one-third of all enlisted African American soldiers died in the war.

Essential Question
How does war impact a society?
Check for Understanding
Summarize the information contained in this document and evaluate the impact of the Civil War on Jasper Yowns life.
Interdisciplinary Connections
Math: If 36,000 African Americans out of 178,975 total soldiers died, what percentage of African American soldiers died in the Civil War?
Science: What were some common non-combat killers during the Civil War?
English Language Arts: Create a poster recruiting African Americans to the Union cause.
Historical Challenges
There are some very-well-known African American regiments of the Civil War. Choose one New York regiment and research its actions.