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The Metal Toy Soldiers of Wm. Hocker, Proprietor

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African American Sailors in the Union Navy

Randy Bond - 3Dec10 12:56PM

During the Civil War the Union Army was segregated, but Union naval ships had integrated crews. A large number of these men were slaves who had been freed in Mississippi and many ended up serving on vessels that were part of the Mississippi River Squadron. Over 18,000 African Americans served in the Union navy during the Civil War.The integration makes sense since it was typical of American whaling ships in the 19th C, nicely captured by the ethnically mixed crew of the Pequod in Melville's Moby Dick. As I understand it, such naval integration on U.S. ships extends back to the Revolution. Unfortunately a large part of the American population is unaware of this fact and believes that the earliest integration in the U.S. military did not take place until the Korean War and the presidency of Harry S Truman.

Bill has done some very nice naval sets in his various series and I would love to see a Hocker set featuring some African American Union sailors.

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1. Randy Bond - 3Dec10 12:57PM

Another photo
2. Randy Bond - 3Dec10 12:58PM

Portrait Photo
3. Randy Bond - 3Dec10 1:00PM

The standard book on the subject
4. Randy Bond - 3Dec10 1:08PM

Someday I plan to order set 388 and order a couple of figures painted as African Americans for the crew
5. Bill Hocker - 4Dec10 11:15AM

An excellent suggestion! This is the standard issue on all future sets
6. Randy Bond - 4Dec10 1:57PM


Many Thanks!

The USS Argosy one of the USN Mississippi River Squadron gunboats in from 1863 through 1865 (seen here) had 35 out of 66 crew members who were African Americans.


7. Randy Bond - 7Dec10 8:26AM

The Mississippi River Squadron also had a hospital ship attached to it which included the first ever US Navy female nurses. Five of them were African American. Here is the hospital ship (converted from a captured Confederate vessel). The USS Red Rover played an important medical role at Vicksburg.
8. Randy Bond - 8Dec10 12:20PM

​The Tinclad USS Argosy
Watercolor 1864-65
By Acting Ensign David M. N. Stauffer
(David Dixon Porter Papers Library of Congress)

See post #6

Since 1983