I like it when little local papers present some of their area’s history. The Cincinnati Black Brigade is not something you’ll find in most Civil War histories, but it’s an interesting glimpse at life for free blacks on the Northern homefront.
As the City of Cincinnati mobilized to meet the forthcoming threat of Confederate invasion in late summer 1862, all able-bodied men were expected to help defend the city.
African-American men were no exception. They organized themselves into a unit to take up arms against the Confederates. Fearing armed African Americans, however, city officials rejected their offer, going so far as to block a planned second meeting by the group. They were told that it was not their war.
Undeterred, these patriotic African-American men endeavored to contribute to the defense of Cincinnati and, in the process, became the first organized African-American group employed for military purposes in the Civil War. Unfortunately, the beginning actions of what would become known as the “Black Brigade” would be coerced and founded in bigotry.