The Graduate Center - City University of New York

"Assault of the Second Louisiana (Colored) regiment on the Rebel works at Port Hudson, May 27."

The first black Union regiment was formed in 1862, but only with the Emancipation Proclamation in January 1863 did Lincoln give his support to the active recruitment of African-Americans into the Union Army. Black soldiers quickly distinguished themselves in battle. In May 1863, Louisiana black regiments fought with great gallantry and almost reckless disregard for their own lives in the assault on Port Hudson, Louisiana. The bravery of these troops, which previously had been doubted by many northern commanders, was soon extolled in the pages of the illustrated press. Enslaved, newly emancipated, or free-born, blacks in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, the New York Illustrated News, and Harper's Weekly had been largely portrayed as childish, crafty, passive, victimized, presumptuous, dependent, or irresponsible. Engravings such as this June 1863 Frank Leslie's depiction of the Second Louisiana Colored Regiment's assault on the Confederate defenses at Port Hudson represented a change in the visualization of African Americans in the war's news illustration.

Creator: Francis H. Schell

Date: June 27, 1863

Publisher: Frank Leslie's illustrated Newspaper

Source: American Social History Project