The Civil War in Missouri

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Teaching the Negro Recruits the Use of the Minie Rifle

From Harper's Weekly, 1863
MHM Library

African American soldiers in the Missouri regiments were issued the British-made Enfield, a dependable weapon that was comparable to the U.S.-made Springfield. Arming men of color raised the question of the place of African Americans in society. Armed men, fighting for the national cause, were not willing to be relegated to the margins of society after risking their lives for freedom. The right to bear arms in defense of the nation was considered the right of a citizen, and African Americans felt that because of their military service they deserved the rights of free men.