Blackwell North Amer This book refutes the historical slander that blacks did not fight for their emancipation from slavery. At first harshly rejected in their attempts to enlist in the Union army, African Americans were eventually accepted into the service - often through the efforts of individual generals who, frustrated with bureaucratic inaction in the face of dwindling forces, overrode orders from the secretary of war and the president himself. By the end of the Civil War, black soldiers had numbered over 187,000 and served in 167 regiments. Seventeen were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, the nation's highest award for valor. Theirs was a remarkable achievement.