Eleanor Holmes Norton
**FILE** Eleanor Holmes Norton (Courtesy photo)

D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) announced Thursday they will introduce a bill to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the 200,000 African Americans who fought on the Union side of the Civil War.

On May 22, 1863, the United States War Department issued a General Order Number 143 that set up the Bureau of Colored Troops for the recruitment and organization of regiments of the Union Army made up of Black men, called the United States Colored Troops. By the end of the Civil War, about 179,000 Black men served as soldiers in the Army and another 19,000 African American men served in the Navy.

Black women couldn’t serve as soldiers and sailors but were enlisted as nurses, cooks, spies and scouts for the two military branches. Norton and Booker said the Blacks who served merit celebration.

“Despite sacrificing life and limb, hundreds of thousands of African Americans who fought for the Union in the Civil War have been largely left out of the nation’s historical memory,” Norton said. “This bill will help correct that wrong and give the descendants of those soldiers the recognition they deserve. Thank you to Senator Booker for partnering with me in this effort.”

Booker said “more than 150 years after the end of the war, I am proud to introduce bicameral legislation with Congresswoman Norton that award these heroes the Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of their brave and selfless actions on behalf of our nation.”

On May 22, 1863, the United States War Department issued a General Order Number 143 that set up the Bureau of Colored Troops for the recruitment and organization of regiments of the Union Army made up of Black men, called the United States Colored Troops. By the end of the Civil War, about 179,000 Black men served as soldiers in the Army and another 19,000 African American men served in the Navy.

Black women couldn’t serve as soldiers and sailors but were enlisted as nurses, cooks, spies and scouts for the two military branches. Norton and Booker said the Blacks who served merit celebration.

“Despite sacrificing life and limb, hundreds of thousands of African Americans who fought for the Union in the Civil War have been largely left out of the nation’s historical memory,” Norton said. “This bill will help correct that wrong and give the descendants of those soldiers the recognition they deserve. Thank you to Senator Booker for partnering with me in this effort.”

Booker said “more than 150 years after the end of the war, I am proud to introduce bicameral legislation with Congresswoman Norton that award these heroes the Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of their brave and selfless actions on behalf of our nation.”

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