Even after gaining acceptance into military service, black soldiers suffered racist treatment from many of their white officers.
They received half the pay of white troops and were given menial duties. The Confederates generally treated their black prisoners with brutality. When several hundred black Union troops were captured at Fort Pillow, Tennessee, in 1864, they were murdered by the Southern forces.
In the early part of the conflict, some Northern commanders returned slaves to their masters, while others forced escapees to work for the Union army. In a few instances, blacks were allowed to farm land confiscated from white planters, but most of these lands were returned to their former owners at the end of the war.
Black women contributed much to the Union effort in the Civil War, acting as spies, nurses, and teachers. Susie King Taylor, was a nurse and laundress with the 33rd U.S. Colored Troops.