As we wrap up our week honoring African American History month, we turn our attention towards the Civil War. African American soldiers and sailors served in the armies and navies of both the Union and Confederacy during the Civil War. By the end of the conflict, over 178,000 black soldiers saw service with the Union army, while as many as 18,000 African Americans joined the Union navy. Service figures for the Confederate States are unknown. African American participation in the Civil War had far reaching effects and implications for the black servicemen themselves, their white comrades in arms, and the society of which they were struggling to become a part and gain respect. The campaign, siege, and defense of Vicksburg (Mississippi) provides two of the earliest instances of African American soldiers serving in combat during the Civil War.