US Navy

Unlike the US Army, which had prohibited African American men from serving since the adoption of the federal Militia Act in 1792, the US Navy had never adopted such a ban. However, Navy regulations did limit their numbers to 5% of the enlisted force. When the Civil War began, the numbers of African American men in the Navy were well below the 5% limit. With the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation this limit was lifted and by the end of the Civil War nearly 18,000 African American men and 11 women had served in the US Navy. 

Thirteen men who were born in Williamson County who enlisted in the Navy during the War have been identified. 

Five of these men were all Bosticks – Burton, Dudley, Hardin, Stephen, and William Bostick - born in Triune and taken to Arkansas to farm cotton before they emancipated themselves during the War. Four days after the Emancipation Proclamation they enlisted in the Navy aboard the gunship the USS General Bragg

One Williamson County sailor, Louis Brown, was only 13 years old when he enlisted on the USS Black Hawk in the Arkansas River in January 1863. Others served on hospital ships and gunboats on the Mississippi, Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers throughout the War.

The General Bragg