From Ohio History Central
On May 22, 1863, the United States government authorized the formation of the United States Colored Troops (USCT). As the American Civil War continued, the government sought African American soldiers to assist in the war effort. Eventually nearly 179,000 African American men served in the USCT during the course of the war. These men included both free African Americans and slaves. While serving in the United States Army, African American soldiers still experienced racial discrimination. USCT units consisted of African American enlisted men led by white officers. The African American soldiers also received less pay than their white counterparts. Almost six thousand African American Ohioans served in the USCT.
Following the Civil War, the United States military continued to welcome African American soldiers into the ranks, although these soldiers were no longer designated United States Colored Troops. African Americans still served in segregated units, commanded by white officers. Many of these soldiers served in the South and acted as occupying troops during the Reconstruction era. The federal government later sent many of the African American soldiers to the West to battle the Native Americans. The Native Americans gave the soldiers the nickname "Buffalo Soldiers." African Americans remained in segregated units until 1948, when President Harry Truman desegregated the United States armed services.