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One way that many African-Americans helped to win the Civil War for the Union was to deprive the Confederacy of their labor by running away, which they did in enormous numbers when Union forces entered their vicinity. Even before the Emancipation Proclamation authorized and encouraged the enlistment of African-American troops, many escapees, classified as "contraband" of war, worked in Union Army camps. After the Proclamation, black soldiers enlisted in massive numbers. An estimated 179,000 African-American men joined the Army and Navy, with many serving in combat roles. Abraham Lincoln himself paid tribute to the service of African-American soldiers, endorsing the right to vote for black veterans near the end of the war. By the end of the war, black soldiers made up more than ten percent of the armed forces, providing a significant boost even as the Confederacy was drained of manpower. Moreover, the participation of black soldiers elevated the purpose of the war. Once they actively participated in the fighting, there was no question that the war's purpose transcended issues of union and secession.
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