An unofficial estimate of the number of colored seamen in the Navy shows that there are now a bout 5,000 in that branch of the public service. They ere originally introduced as cooks and stewards, and for years were not seen on deck. Long before the war, however, they were allowed in the “after guard”, and got along so well with the sailors and marines that the propriety of putting them in “the top” soon became apparent. At present they are seamen, ordinary seamen, landsmen, and boys – the marine corps and the ward-room being the only portions of a man-of-war from which they are excluded.
(Liberator, Sept. 25, 1863, pg. 3)