Many people assume that blacks who fought in the Civil War were all slaves that may have been forced into battle. However, a new exhibit at the African-American Museum in L.A. tells many sides of the black soldier through photographs.

The exhibit is called “African-American Military Portraits from the American Civil War." It includes photos of families and soldiers who were involved in the war. There are civil war artifacts, reproductions and displays specific to the time period and the lifestyle of the black soldiers.

There’s the story of John Sharper the Printer who was working before he joined the military in Rhode Island. Although he was highly educated and respected as a professional, he chose to leave his business and join the Army.

Another photo tells the story of a slave who saw a Union Army Naval ship pass by his owner’s plantation. He jumped in the water and swam out to the ship to start a new life as a sailor in the Civil War.

The exhibit was donated to the museum by the Liljenguist family and will remain as long as the display is free to the public. The event comes in time for the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. The exhibit will be on display at the African-American Museum in Los Angeles until January 20, 2013.

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