African American Faces of the Civil War: An Album

African American Faces of the Civil War: An Album

by Ronald S. Coddington
     
 

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A renowned collector of Civil War photographs and a prodigious researcher, Ronald S. Coddington combines compelling archival images with biographical stories that reveal the human side of the war. This third volume in his series on Civil War soldiers contains previously unpublished photographs of African American Civil War participants—many of whom fought to

Overview

A renowned collector of Civil War photographs and a prodigious researcher, Ronald S. Coddington combines compelling archival images with biographical stories that reveal the human side of the war. This third volume in his series on Civil War soldiers contains previously unpublished photographs of African American Civil War participants—many of whom fought to secure their freedom.

During the Civil War, 200,000 African American men enlisted in the Union army or navy. Some of them were free men and some escaped from slavery; others were released by sympathetic owners to serve the war effort. African American Faces of the Civil War tells the story of the Civil War through the images of men of color who served in roles that ranged from servants and laborers to enlisted men and junior officers.

Coddington discovers these portraits— cartes de visite, ambrotypes, and tintypes—in museums, archives, and private collections. He has pieced together each individual’s life and fate based upon personal documents, military records, and pension files. These stories tell of ordinary men who became fighters, of the prejudice they faced, and of the challenges they endured. African American Faces of the Civil War makes an important contribution to a comparatively understudied aspect of the war and provides a fascinating look into lives that helped shape America.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Coddington, assistant managing editor at The Chronicle of Higher Education, follows the pattern of his two remarkable albums (Faces of the Confederacy and Faces of the Civil War) with 77 succinct sketches of African Americans, illustrated with images drawn from cartes de visite, ambrotypes, and tintypes. Of the roughly 200,000 men who enlisted in the army and navy and the thousands who were servants "to officers in the Union and Confederate armies," only a few have entered the pages of more familiar history (e.g., Martin Delany, Robert Small). Coddington helps rectify that lapse, uncovering the past and honoring the service of his 77 subjects. The "types of participants" encompass Frederick Douglass's son, Lewis, and Andrew Chandler's slave, Silas, the men of the famed 54th Massachusetts Regiment and of the obscure 108th U.S. Colored Infantry (Kentucky), illiterate escaped slaves and educated free-born African Americans, drummers and undercooks, servants and seamen, even paid substitutes for draftees. Coddington's use of African American-owned newspapers and pension records is groundbreaking. It does nothing to diminish the depth and precision of Coddington's research to say that each compelling vignette prompts the reader to hurriedly flip to the next one. Photos. (Oct.)
History: Reviews of New Books
There are many books of Civil War letters, and photographs are common. But this book is a first: a collection of identified portraits accompanied by brief narratives of the subjects' lives.

Booklist - Vanessa Bush
An engaging look at a neglected part of the history of the American Civil War.

Le Journal de la Photographie - Sara Rosen
African American Faces of the Civil War: An Album serves us well to remind us of those who came before and honor them.

Charlotte Observer - John David Smith
A stunning album of 77 portrait photographs–cartes de visite, ambrotypes and tintypes... African American Faces of the Civil War provides a unique visual record, quite literally documenting the faces of war at a transitional moment in U.S. history. Lincoln’s black warriors helped to overthrow slavery and to restore the Union. Their descendants spent the next century fighting new battles for true equality.

Civil War News - Jonathan A. Noyalas
Coddington's thoughtfully crafted and cogently written study, replete with an insightful foreword by J. Matthew Gallman on the African-American experience, will appeal to readers interested in the efforts of African Americans and the war's larger military, social and global consequences.

From the Publisher

Coddington highlights the bravery of African American soldiers at a time when many considered them to be cowards, and shows the Civil War from the perspective of African Americans fighting for freedom, dignity, respect, and equality.

The Johns Hopkins University Press

Civil War Monitor - Glenn David Brasher
A fascinating work that captures the soldiers at a moment when they proudly served a country that was only just then beginning to reassess their citizenship rights. Because they risked everything to fight for emancipation and the Union, the Civil War’s African-American soldiers deserve to never be forgotten. Coddington’s work will help to ensure that that no one will ever need to be reminded that 'there were men of color who... fought.'

Civil War Book Review
The sesquicentennial observance of the Civil War era will be marked by numerous publications of works. Few book will be as fascinating and informative as African American Faces of the Civil War... This third book on soldiers in the Civil War, frican American Faces of the Civil War, is a well-documented and a valuable work, It is an outstanding contribution to the scholarship on the Civil War and African American History in general.

Choice

Coddington highlights the bravery of African American soldiers at a time when many considered them to be cowards, and shows the Civil War from the perspective of African Americans fighting for freedom, dignity, respect, and equality.

Kansas History - Kelly Erby
African American Faces of the Civil War, like the photographs it presents, captures the moment when black men in America transitioned from slaves to soldiers and the Civil War became about more than merely preserving the Union. Unlike any single photograph, however, Coddington's book depicts this moment from a diverse variety of perspectives

Daguerrian Society
Coddington exposes the good and the bad... The book is a must-read for all Civil War buffs and contains important historical data to complete a full circumference of Civil War history.

Journal of America's Military Past - Roger D. Cunningham
All those who are fascinated by Civil war photography or black history in general will find this volume to be a most enjoyable read. The book helps us to remember that during the Civil War a significant number of black men were willing to fight for their freedom or to help secure freedom for their fellow African Americans.

Indiana Magazine of History - Deborah Willis
In developing parallels between the control of one's image in narratives and the use of the photograph as biography, Coddington makes a compelling argument for the reader to rethink the place of photography in telling history. His use of photographs as visual text allows the reader to reimagine history through the photographer's leans. This book maps new methodologies for researching and writing about photographs and plumbs the hidden history of the Civil War narrative.

The Black History Channel
African American Faces of the Civil War is just lovely. The prose is fast-paced but personal, and readers will feel as if these soldiers are telling their stories in their own words. Mr. Coddington’s research is stunning, his details are meticulous, and he even went the next step and thoughtfully enlarged the pictures in his rare collection so that they are alive with power and detail.

Coddington highlights the bravery of African American soldiers at a time when many considered them to be cowards, and shows the Civil War from the perspective of African Americans fighting for freedom, dignity, respect, and equality.

The Johns Hopkins University Press

John David Smith

A stunning album of 77 portrait photographs–cartes de visite, ambrotypes and tintypes... African American Faces of the Civil War provides a unique visual record, quite literally documenting the faces of war at a transitional moment in U.S. history. Lincoln’s black warriors helped to overthrow slavery and to restore the Union. Their descendants spent the next century fighting new battles for true equality.

Vanessa Bush

An engaging look at a neglected part of the history of the American Civil War.

Sara Rosen

African American Faces of the Civil War: An Album serves us well to remind us of those who came before and honor them.

Jonathan A. Noyalas

Coddington's thoughtfully crafted and cogently written study, replete with an insightful foreword by J. Matthew Gallman on the African-American experience, will appeal to readers interested in the efforts of African Americans and the war's larger military, social and global consequences.

Glenn David Brasher

A fascinating work that captures the soldiers at a moment when they proudly served a country that was only just then beginning to reassess their citizenship rights. Because they risked everything to fight for emancipation and the Union, the Civil War’s African-American soldiers deserve to never be forgotten. Coddington’s work will help to ensure that that no one will ever need to be reminded that 'there were men of color who... fought.'

Library Journal
About 200,000 African Americans, whether free or escaped slaves, enlisted in the Union army or navy. A dedicated collector of Civil War photographs, Coddington presents cartes de visite, ambrotypes, and tintypes that bring us startlingly face to face with many of these individuals, each with a biographical profile by Coddington.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781421406251
Publisher:
Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date:
08/20/2012
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
1,307,565
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.70(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Ronald S. Coddington is assistant managing editor at The Chronicle of Higher Education. His work has appeared in USA Today, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and the San Jose Mercury News. He is a contributing writer to the New York Times Disunion series and writes a monthly column for The Civil War News. He is the author of Faces of the Confederacy and Faces of the Civil War, both published by Johns Hopkins.

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