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Georgia Historical Quarterly
In the not too distant past, almost all Civil War publications seem to have consisted of rehashes of selected major battles and leaders. Sadly, some scholars would like to see this genre return to those "good old days" and avoid such topics as slavery, women, internal political, dissention, (real) intelligence gathering, etc. However, the story of these "other Civil Wars" will not be denied.
This particular work looks at the subject of military racial atrocities during the Civil War; it is a collection of essays ranging from Albert Castel's 1958 article on the Fort Pillow massacre to works prepared specifically for this volume. The title refers to the traditional symbol for no quarter being offered. In a war about racism and slavery, the use of black soldiers, many of them former slaves, raised numerous issues in the opposing armies but especially about the treatment of black prisoners of war and their white officers. Some of the eleven chapters, such as Bryce Suderow's piece on the killing of black soldiers in the Battle of the Crater, seem exceptionally concise, but all of these contributions represent in depth research and balanced conclusions.
This book also has remarkable scope for such a compact work. Howard Westwood discusses the aftermath of the battle at Charleston made famous in the movie Glory and David Frisby joins Castel in looking at the Fort Pillow massacre. However, Anne J. Bailey, David J. Coles, Gregory J. W. Urwin, and Chad L. Williams look at far less-well-known incidents, such as the battles of Plymouth and Olustee, in Arkansas, Florida, North Carolina, and other theaters that have lacked adequate study. James G. Hollandsworth, Jr.'s contribution discusses the executions of white officers of black troops, and Mark Grimsley draws conclusions on the broad topic.
Black Flag Over Dixie does have limits that hopefully future volumes will address, as hinted at by some of the above essays. For example, Georgia's Colquitt's brigade had the distinction of fighting black soldiers in battle in Florida, South Carolina, and Virginia. How this unique experience affected the men of this unit from often anti-war North Georgia would make an interesting topic. The treatment of the largely Georgian black Forty-fourth United States Colored Infantry following the fall of Dalton, Georgia, in October 1864 deserves a place on any roster of Civil War racial atrocities. However, that list should also include the actions by black soldiers under the fanatical abolitionist Gen. Edward Wild in Wilkes County, Georgia, and elsewhere.
This reviewer looks forward to the volumes that will expand on the excellent work begun here, although they will have a tough act to follow.
— Robert Scott Davis