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Bluejackets and Contrabands: African Americans and the Union Navy

Overview

Bluejackets and ContrabandsAfrican Americans and the Union NavyBarbara Brooks Tomblin

Despite the wealth of information published on the Civil War, the role played by escaped slaves in the Union blockade along the Atlantic coast has been largely overlooked. In Bluejackets and Contrabands, Barbara Brooks Tomblin reveals how African American refugees seeking freedom in the North joined the Union forces, serving in a variety of capacities.

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Bluejackets and Contrabands: African Americans and the Union Navy

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Overview

Bluejackets and ContrabandsAfrican Americans and the Union NavyBarbara Brooks Tomblin

Despite the wealth of information published on the Civil War, the role played by escaped slaves in the Union blockade along the Atlantic coast has been largely overlooked. In Bluejackets and Contrabands, Barbara Brooks Tomblin reveals how African American refugees seeking freedom in the North joined the Union forces, serving in a variety of capacities.

The Civil War provided a unique opportunity for African American refugees seeking avenues of escape to the North. Some were liberated by joint army-navy operations in the South, while others fled to Union Navy blockade vessels off the coast or to the Union lines. Due to their sheer numbers, the refugees who reached Union forces created problems for the military by consuming food, water, and other resources, and by crowding naval vessels. Regarded as contraband of war, former slaves became known as contrabands after the passage of the First Confiscation Act of 1861, which permitted the seizure of property used in the Confederate war effort, including slaves. The Union Navy placed some contrabands in colonies and enlisted the able-bodied men as sailors. Others were employed as river pilots, mechanics, laundresses, cooks, hospital attendants, and even spies.

Drawing from the official records and firsthand accounts such as slave narratives, diaries, and letters, Tomblin presents a vivid description of the events that redefined the Union Navy and the newly emancipated slaves. Bluejackets and Contrabands adds new depth to our understanding of the vital contributions of contrabands to the Union war effort. Barbara Brooks Tomblin is the author of With Utmost Spirit: Allied Naval Operations in the Mediterranean, 1942—1945 and G.I. Nightingales: The Army Nurse Corps in World War II.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Tomblin has done an admirable job revealing a crucial but little-known aspect of United States naval history during the Civil War. Her work will be enlightening for both scholarly and general audiences."—American Studies" —
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813125541
  • Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
  • Publication date: 9/3/2009
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Barbara Brooks Tomblin is the author of With Utmost Spirit: Allied Naval Operations in the Mediterranean, 1942-1945.

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