The titular firebrand in this revealing history is not an individual but a curious and ambitious project: the establishment, in March 1863, of a permanent Union outpost in Florida to serve as a haven for fugitive slaves and to "help ignite the destruction of Southern slavery from within." In readable prose and relying exclusively on primary sources, historian Ash (When the Yankees Came) tells the little-known but crucial story of how 900 newly freed slaves, under the leadership of white abolitionist officers, captured Jacksonville. They fought alongside white Union troops and liberated slaves until their mission was abruptly aborted by their commanding officer, Gen. David Hunter, one of the dimmest stars in the Union Army firmament. Ash makes a strong case that the successes of the two black regiments changed the course of war by convincing President Lincoln to authorize the full-scale enlistment of African-Americans. By the end of the war, some 200,000 black troops had served in the Union Army. Without them, Ash contends, "the Union might very well have failed to conquer the Confederacy." (July)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Firebrand of Liberty: The Story of Two Black Regiments That Changed the Course of the Civil Warby Stephen V. Ash
A nearly forgotten Civil War episode is restored to history in this masterful account.In March 1863, nine hundred black Union soldiers, led by white officers, invaded Florida and seized the town of Jacksonville. They were among the first African American troops in the Northern army, and their expedition into enemy territory was like no other in the Civil War./p>
A nearly forgotten Civil War episode is restored to history in this masterful account.In March 1863, nine hundred black Union soldiers, led by white officers, invaded Florida and seized the town of Jacksonville. They were among the first African American troops in the Northern army, and their expedition into enemy territory was like no other in the Civil War. It was intended as an assault on slavery by which thousands would be freed. At the center of the story is prominent abolitionist Colonel Thomas Wentworth Higginson, who led one of the regiments. After waging battle for three weeks, Higginson and his men were mysteriously ordered to withdraw, their mission a seeming failure. Yet their successes in resisting the Confederates and collaborating with white Union forces persuaded President Abraham Lincoln to begin full-scale recruitment of black troops, a momentous decision that helped turned the tide of the war. Using long-neglected primary sources, historian Stephen V. Ash’s stirring narrative re-creates this event with insight, vivid characterizations, and a keen sense of drama.
Ash (history, Univ. of Tennessee, A Year in the South: 1865) here addresses a fascinating and little-known chapter of the Civil War: the capture of Jacksonville by white and black Union regiments in March 1863. His book is a bit unfocused. Clearly, he wants to profile white abolitionist colonel Thomas Wentworth Higginson, who commanded both black and white regiments during this campaign. But who is the "firebrand" in the title? Higginson himself? Or the black regiments who surely merited the term? Ash might have been better off writing either a full-scale biography of Higgenson or an in-depth military history of the campaign. Nevertheless, this book adds to the literature. First, although much has been written about black regiments, little of that material covers the Jacksonville campaign. Second, Ash argues persuasively that the campaign's success helped Lincoln and the Northern public push ahead to recruit more blacks into the Union army-hence the subtitle's claim that Jacksonville changed the course of the war. Approachably written for both students and history buffs, this book is recommended for all public and academic libraries.
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Meet the Author
Stephen V. Ash is a professor of history at the University of Tennessee. He is the author of several books on the Civil War, including A Year in the South: Four Lives in 1865. He lives in Knoxville, Tennessee.
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