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Freedom for Themselves: North Carolina's Black Soldiers in the Civil War Era
     

Freedom for Themselves: North Carolina's Black Soldiers in the Civil War Era

by Richard M. Reid
 

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More than 5,000 North Carolina slaves escaped from their white owners to serve in the Union army during the Civil War. In Freedom for Themselves Richard Reid explores the stories of black soldiers from four regiments raised in North Carolina. Constructing a multidimensional portrait of the soldiers and their families, he provides a new understanding of the

Overview

More than 5,000 North Carolina slaves escaped from their white owners to serve in the Union army during the Civil War. In Freedom for Themselves Richard Reid explores the stories of black soldiers from four regiments raised in North Carolina. Constructing a multidimensional portrait of the soldiers and their families, he provides a new understanding of the spectrum of black experience during and after the war.

Reid examines the processes by which black men enlisted and were trained, the history of each regiment, the lives of the soldiers' families during the war, and the postwar experiences of the veterans and their families living in an ex-Confederate state. By considering four regiments from a single state, Reid presents a cross section of a wide range of experiences and assesses what experiences proved largely universal among black troops. The full freedom they fought for and dreamed of having when the war ended did not materialize in their lifetimes, but Reid shows that many of them found in the army a kind of equality that was denied them in civilian life. The postwar benefits afforded to white veterans seldom crossed the color line. The accolades African American soldiers received, Reid demonstrates, came not from a new southern society, but from within their own communities, where black soldiers were seen and recognized as heroes.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
The first state study of African American soldiers in the Union Army. . . . Promises new research possibilities beyond the traditional view of patriotic black troops sacrificing for the Union. . . . Recommended.--CHOICE

Outstanding. . . . Provides an invaluable window on the black experience in the Civil War era.--Journal of Southern History

"Will become essential reading for its scholarly audience--and it will probably fare well among popular readers.--West Virginia History

The importance of Reid's work is not that it reiterates the similar experiences of black soldiers, but displays their differences. . . . Gives historians an excellent comprehensive view with fresh insights of African Americans who served in the Union army.--Louisiana History

An admirable addition to our knowledge of a cross-section of black regiments.--America's Civil War

The best study of an African American unit during the Civil War. . . . Provides a new and much fuller understanding of how African American soldiers experienced the Civil War.--Civil War History

An excellent social history of North Carolina's African American regiments in the civil war. . . . Superb scholarship and a model for future state-level social histories of Civil War military service.--Journal of American History

Informative . . . effectively synthesizes military and social history, extends our understanding of the challenges confronting African-American Civil War soldiers and veterans, and suggests future areas of investigation.--Georgia Historical Quarterly

Well researched, written, and annotated. . . . A most welcome addition to the growing body of literature about the military service of African Americans during the Civil War.--The Journal of America's Military Past

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781469615066
Publisher:
The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date:
02/25/2008
Series:
Civil War America Series
Edition description:
1
Pages:
440
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.20(d)

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
This well-researched and well-argued book should stand as the definitive history of North Carolina's four black regiments in the Civil War. Reid is the first scholar to examine several USCT regiments from one state and utilize them collectively to sketch a composite view of black troops recruited in the South during the Civil War. Freedom for Themselves offers much new detail that completes our understanding of who constituted the men of the USCT, how they experienced the war and its immediate aftermath, and the impact of their service on their families.--John David Smith, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Meet the Author

Richard M. Reid is associate professor of history at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. He is author of The Upper Ottawa Valley to 1855.

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