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

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 ...

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

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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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A richly detailed account. . . . Skillfully combines military and social history."—The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

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

"A welcome contrast to the usual regimental-level studies of Blacks in union uniforms."—Multicultural Review

"Provides a new understanding of the spectrum of the black experience during the Civil War."—Courier

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781469615066
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 2/25/2008
  • Series: Civil War America
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 440
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.20 (d)

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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Table of Contents

Preface     xi
Introduction     1
Raising and Training the Black Regiments     19
A Fine, Fighting Regiment     67
Issues of "Civilized" Warfare     111
A Unit of Last Resort     153
Black Workers in Blue Uniforms     187
Families of the Soldiers during the War     215
Service in the Postwar South     255
Black Veterans in a Gray State     297
Conclusion     323
Notes     329
Bibliography     389
Index     407
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