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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
When the Civil War began, it was a war between the white army of the North and the white army of the South. While the fate of the entire black population of America was at stake, they were not allowed to enter the fray. But a year into the war, when northern generals began thinking that any soldier was a good soldier, all-black units were established.
Starting with a little history about the participation of black men in the army before the Civil War, Noah Trudeau picks up the story in 1862, when the units of freeborn black men and freed and former slaves were being formed, and gives a detailed military history of their participation in the battles of the war. Often considered second-rate soldiers by their commanding generals, the units were often relegated to minor battles in unstrategic locations. But their efforts were critical to the North's success.
Trudeau, whose Out of the Storm captures the chaos and destruction at the end of the war, is a skillful Civil War historian. He knows his material and is comfortable with the complex details of the events he describes. Like Men of War, using the personal letters and diaries of soldiers as well as the military records and newspaper accounts of their exploits, brings the men of the U.S. Colored Troops to life: Free and slave-born, literate and illiterate, brave and ill-prepared, the men Trudeau describes are a varied population of American soldiers. This is perhaps the greatest strength of Like Men of War and its greatest contribution to the historical record.
This is history not told before insuchdepth. Immediately after the war and well into this century, the contributions of black soldiers were forgotten or intentionally ignored. Only in recent decades has serious scholarship looked at the black regiments and their roles in the war. Like Men of War pulls human stories from that academic research and makes the victories and defeats of African-American soldiers part of the widely known Civil War history.