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Embattled Freedom: Journeys through the Civil War's Slave Refugee Camps

Embattled Freedom: Journeys through the Civil War's Slave Refugee Camps

by Amy Murrell Taylor
Embattled Freedom: Journeys through the Civil War's Slave Refugee Camps

Embattled Freedom: Journeys through the Civil War's Slave Refugee Camps

by Amy Murrell Taylor


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The Civil War was just days old when the first enslaved men, women, and children began fleeing their plantations to seek refuge inside the lines of the Union army as it moved deep into the heart of the Confederacy. In the years that followed, hundreds of thousands more followed in a mass exodus from slavery that would destroy the system once and for all. Drawing on an extraordinary survey of slave refugee camps throughout the country, Embattled Freedom reveals as never before the everyday experiences of these refugees from slavery as they made their way through the vast landscape of army-supervised camps that emerged during the war. Amy Murrell Taylor vividly reconstructs the human world of wartime emancipation, taking readers inside military-issued tents and makeshift towns, through commissary warehouses and active combat, and into the realities of individuals and families struggling to survive physically as well as spiritually. Narrating their journeys in and out of the confines of the camps, Taylor shows in often gripping detail how the most basic necessities of life were elemental to a former slave's quest for freedom and full citizenship.

The stories of individuals--storekeepers, a laundress, and a minister among them--anchor this ambitious and wide-ranging history and demonstrate with new clarity how contingent the slaves' pursuit of freedom was on the rhythms and culture of military life. Taylor brings new insight into the enormous risks taken by formerly enslaved people to find freedom in the midst of the nation's most destructive war.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781469643632
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 10/26/2018
Series: Civil War America
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: eBook
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 777,755
File size: 7 MB

About the Author

Amy Murrell Taylor is T. Marshall Hahn Jr. Professor of History at the University of Kentucky and author of The Divided Family in Civil War America.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

A wonderfully conceived and persuasive new history of wartime refugees—innovative in its organization, pathbreaking in its seamless integration of military and social history, and beautifully written.—Leslie Schwalm, University of Iowa

The largest hole in the literature on the American Civil War is the experience of African American slave refugees called contrabands. Amy Murrell Taylor ably fills much of that gap with her truly impressive book, Embattled Freedom. Taylor brings to life the remarkable journey of these African Americans, a migration that began with the thrill of fulfilling of their dream of freedom, but in most cases was fraught with hardship and misfortune. Without doubt, this book is the starting point for anyone interested in the saga and often tragedy that befell hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children in the wartime transition from slavery to freedom.—Joseph T. Glatthaar, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

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