Levin also investigates the roles that African Americans actually performed in the Confederate army, including personal body servants and forced laborers. He demonstrates that regardless of the dangers these men faced in camp, on the march, and on the battlefield, their legal status remained unchanged. Even long after the guns fell silent, Confederate veterans and other writers remembered these men as former slaves and not as soldiers, an important reminder that how the war is remembered often runs counter to history.
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When parents discover that their schoolchildren are learning about black Confederates, when visitors read a display at a historic site that celebrates black Confederates, and when undergraduates encounter hagiographies of black Confederates online, they will now have a rigorous and trustworthy resource at their disposal to dismantle this dangerous and corrosive distortion of history.W. Fitzhugh Brundage, author of Civil Torture: An American Tradition, a Pulitzer Prize finalist
The pose one sees in photographs of Confederate soldiers with their seemingly loyal 'camp slaves' is in microcosm what the issue of 'black Confederates' became in our own timea 'pose' by neo-Confederates seeking legitimacy for their fool's cause. Kevin Levin has provided this mythic problem what it dearly needs: a carefully researched and beautifully written history, first of wartime itself, then of the Lost Cause memorial period, and then of the Civil War sesquicentennial in which the question of blacks in gray would not die. Levin's book needs to be widely read as a rich history drawing the life out of a lethal narrative of wish fulfillment.David W. Blight, author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom