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  Faces of Freedom:
An Album of Men of Color in the Civil War

This is the working title for my forthcoming volume about African American participants in the Civil War. Expected to be released in the fall of 2012.

From the preface

The period that began with an announcement by Abraham Lincoln of the Emancipation Proclamation, and ended with his assassination and the surrender of the armies formed by the states in rebellion marked a dramatic transformation for African Americans. It lasted no more than a heartbeat along the national lifeline, from September 1862 through May 1865.

An age without a name, wedged between war and peace, enslavement and freedom. Thirty-two months during which the linkage of war to the abolition of slavery called ordinary citizens to examine their conscience and faith, and to act on the great ethical questions and moral themes that had rippled across society for generations.

It was the dawn of a new age of equality. Here, along the frayed edges of the ragged tears ripped across the social, economic and political fabric of the country, those who embraced liberty and justice for all began the arduous process of building a new culture.

Among those in the vanguard of change were men of color who enlisted in the Union army and navy. Roughly 200,000 strong, they joined the fight for their independence from all parts of the continent. Some escaped from masters determined to keep them in servitude. Others released by owners who glimpsed a future where freedom reigned, and practical-minded individuals who saw the end of slavery in sight.

These men fought their own politicians and generals for the same opportunities for advancement as their white comrades.

Some joined the post-war army and became Buffalo Soldiers.

Another group that participated are thousands of men of African descent who acted as servants to Union and Confederate officers. Their stories are also part of the African American war experience.

The personal accounts of these men are the transformative stories of the Civil War.



Washburn and Pierson

A copy of the manuscript prior to its submission on March 10, 2011.


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