Web Faces of War





African American Faces of the Civil War

By Dave Nevelle, Editor
Military Images Magazine
March-April 2013

Like the author's previous volumes—Faces of the Civil War: An Album of Union Soldiers and Their Stories (2004) and Faces of the Confederacy: An Album of Southern Soldiers and Their Stories (2008)—Ron Coddington's latest, African American Faces of the Civil War: An Album, presents an exceptional array of photographs and deeply researched biographical sketches. In this case, Coddington focuses on African Americans who served in the Union army and Navy during the Civil War, making a significant contribution in bringing the war to a conclusion in 1865.

In comparison to those of their white counterparts, photographs of African American soldiers and sailors are scarce, but in this volume, Coddington has done a fine job is assembling ninety-five such images. Each photograph (many previously unpublished) is accompanies by an illuminating biography of its subject, fleshing out the soldiers' life before, during, and if he survived, after the war ended. To the publishers credit, the reproduction quality of the images is outstanding, representing as they do a cross-section of the famous (like the 54th Massachusetts) and the not-so-famous (108th USCT), military units. Among the compelling stories told in African American Faces, are Jeremiah Asher, chaplain of the 6th USCT, whose life was claimed by typhoid fever while ministering to sick soldiers in a field hospital; Sergeants Milton Holland and Christian Fleetwood, whose valor both resulted in being awarded the Medal of Honor; and Acting Assistant Surgeon Anderson R. Abbott, one of a small number of African American surgeons in the Army, who knew President Lincoln and was shocked by his death, lamenting that Lincoln's untimely demise was a "loss to the negro race."

In conclusion, anyone interested in the African American experience during the Civil War, will benefit by adding this fine book to their libraries—certainly this reviewer did.

NOTE: The reviewer incorrectly stated the number of images as ninety-five; the total is seventy-seven.

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