Web Faces of War





African American Faces of the Civil War: An Album

Publishers Weekly
August 2012

Coddington, assistant managing editor at The Chronicle of Higher Education, follows the pattern of his two remarkable albums (Faces of the Confederacy and Faces of the Civil War) with 77 succinct sketches of African Americans, illustrated with images drawn from cartes de visite, ambrotypes, and tintypes. Of the roughly 200,000 men who enlisted in the army and navy and the thousands who were servants "to officers in the Union and Confederate armies," only a few have entered the pages of more familiar history (e.g., Martin Delany, Robert Small). Coddington helps rectify that lapse, uncovering the past and honoring the service of his 77 subjects. The "types of participants" encompass Frederick Douglass's son, Lewis, and Andrew Chandler's slave, Silas, the men of the famed 54th Massachusetts Regiment and of the obscure 108th U.S. Colored Infantry (Kentucky), illiterate escaped slaves and educated free-born African Americans, drummers and undercooks, servants and seamen, even paid substitutes for draftees. Coddington's use of African American-owned newspapers and pension records is groundbreaking. It does nothing to diminish the depth and precision of Coddington's research to say that each compelling vignette prompts the reader to hurriedly flip to the next one. Photos.

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