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A Grand Army of Black Men: Letters from African-American by Edwin S. Redkey

By Edwin S. Redkey

The Civil conflict stands brilliant within the collective reminiscence of the yankee public. There has continually been a profound curiosity within the topic, and particularly of Blacks' participation in and reactions to the struggle and the war's final result. nearly 200,000 African-American infantrymen fought for the Union within the Civil warfare. even supposing such a lot have been illiterate ex-slaves, a number of thousand have been good proficient, unfastened black males from the northern states. The 129 letters during this assortment have been written via black squaddies within the Union military in the course of the Civil conflict to black and abolitionist newspapers. they supply a different expression of the black voice that used to be intended for a public discussion board. The letters inform of the men's stories, their fears, and their hopes. They describe intimately their military days--the pleasure of strive against and the drudgery of digging trenches. a few letters supply brilliant descriptions of conflict; others protest racism; nonetheless others name eloquently for civil rights. Many describe their conviction that they're combating not just to unfastened the slaves yet to earn equivalent rights as electorate. those letters provide a rare photograph of the conflict and likewise demonstrate the intense expectancies, hopes, and finally the calls for that black infantrymen had for the future--for themselves and for his or her race. As first-person files of the Civil conflict, the letters are robust statements of the yankee dream of justice and equality, and of the human spirit.

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Extra resources for A Grand Army of Black Men: Letters from African-American Soldiers in the Union Army 1861-1865

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It has angered our men, and they say there must be retaliation. There is much talk in high places and by leading men, of a call being made for the blacks of the North; for Africa to stretch forth her dusky arms, and to enter the army against the Southern slaves, and by opposing, free them. Shall we do it? Not until our rights as men are acknowledged by the government in good faith. We desire to free the slaves, and to build up a negro Nationality in Hayti; but we must bide our own time, and choose the manner by which it shall be accomplished.

It had powerful symbolic value because it was the original home of secession. It also was a major smuggling port. Its harbor was guarded by several islands: Fort Sumter sat in the middle of the harbor; Sullivan's Island guarded the northern approach; James Island defended the inner harbor; Morris Island protected the main channel to the sea. The Confederates built a ring of forts on the islands to fight off attacks by navy ships. One of the most important was Fort Wagner, a large pile of sand and logs that aimed many guns at both the main channel and the narrow, swampy sand of Morris Island.

Johnson, 8th Connecticut Infantry, Roanoke Island, North Carolina, February 10, 1862; P&P, February 27, 1862) Since Saturday, everybody here has been in a perfect state of excitement, and up to this morning I have not had an opportunity to examine the field of battle, and its surroundings; but now that I have done so, I will endeavor to give you a faint idea of things as they are here, and then you will be able to appreciate the importance of our victory. The enemy was attacked at two different points at the same time.

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