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Troubled Refuge: Struggling for Freedom in…
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Troubled Refuge: Struggling for Freedom in the Civil War

by Chandra Manning

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 030727120X, Hardcover)

A fascinating and original portrait of the escaped-slave refugee camps and how they shaped the course of emancipation and black citizenship.

By the end of the Civil War, nearly half a million slaves had taken refuge behind Union lines, in what became known as "contraband camps." These were crowded, dangerous places, yet some 12-15 percent of the Confederacy's slave population took almost unimaginable risks to reach them, and they became the first places Northerners came to know former slaves en masse. Ranging from stories of individuals to those of armies on the move to the debates in Congress, Troubled Refuge probes what the camps were really like and how former slaves and Union soldiers warily united there. This alliance, which would outlast the war, helped to destroy slavery and ward off the surprisingly tenacious danger of re-enslavement. But it also raised unsettling questions about the relationship between American civil and military authority, and reshaped the meaning of American citizenship, to the benefit as well as the lasting cost of African-Americans.

(retrieved from Amazon Wed, 20 Apr 2016 01:35:38 -0400)

Even before shots were fired at Fort Sumter, slaves recognized that their bondage was at the root of the war, and they began running to the Union army. By the war's end, nearly half a million had taken refuge behind Union lines in improvised "contraband camps". These were crowded and dangerous places, with conditions approaching those of a humanitarian crisis, yet families and individuals took unimaginable risks to reach them, and they became the first places where many Northerners would come to know former slaves en masse. Drawing on records of the Union and Confederate armies, the letters and diaries of soldiers, transcribed testimonies of former slaves, and more, Manning sweeps us along, from the contraband camps, sharing insight and stories of individuals and armies on the move, to debates in the halls of Congress. The alliances between former slaves and Union soldiers which were warily begun in the contraband camps would forge a dramatically new but highly imperfect alliance between the government and the African Americans. That alliance would outlast the war, and help destroy slavery and ward off the very acute and surprisingly tenacious danger of re-enslavement. It also raised, for the first time, humanitarian questions about refugees in wartime and legal questions about civil and military authority with which we still wrestle, as well as redefined American citizenship, to the benefit but also to the lasting cost of African Americans. --… (more)

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