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Thunder at the Gates : The Black Civil War Regiments That Redeemed America
by Douglas R Egerton


Overview - Co-winner of the 2017 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize
An intimate, authoritative history of the first black soldiers to fight in the Union Army during the Civil War
Soon after Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, abolitionists began to call for the creation of black regiments.
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More About Thunder at the Gates by Douglas R Egerton
 
 
 
Overview
Co-winner of the 2017 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize
An intimate, authoritative history of the first black soldiers to fight in the Union Army during the Civil War
Soon after Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, abolitionists began to call for the creation of black regiments. At first, the South and most of the North responded with outrage-southerners promised to execute any black soldiers captured in battle, while many northerners claimed that blacks lacked the necessary courage. Meanwhile, Massachusetts, long the center of abolitionist fervor, launched one of the greatest experiments in American history.
In Thunder at the Gates, Douglas Egerton chronicles the formation and battlefield triumphs of the 54th and 55th Massachusetts Infantry and the 5th Massachusetts Cavalry-regiments led by whites but composed of black men born free or into slavery. He argues that the most important battles of all were won on the field of public opinion, for in fighting with distinction the regiments realized the long-derided idea of full and equal citizenship for blacks.

A stirring evocation of this transformative episode, Thunder at the Gates offers a riveting new perspective on the Civil War and its legacy.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780465096640
  • ISBN-10: 0465096646
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publish Date: November 2016
  • Page Count: 448
  • Dimensions: 9.3 x 6 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.55 pounds


Related Categories

Books > History > United States - Civil War
Books > History > Military - United States
Books > History > African American

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2016-09-12
  • Reviewer: Staff

In this solid addition to the Civil War literature, Egerton (The Wars of Reconstruction), professor of history at Le Moyne College, revisits the story of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Division, one of the states three African-American regiments, and expands on it in important ways. He pushes the standard narrative of the 54th beyond the 1863 battle at Fort Wagner to the bloody fight at Olustee, Fla., and into the postwar period. Providing a fuller picture of black mens involvement in the war, Egerton weaves in the activities of the two other Massachusetts black regiments, the 55th Volunteer Infantry Division and the Fifth Cavalry. He emphasizes the ways race affected the mens military experiences, looking as much at individual black soldiers as white officers. The first part of the book sets up the assault on Fort Wagner, providing a smooth account of the creation of the 54th and the recruitment of Robert Gould Shaw, its best-known white officer. The second part provides additional documentation of pervasive racism. Despite their demonstrated bravery at Fort Wagner, black troops endured disproportionate assignment to fatigue duty, pay disparity, and unequal treatment under military law. Egertons fine work pays respect to the black soldiers who fought and died for black liberation. Illus. Agent: Daniel Greenberg, Levine Greenberg Rostan Literary. (Nov.)

 
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