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Troubled Refuge : Struggling for Freedom in the Civil War
by Chandra Manning


Overview - From the author of What This Cruel War Was Over, a vivid portrait of the Union army's escaped-slave refugee camps and how they shaped the course of emancipation and citizenship in the United States.

Even before shots were fired at Fort Sumter, slaves recognized that their bondage was at the root of the war they knew was coming, and they began running to the Union army.  Read more...


 
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More About Troubled Refuge by Chandra Manning
 
 
 
Overview
From the author of What This Cruel War Was Over, a vivid portrait of the Union army's escaped-slave refugee camps and how they shaped the course of emancipation and citizenship in the United States.

Even before shots were fired at Fort Sumter, slaves recognized that their bondage was at the root of the war they knew was coming, 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--some 12 to 15 percent of the Confederacy's slave population--took unimaginable risks to reach them, and they became the first places where many Northerners would come to know former slaves en masse, with reverberating consequences for emancipation, its progress, and the Reconstruction that followed.

Drawing on records of the Union and Confederate armies, the letters and diaries of soldiers, transcribed testimonies of former slaves, and more, Chandra Manning allows us to accompany the black men, women, and children who sought out the Union army in hopes of achieving autonomy for themselves and their communities. Ranging from the stories of individuals to those of armies on the move to debates in the halls of Congress, Troubled Refuge probes the particular and deeply significant reality of the contraband camps: what they were really like and how former slaves and Union soldiers warily united there, forging a dramatically new but highly imperfect alliance between the government and African Americans. That alliance, which would outlast the war, helped destroy slavery and warded 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.

Integrating a wealth of new findings, Manning casts in wholly original light what it was like to escape slavery, how emancipation happened, and how citizenship in the United States was transformed. This reshaping of hard structures of power would matter not only for slaves turned citizens, but for all Americans.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780307271204
  • ISBN-10: 030727120X
  • Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
  • Publish Date: August 2016
  • Page Count: 416
  • Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.1 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds


Related Categories

Books > History > United States - Civil War
Books > History > African American
Books > Social Science > Slavery

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2016-05-23
  • Reviewer: Staff

Many readers are familiar with the idea that the emancipation of American slaves came as the result of the Civil War, but Manning (What This Cruel War Was Over), an assistant professor of history at Georgetown University, illustrates in this enlightening study that many enslaved men, women, and children—nearly half a million people—took advantage of wartime chaos and the proximity of Union forces to escape their owners and seek refuge among the soldiers. These “contrabands,” as they came to be called, experienced what was for many their first contact with the federal government. The relationship between these fugitives and the Union Army was unequal, yet based on mutual need: a sanctuary from enslavement for the former, and services for the latter, including laundry, nursing, and ditch digging. As Manning makes clear, “freed people enjoyed more success in obtaining their objectives under military authority than they did under civil authority,” and thus the war’s end in 1865 did not see the great majority of enslaved people gain their freedom. But when the former Confederate states were unwilling to transform slaves into citizens, Manning shows how the memory of the wartime alliance between contrabands and the Union Army made the federal government at least an occasional supporter of black rights over the next 100 years. (Aug.)

 
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