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Campfires of Freedom: The Camp Life of Black Soldiers During the Civil War Hardcover – November, 2002


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Kent State Univ Pr; First Edition edition (November 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0873387090
  • ISBN-13: 978-0873387095
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,083,431 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jeff on August 4, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Monash University (Australia) history professor Keith P. Wilson outlines three broad purposes in writing his new book on the camp life of the American Civil War's United States Colored Troops (USCT): "to describe the soldiers' lives...to bring into focus the emotional texture of military life...[and] to analyze the process of cultural change that occurred within the army camps" (xiii). Why camp life? As Wilson states, camp life helped the African-American, "divided from the mainstream of American cultural life," to "bridge this divide, and to negotiate the changes necessary to meet the demands of army life...to reconfigure race relations and give black people a new definition...to challenge existing notions of race and relationship." (211). In exploring these issues, Wilson achieves his purposes quite well.

African-Americans - both freemen and ex-slaves - enlisted for a variety of reasons, from patriotism to sheer poverty. Like many of their white counterparts, they attributed theological significance to the war. Military service for those relegated to lower social classes has been always been a medium for social advancement, and this is how Northern black leaders envisioned such service for the black soldier (53). Though ignored or marginalized by Northern and Southern societies, Wilson shows that like American society at large, that of the African-American grew and progressed amidst the atmosphere of impending secession and subsequent war. So circumstanced, the camps would evolve and vary in regard to physical environment, leadership styles of officers and non-commissioned officers, quality of training received, and the effects of combat experiences. Each camp had their chaplains, cooks, camp followers, singers of songs, and writers of verse.
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Campfires of Freedom: The Camp Life of Black Soldiers During the Civil War
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