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Like Men of War: Black Troops in the Civil War 1862-1865 Paperback – January 1, 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books (January 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316853445
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316853446
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 5.4 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,016,263 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Although countless books have been written about the Civil War, the role of black troops has been consistently underrepresented until recently. Nearly 180,000 of them fought--mostly for the North, but a handful even took up arms for the slaveholding South. Many wanted to serve at the start of the conflict, but a variety of factors kept them on the sidelines. Until Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation in 1862, many Union leaders--including the president--held that the war was not about slavery. Racist views caused some to question further the value of black soldiers; there was also genuine concern about how Confederates would treat captured blacks.

But, as Noah Andre Trudeau reveals, black soldiers demonstrated bravery and professionalism from the moment they suited up. He recounts well-known events, such as the 54th Massachusetts' attack on Fort Wagner, as well as less familiar ones, such as blacks' involvement in the war's last directed combat one month after Lee's surrender. There were atrocities, too: in 1864, Confederates slaughtered black prisoners of war at Fort Pillow (Southern historians once disputed this brutal act of cold-blooded murder, but most scholars accept it as true today). Although Trudeau sometimes sacrifices his narrative drive to excessive detail, Like Men of War remains a compelling book full of strong battle scenes. --John J. Miller

From Library Journal

At last, the service of black soldiers in the Union Army during the Civil War is receiving the recognition it deserves. Building on Dudley T. Cornish's pioneering work in The Sable Arm (1956; Univ. Pr. of Kansas, 1987. reprint) and the detailed discussion of officer-soldier relations in Joseph T. Glatthaar's Forged in Battle (LJ 10/1/89), Trudeau, the author of a trilogy covering military operations during the last year of the war (e.g., Out of the Storm, LJ 3/1/94), presents the fullest study of the battlefield experiences of black Union regiments. Some 60 maps help the reader make sense of famous engagements (Fort Wagner and the Crater) and notorious incidents (Fort Pillow) in which black soldiers fought, as well as scores of lesser-known clashes. Rich archival research is integrated into a lively narrative that places the raising and deployment of black regiments in broader contexts. This book will become a basic source of information on the subject. Recommended for public and academic collections.?Brooks D. Simpson, Arizona State Univ., Tempe
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Aussie Reader on July 11, 1998
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Noah Trudeau is a great author of Civil War history and in this book he once again shows that he is a craftsman of his art. This is only one of two books I have every read that have showed the role that negroes played in the military history of the United States. I have read many books on the American Civil War and very few have ever mentioned U.S. Black Troops, at long last this gap in American history has been filled. The narrative is excellent and the author has researched his topic well, covering almost every major skirmish and action undertaken by these troops. Its a shame that these actions weren't in more detail & depth but I suppose the author had constraints on time and size (the book is 548 pages). He has placed each action in context within the war and the political feeling at the time. The author has used letters, diaries and after-action reports of the participants and others involved (reporters & politicians). Overall the book offers the reader a very good overview of the role of coloured troops during the Civil War.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By T. Jordan on October 18, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book offers a history lesson of the Negro within the ranks of our great military, some ver positive and some very negative. It is well written and presents a good picture of the civil war and fighting as a black soldier. As a retired military officer, I thoroughly enjoyed this read and would like to see more research in this area.

Per Mr. Ford's (a write-in) comments on black soldiers and their inability to stand and fight, I will offer the following comments:

Some of the most important tenants in producing successful soldiers are training, discipline, leadership and morale. Not making excuses for any soldier of any racial background who flee any battlefield (or Mr. Fords comments), I think that if one properly researches the history of the black soldier during the civil war, one would find that they were not in many instances very well trained, disciplined, nor led. There primary function was to perform menial duties (grave diggers, personal aides, and other non combat related duties). In addition, to many white officers, it was considered a slap in the face to command black troops. So I oft wonder who trained them and how creditable was the training? In addition, who led these men and what were their qualifications to lead?

Although not a very appeasing statement, but American soldiers throughout history have been routed on the battlefield. This is demonstrated throughout the Civil War by both Union and Confederate soldiers. During the First Battle of Manassas, union soldiers ran after being routed by confederate forces. Also, during the battle at Gettysburg confederate soldiers fled the battlefield in the face of adversity and in some cases after poor leadership decisions.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 14, 1998
Format: Hardcover
I have read all four of Noah Andre Trudeau's
Civil War histories, and have been engrossed
and enlightened by each one. "Like Men of
War" is superb in it's depth and humanity.
I am constantly amazed at Trudeau's research.
He manages to find material that eludes others.
Here, by using quotes from "colored" papers
and Pension files, he manages to give
the black soldier an authentic, moving voice
I highly recommend this book.
--Robert Malesky
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6 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Tseideman@aol.com on February 2, 1998
Format: Hardcover
There is a horrific undercurrent to the book the publisher and even author seem to miss--the relentless, Bosnian-war like brutality of the Southern Soldiers towards black soldiers. Never again will I be decived in any way by those who speak of the Romance of the Lost cause. In virtually every battle in which blacks were involved, Southerners murdered African-American prisoners without cause or excuse. Every single one. From now on, whenever anyone wants to put a Confederate flag in a public place, this book should be sent out. It reveals the Confederate cause as the truly nightmarish, evil, disgusting force it was. The author doesn't seem to mean to do it; he doesn't even discuss the repeated, ceaseless massacres in his introduction. But the reality is there: no honor. Just slimeballs shooting unarmed men, or burning down buildings full of wounded.
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful By lordhoot on October 31, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This proves to be quite an interesting book about the black troops during the Civil War. Its definitely is a military history of those troops instead of social or political history. The author appears to know his stuff and I supposed for many neo-Confederates out there, this book will sound very politically incorrect since it shows the brave soldiers of the south murdering defenseless black POWs after some battles. Of course, I am sure the black troops did some paid back as well which in the face of war, was only proper. This seem to distract many readers but overall, this book is about the black troops of the war and how they fought, performed and conducted themselves. All was not glory for them but in hindsight, they did quite well considering the situation they were in.
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