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The Peninsula Campaign and the Necessity of Emancipation: African Americans and the Fight for Freedom (Civil War America) Hardcover – April 2, 2012
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Want proof that history isn't dead? Look no further than Glenn David Brasher's revelatory account of what happened in Virginia 150 years ago this summer. . . . Brasher shows that freedom wasn't something that happened to enslaved Virginians. They seized it the first moment they could. . . . Brasher's seminal book makes it hauntingly real.--Fredericksburg News
Rarely does an author merge so seamlessly in one study a military history--a particular campaign, social history--slavery and history from the bottom up, and political history--the origins of the Emancipation Proclamation.--Civil War Book Review
[Brasher] successfully challenges both myths [about slave participation in the Civil War], and in the process, places Virginia's slave population at the center of one of the most important military campaigns of 1862. . . . [This book] reminds us just how much the Union and Confederacy shared in their valuation of blacks during the war.--The Atlantic
Recommended. All levels/libraries.--Choice
This book does what history does at its best.--Civil War Monitor
A highly praiseworthy work that succeeds in combining traditional military history and social history to the benefit of both.--Register of the Kentucky Historical Society
No student of the Civil War who wants to give an informed answer when next confronted with the 'black Confederate' question can afford to miss this fine book.--Civil War Monitor blog
This intriguing study adds new twists to the well-known tale of the Peninsula Campaign.--The Historian
[A] satisfying read, breaking new ground and laying the groundwork for future studies of Black/White relations on the front lines of the Civil War. This excellent book is well written, extensively researched, and convincingly argued. The University of North Carolina Press has a winner here.--TOCWOC:A Civil War Blog
In a highly stimulating way this seminal work ties social, military, and political developments together into a powerful thesis about the making of the Federal decision for emancipation.--Journal of American History
Quite thought provoking in many areas. . . . I highly recommend this book to anyone with interest in the politics of the abolitionist movement during the Civil War and how they were morphed by the military actions of the eastern armies.--Gettysburg Chronicle
This book, which is destined to become a mainstay in the historiography of emancipation, offers a constant reminder that history does not occur in a vacuum.--Civil War News
It is fortunate for his audience that Brasher is a careful and resourceful researcher and a lucid writer. . . . Although this work focuses on the necessity of emancipation, if other historians are wise they will let it serve as a model of how to unify political, military, and social history for future studies of all the campaigns of the Civil War.--Civil War History
A fascinating, impressively researched, and lucidly written addition to the literature on emancipation.--American Historical Review
[An] assiduously researched and highly illuminating work.--Journal of Southern History
By placing black people at the center of the Peninsula campaign, Brasher shows the value of blending military historiography with emancipation histiography.--H-CivWar
In the debate over emancipation, Brasher persuasively emphasizes the importance of such reports of blacks' participation in the war.--The North Carolina Historical Review
This book effectively opens new doors of scholarly exploration.--Virginia Magazine
In vivid, deeply researched detail, Glenn David Brasher presents a crucial but almost unchronicled chapter of Civil War history. Anyone seeking to understand how the war to save the Union became a struggle for African American freedom should read this important book.--Adam Goodheart, author of 1861: The Civil War Awakening
More About the Author
Author video interview for The Civil War Monitor:
Author interview on Civil War Talk Radio:
Author's postings for the New York Times' Disunion series:
Top Customer Reviews
One of the many areas I had never considered was the role of African-Americans, notably slaves, during the Civil War. Too often, we talk about slavery and its role in setting the climate which led to secession, then touch the topic again with Antietam and the Emancipation Proclamation, generally acknowledge the service of the USCT's, and then end the "Peculiar Institution" in Reconstruction. However, a question remains: What specific military roles did slaves play during the war even before emancipation and the raising of black toops? Glenn David Brasher gives us an answer.
In this new and historiographically divergent monograph, Brasher approaches the roles of African Americans in their "fight for freedom." Focusing on the 1862 Peninsula Campaign, he brings the actions and agency of slaves to the forefront, a positionality much warranted. Slaves fought on both sides (to what degree, when, where, and why is still debatable, , and Brasher handles the question of so-called "Black Confederates" with objectivity) and labored for both sides in digging trenches and constructing forts. However, slaves also put an enormous amount of pressure on soldiers, officers, the northern public, and politicians in Washington.Read more ›
Glenn David Brasher is an instructor of history at the University of Alabama. He is a native of Birmingham, Alabama and has received his Ph.D. from the same university. For eight years he was a seasonal field guide at the Richmond National Battlefield and had his specialty in the Peninsula Campaign. He has also taught at the Virginia Commonwealth University and contributes regularly to the Civil War Monitor and the New York Times “Disunion.” In 2008, he was a finalist for the Southern Historical Associations C. Vann Woodward Award and is the 2013 recipient of the Wiley-Silver Award from the Center for Civil War Research at the University of Mississippi.
Upon the first look at this book, readers may feel as though it is an analysis on the Peninsula Campaign and while there are some things about the campaign in the work, the focus is quite different. The book is separated through the months ranging from April of 1861 all the way to July of 1862. Throughout the text, Brasher proves that there were efforts of the African American population which were overshadowed by the “Hero Making” of Union officers.Read more ›
'Prof. Brasher (Alabama) argues, rather convincingly, that although Antietam is usually associated with the Emancipation Proclamation, it is the Peninsular Campaign to which we should look to more fully understand the process by which Lincoln came to issue his charter of freedom. Using official documents, newspapers, letters, and diaries, Brasher demonstrates how African-Americans – enslaved, fugitive, or free – contributed to military and political events, and how their experiences in the war led led many soldiers, journalists, and military and political leaders to see emancipation as necessary to the furtherance of the Union war effort. As he makes his case, Brasher also rejects the Neo-Confederate “thesis” that masses of blacks willingly serving the South as combatants, albeit a handful did, and also the trendy thesis that the slaves were themselves the sole actors in their emancipation, although of course by their actions they did play a critical role in helping bring that about. Brasher has provided a very readable and important contribution to Civil War studies.'
For the full review, see StrategyPage.Com