3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 15, 2005
This book shows why Melvin Claxton is the finest investigative reporter working today. He does two things in this book. First, he tells a bigger and far more important story than "Glory" when he tells how 14 black soldiers received the Medal of Honor for their extraordinary valor in the Battle of New Market Heights. This obscure battle, during the last days of the Civil War, forever laid to rest the then-popular notion that black soldiers were cowards; that they would cut and run in the heat of combat.
Almost 900 black soldiers died at New Market Heights. And they died charging wave after wave into Confederate gunfire. It would be almost 100 years before President Truman desegregated the U.S. military. But black Americans soldiered on because of their legacy from this battle.
Black troops at New Market Heights won respect and honor, not only for themselves, but for black troops who later would die charging Japanese positions in the Pacific or German strongholds in Europe. They won honor for black troops who fought in the frozen hell of Korea or in the steamy jungles of Vietnam.
This is more than a military book. It is a book about how when America was tearing itself apart, a few valiant black soldiers were putting the country together.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 12, 2006
"`Uncommon Valor' is a good introduction to the black warriors of the war...Claxton and Puls do an excellent job following Fleetwood through battles in North Carolina and Virginia, allowing him to speak through his diary and letters." Linda Wheeler, Washington Post, 2-12-2006
"The book debunks the notion that freedom from slavery was somehow handed to black Americans. Out of one battle at New Market Heights...came 14 medals of honor for black soldiers -- more than black soldiers ever received on any one day, in any war."
Shaun A. Pennington, St. Thomas Source, 2-10-2006
"At last we're getting the real story of how black soldiers helped the Union win the Civil War." William Steif, The State, 2-05-2006
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 7, 2006
Melvin Claxton and Mark Puls have written an uncommonly fascinating book about the uncommon valor of African-American soldiers during the Civil War. In the battle of New Market Heights fourteen Medals of Honor were awarded to the incredibly brave "colored " troops " who fought it. They demonstrated that the notion that black troops would not fight was a racist slander. Claxton and Puls tell a compelling and important tale of a battle even more significant than the more celebrated effort of the 54th Massachusetts before Fort Wagner portrayed in the film " Glory ".They provide new insight into an important topic and will keep you turning the pages until the early hours. This book is a must for not only Civil War buffs, but all those interested in American history - especially those untold chapters of the black contribution to the making of this nation.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 3, 2006
Uncommon Valor provides a unique perspective for the reader that truly brings history alive. The flow of the book allows the reader to accompany Christian Fleetwood through his individual Civil War experience while being supplemented with interesting and relevant historical fact. Uncommon valor prompts the reader to develop a profound appreciation for the courageous contributions of African American Civil War soldiers in the face of extreme prejudice. This book is a goldmine of information for the student of African American and Civil War history.
on February 3, 2014
There was never a more effective '5th Column' effort in military history than the resistance of Black Americans to the Confederate military effort and government. From acting as spies and scouts to the Union army, the communities of self-policing self liberated, Black men, women and children aided the Federal armies as cooks, laborers, seamstresses, and veterinarians for cavalry horses as well as livestock. Their behavior was so at odds with the assertions of the southern press and politicians that many Union officers and men saw firsthand the truth behind the rhetoric, making Abolitionists of many, heretofore uncommitted white soldiers. 'Lincoln's Volunteer Veterans Win the War' details the growing conviction, particularly in the Western armies, that the Institution had to die. 'Confederate Reckoning' places secession in the context of other 19th century Western Hemisphere struggles for independence who had the issue of slavery to resolve.
And then there was the mobilization of over 100,000 men as United States soldiers. This book details the story of a reluctant warrior who was only persuaded gradually that this was his fight. For more information on the actions Fleetwood was engaged in, read Price's, 'The Battle of New Market Heights', and 'Fort Harrison and the Battle of Chaffin's Farm', by Crenshaw. General Terry, who was on site at New Market Heights may have gained conviction as to the fighting qualities of Black troops when the USCT's fought at Fort Fischer in 1865 under his command.
on July 7, 2015
I wish I had the clarity of thought and prose to truly tell you what a well written book this is. I was enmeshed in each page from beginning to the end. In my mind the soldiers thoughts, fears, joys and sufferings were clearly brought to life. The horror of each battle, blood, terror, screams and smoke still linger in the air. The mistakes and courage of leadership were clearly described as well as the disappointments, shameful treatment and ultimate redemption of their men.