Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-x

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Introduction: Looking for Chamberlain

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pp. 1-7

My interest in the American Civil War dates back to a Sunday afternoon in the fall of 1993. On that day, I saw the movie Gettysburg and was hooked. Everything about the movie captivated me, from Brig. Gen. John Buford’s gallant stand on the first day of the battle to Maj. Gen. George Pickett’s famous charge on the last day. But like so many other fans of the movie, I was particularly fascinated with the character of Col. Joshua L. Chamberlain. For me, Chamberlain, who was portrayed by Jeff Daniels, embodied the heroism...

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1 The Union Army’s Struggle over the Limits of Confiscation in the West

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pp. 8-35

When the Civil War began, Union armies did not set out to liberate slaves, and President Abraham Lincoln had made it clear that he did not intend to interfere with the South’s slave property. But almost the instant Union armies went into the field, they were confronted with slaves seeking refuge in their lines. This was particularly true in the war’s western theater, where armies very quickly made significant advances into Confederate territory. From the...

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2 An Emancipationist Turn of Policy

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pp. 36-59

During the second half of 1862 most Union officers in the West adopted more emancipationist policies. They routinely confiscated the slaves of rebels and employed many of them as laborers, teamsters, servants, cooks, etc. This became the predominant policy across the several armies operating in the West. Official policy not only authorized confiscation but also made the practice more uniform. This shift was partly the result of new legislation in Washington. In July,...

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3 Union Officers and the Intense Debate Over Emancipation and Black Troops

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pp. 60-82

As Washington officials moved toward an emancipationist policy during the second half of 1862 and the beginning of 1863, the attitudes of many Union officers in the West lagged behind. The Second Confiscation Act along with the Preliminary and final Emancipation Proclamations produced deep divisions in the army. Significant numbers of officers opposed these measures out of political, practical, and racial concerns. Other officers just as fervently...

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4 Officers, Servants, and Race

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pp. 83-105

While many western Union officers came to support emancipation and even the enlistment of black troops, their racial attitudes changed very little. Interactions with black people on the ground both reflected and reinforced these attitudes. Officers found black people exotic, curious, childlike, ignorant, animalistic, dirty, funny, pitiful, and ultimately, inferior. Some officers even abused former slaves. Yet, despite these hardened prejudices, officers could sometimes see individual black men and women as people with positive qualities. This...

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5 A Practical Army of Liberation: How the Union Army Carried Out Emancipation in the West

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pp. 106-132

After the final Emancipation Proclamation went into effect in January 1863, western armies generally liberated slaves quite vigorously. In fact, they became the key instrument for bringing freedom to Southern slaves. As Union forces penetrated deeper into Confederate territory on expeditions and raids, officers routinely brought in slaves who took refuge in Union lines. But always driving this emancipation policy first and foremost were practical military considerations. Many officers supported emancipation because it would help...

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6 William T. Sherman and His Officers: The Reluctant Emancipators

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pp. 133-152

In April 1864, Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman wrote his brother, Senator John Sherman, a revealing letter on emancipation. “Too much stress has been laid on the Negro,” the general complained. “It is used as a touch Stone, a test. It should not be, but treated as any other minor question. The Negro question will solve itself. The Government of the United States is the Issue. Shall it stand or fall? If it stands it can in Some way control Negros as well as whites, but if it fall another combination will grow up that will govern all discordant...

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Conclusion: How Transformative Was the Civil War?

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pp. 153-158

By the time Maj. Gen William T. Sherman finished his devastating campaign in the Carolinas in the spring of 1865, slavery was in its death throes everywhere in the western theater and, for that matter, in the Confederacy. A few months before, Sherman had bluntly told his wife, “Slavery is dead and the Negro free.”1 Union armies had marched through almost every area of the West and destroyed slavery in the process. The institution that had been...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 159-162

I would like to thank the staff at the University of North Carolina Press for all their patience and assistance. I could not have asked for a more encouraging editor than Mark Simpson-Vos. He patiently offered great advice throughout the whole revision process and helped guide this project to publication. I would also like to especially thank Caroline Janney. She read numerous drafts of this book and offered great suggestions each time, which have...

Notes on Methodology

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pp. 163-166

Notes

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pp. 167-196

Bibliography

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pp. 197-216

Index

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pp. 217-225