Slavery, Race, and the Confederate Army during the Civil War
Publication Year: 2014
The Confederate army went to war to defend a nation of slaveholding states, and although men rushed to recruiting stations for many reasons, they understood that the fundamental political issue at stake in the conflict was the future of slavery. Most Confederate soldiers were not slaveholders themselves, but they were products of the largest and most prosperous slaveholding civilization the world had ever seen, and they sought to maintain clear divisions between black and white, master and servant, free and slave.
In Marching Masters Colin Woodward explores not only the importance of slavery in the minds of Confederate soldiers but also its effects on military policy and decision making. Beyond showing how essential the defense of slavery was in motivating Confederate troops to fight, Woodward examines the Rebels’ persistent belief in the need to defend slavery and deploy it militarily as the war raged on. Slavery proved essential to the Confederate war machine, and Rebels strove to protect it just as they did Southern cities, towns, and railroads. Slaves served by the tens of thousands in the Southern armies—never as soldiers, but as menial laborers who cooked meals, washed horses, and dug ditches. By following Rebel troops' continued adherence to notions of white supremacy into the Reconstruction and Jim Crow eras, the book carries the story beyond the Confederacy’s surrender.
Drawing upon hundreds of soldiers’ letters, diaries, and memoirs, Marching Masters combines the latest social and military history in its compelling examination of the last bloody years of slavery in the United States.
Published by: University of Virginia Press
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The writer must write alone but he nevertheless accumulates many debts. This book began in late 2000 as a dissertation at Louisiana State University. At LSU, I want to thank my advisor, Charles Royster, who took me on as a graduate student and nearly saw my dissertation to its conclusion...
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James Paul Verdery of the Forty-Eighth Georgia Infantry got into position. It was about eight o’clock in the morning on 30 July 1864. He and the rest of the men in Mahone’s division could barely load their rifles before the Union forces stormed over their breastworks. The Federals...
1: “The Question of Slavery”
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By April 1862, most of the men who served in the Confederate army had already enlisted. Others joined later, and still more found themselves drafted, but examining men’s words in the first year of the war allows us to understand why they fought for the South. When it came to the “question of slavery,” Rebel soldiers expressed proslavery views that included...
2: Planters and Yeomen,Officers and Privates
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Proslavery thinking did not always assure harmony among white Southerners. As the Civil War ground on and took increasingly more lives, the struggle to create a white man’s government led many Confederates to question whether protecting slavery was helping or hurting their cause...
3: The Greatest of Masters
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The Confederate draft forced Southern troops to remain in the army against their will. Slaves were by definition compelled to serve, but in 1863, they too became conscripts of a sort. In March 1863, the Confederacy passed an impressment law giving commanders power to use slaves for military work. Impressment proved a controversial aspect of the Confederacy’s...
4: “Send Me the Negro Boy”
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The conscription of able-bodied white troops and the impressment of slaves into the Rebel armies were two instances of the Confederacy exerting unprecedented power in the South. Throughout the war, Confederates hoped to strike a balance between the forces of states’ rights and centralization...
5: “We Crushed Their Freedom”
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In July 1863, the Federal army raided Adams Run, South Carolina, near Charleston. With the arrival of troops came the freeing of slaves. “My Plantation will very soon become a wilderness,” complained Henry H. Manigault, a civilian who owned dozens of black workers. All but two...
6: On Battlefields and in Prisons
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With the Emancipation Proclamation came the North’s use of black Union troops to help crush the Confederacy. By the spring of 1863, the United States had organized some black regiments, and it had thousands of volunteers ready to fill others. Over the course of the war, 180,000 African...
7: Free to Fight
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The presence of 200,000 African Americans in the United States army and navy, combined with the vast number of slaves who escaped their masters, underscored black people’s desire to help the Union crush the Confederacy. It also showed how the United States was adept at forging...
8: Relics of the Antebellum Era
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After fighting four years in a conflict that took at least 620,000 lives, Confederate soldiers returned home to communities impoverished and scarred by war. Southern men had seen more than 260,000 comrades die, and the Federal army had done untold damage to homes and farms...
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This work has shown the proslavery nature of the Confederate army and the Rebel military’s attempts to protect the peculiar institution from various threats. The war might have ended at the Battle of Bull Run, and slavery might have lasted indefinitely. But it did not, and the bloodier the...
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Page Count: 296
Publication Year: 2014