by Matthew Weisenfluh | | Wednesday, July 15, 2020 - 12:33


The Union capture of Fort Fisher, North Carolina in January of 1865 was a major blow to the reeling Confederacy and set the stage for Lee’s surrender four months later. Black Virginians in Blue were among the USCT soldiers who landed that blow.

by Elizabeth R. Varon | | Monday, July 6, 2020 - 10:12


As Americans remove Confederate statues from the public landscape, and debate the symbolism of monuments such as Washington, D.C.’s Emancipation Statue, with its standing Lincoln and kneeling slave, it is instructive to reflect on the paths not taken.  As modern scholarship on Civil War memory has noted, African Americans faced daunting obstacles in trying to establish their own public memorials in Jim Crow America.  A poignant example is the statue conceived by the National Emancipation Monument Association in 1889.  Its design was a striking inverse of the “kneeling slave” motif and a bol

by Matthew Weisenfluh | | Friday, July 3, 2020 - 00:00


In the late fall of 1864, Confederate General John Bell Hood led his defeated Army of Tennessee from the ruins of Atlanta. The city, a key logistical and supply center, had been leveled by Union forces under Major General William T. Sherman. As Hood retreated to lick his wounds west of the city, Confederate President Jefferson Davis ordered him to harass and weaken the enemy while avoiding a full-scale engagement. Hood was so successful in this endeavor that in a bold stroke, Sherman proposed to abandon his supply line and march across Georgia.

by Elizabeth R. Varon | | Thursday, June 18, 2020 - 18:51


On June 16, 2020, Virginia Governor Ralph S.

by Adam Jacobs | | Tuesday, June 16, 2020 - 13:33


Despite major inroads made by Union armies across the South during the Civil War, the state of Florida existed largely on the periphery and experienced few major battles within its borders. As Florida was a sparsely populated state compared to its neighbors, and contained meager industrial resources, the Union did not prioritize an invasion to its inland portions. Strategically, devoting substantial resources to the state made little sense for the Union high command. As late as February 1864, only one major battle occurred within its borders—the battle of Olustee or Ocean Pond.

by Frank Cirillo | | Wednesday, May 20, 2020 - 09:53


Following the formation of African American regiments across the wartime Union in the spring of 1863, leading black abolitionists, from William Wells Brown to Robert Hamilton to Frederick Douglass, put aside their past, contentious disagreements over the issue of enlistment. The Union, they now all agreed, had finally proven itself deserving of black military service. Now that the nation was willing to accept black volunteers, moreover, activists were anxious not to let the moment go to waste.

by Frank Cirillo | | Monday, January 27, 2020 - 13:06


In the two years following the start of the Civil War in 1861, African American activists and their allies engaged in a sustained, strenuous crusade to persuade the white northern public—and, by extension, the Lincoln Administration—to support black military enlistment. Their untiring efforts, in combination with larger military developments, ultimately shifted the tide of public opinion, helping bring about a national policy of black military service by 1863.

by Frank Cirillo | | Wednesday, December 4, 2019 - 10:25


When the Civil War began in April 1861, it was far from a foregone conclusion that Albemarle County natives like Jesse Cowles and Mathew Gardner would end up serving in the Union military. Over the first two years of the war, African American abolitionists fought an uphill battle against a reluctant Lincoln administration and a prejudiced Northern public to allow black enlistment. Only through their strenuous efforts, alongside the exigencies and political calculations of the larger conflict, did their dream of military service eventually become a reality.

by Frank Cirillo | | Tuesday, November 12, 2019 - 20:33


In December of 1915, the black community of Jefferson County, Arkansas gathered to bury the esteemed black Virginian in blue Mathew Gardner (alias Berry). Gardner had been born a slave in Albemarle County. Forced by the slave trade to move to Arkansas on the eve of the Civil War, Gardner fled bondage during the conflict, enlisting as a member of the United States Colored Troops (USCT).

by Frank Cirillo | | Tuesday, October 8, 2019 - 13:44


In 1915, a prominent African-American newspaper, The Chicago Defender, reported on a memorial gathering of the St. John’s A.M.E. Sunday school in Cleveland, Ohio. The current school superintendent, the article noted, began by invoking an address given fifteen years earlier by his predecessor, Frank Lee. Born into slavery in Albemarle County, Lee had escaped bondage and entered the Union ranks during the Civil War. In the decades after his service, he established himself as one of the leading members of Cleveland’s black elite.

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