Yesterday I caught a panel discussion on race and the challenges of teaching Civil War history from a recent conference at Wake Forest, which aired on CSPAN. I didn’t find the panel discussion to be particularly interesting, but what struck me was a comment from Hari Jones, who argued that nothing that has been written about black Civil War soldiers since the publication of Benjamin Quarles’s The Negro in the Civil War (1953) is worth reading.
I don’t mind admitting that I find that to be an absurd statement. I’ve read large sections of the book and it is worth looking at, but Quarles does not address the kinds of questions that have been explored by historians in recent years nor did he have access to as broad a range of archival materials. With that in mind I give you just a few of the books that have enriched my understanding of the subject.
Stephen V. Ash, Firebrand of Liberty: The Story of Two Black Regiments That Changed the Course of the Civil War.
Joseph T. Glatthaar, Forged in Battle: The Civil War Alliance of Black Soldiers and White Officers.
Richard M. Reid, Freedom for Themselves: North Carolina’s Black Soldiers in the Civil War Era.
Donald R. Shaffer, After the Glory: The Struggles of Black Civil War Veterans.
John David Smith ed., Black Soldiers in Blue: African American Troops in the Civil War Era.
Keith P. Wilson, Campfires of Freedom: The Camp Life of Black Soldiers During the Civil War.
That’s just off the top of my head. What would you add to the list.