Tag Archives: USCTs

“Let Them Go To the Devil”: Desertion Among USCTs

Continuing with the theme of desertion [and here] from the past week here is a fascinating passage from Heny McNeal Turner, who served as an army chaplain for the United States Colored Troops. The following excerpt was written at Harrison’s Landing, Virginia on September  18, 1864 and appeared in The Christian Recorder a week later. Continue reading

Speaking in the Land of Lincoln

Louis Martin

Louis Martin (National Archives)

It’s not until September 26, but I am super stoked about receiving an invitation to speak at the 2014 Conference on Illinois History in Springfield. I’ve never been to Lincoln’s home town.

Even better, I was asked to speak about Private Louis Martin, who as you can see was seriously injured at the battle of the Crater. This image has been with me from the beginning of my research on the Crater and it is featured prominently in my book. Unfortunately, I did not spend any time exploring his story, in part, because so little of it is known. Recently, a marker was placed in a cemetery in Springfield, where he is buried.

Not surprisingly, I am going to approach the subject from the perspective of memory. I want to explore in some detail how this image shapes how we think about the black experience in the Civil War and Martin’s story specifically. I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to this talk.

Hope to see some of you there. More details forthcoming.

Click here for future speaking dates.

William Forstchen and Newt Gingrich Massacre the Crater… Again

Today’s Washington Post features an essay on the Crater by Forstchen and Gingrich, which focuses on the men of the Fourth Division. You may remember that two co-authored a work of historical fiction on the battle back in 2011. Shortly after its publication I was invited by the Atlantic to review the book. Needless to say, the book has numerous problems even as a work of fiction, not the least of which is its failure to deal honestly with the well documented accounts of the massacre of large numbers of black Union soldiers. The authors also imagine a conversation between Robert E. Lee and William and Mahone in which the former orders that no captured black soldiers be harmed. There is no evidence of such a meeting taking place and even a fictional account has numerous problems. Continue reading