The Negro in the American Rebellion: His Heroism and His Fidelity

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Ohio University Press, 2003 - History - 223 pages

In 1863, as the Civil War raged, the escaped slave, abolitionist, and novelist William Wells Brown identified two groups most harmful to his race. "The first and most relentless," he explained, "are those who have done them the greatest injury, by being instrumental in their enslavement and consequent degradation. They delight to descant upon the 'natural inferiority' of the blacks, and claim that we were destined only for a servile condition, entitled neither to liberty nor the legitimate pursuit of happiness."

"The second class," Brown concluded, "are those who are ignorant of the characteristics of the race, and are the mere echoes of the first." Four years later, Brown wrote the first military history of African Americans, The Negro in the American Rebellion. This text assailed those whose hatred and ignorance inclined them to keep blacks oppressed after Appomattox.

This critical edition of The Negro in the American Rebellion, one of Brown's least-analyzed texts, is the first to appear in more than three decades. In his introduction, historian John David Smith identifies the text's Anglo-American abolitionist roots, sets it in the context of Brown's other writings, appraises it as military history, analyzes its interpretation of black masculinity and honor, and focuses closely on Brown's assessment of contemporary racial tensions.

Largely ignored by scholars, The Negro in the American Rebellion, Smith argues, is a powerful transitional text, one that confronted squarely the neo-slavery of the Reconstruction era.

"Whites," Brown wrote, "appear determined to reduce the blacks to a state of serfdom if they cannot have them as slaves." His important text was a call to arms in the ongoing race struggle. Smith's analysis, framed within recent scholarship on slavery, emancipation, and African American participation in the U.S. army, is long overdue.

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Contents

I BLACKS IN THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR AND IN 1812
1
II THE SOUTHCAROLINA FRIGHT
7
III THE NAT TURNER INSURRECTION
10
IV SLAVE REVOLT AT SEA
14
V GROWTH OF THE SLAVEPOWER
21
VI THE JOHN BROWN RAID
25
VII THE FIRST GUN OF THE REBELLION
28
VIII THE UNION AND SLAVERY BOTH TO BE PRESERVED
31
XXV HONORS TO THE NOBLE DEAD
106
XXVI THE NORTHERN WING OF THE REBELLION
110
XXVII ASSAULT ON FORT WAGNER
113
XXVIII THE SLAVEMARTYR
122
XXIX BATTLE OF OLUSTEE FLORIDA
124
XXX BATTLE OF POISON SPRINGS ARKANSAS
129
XXXI THE MASSACRE AT FORT PILLOW
135
XXXII INJUSTICE TO COLORED TROOPS
142

IX INTELLIGENT CONTRABANDS
33
X PROCLAMATIONS OF FREMONT AND HUNTER
38
XI HEROISM OF NEGROES ON THE HIGH SEAS
41
XII GENERAL BUTLER AT NEW ORLEANS
46
XIII THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA FREE
52
XIV THE BLACK BRIGADE OF CINCINNATI
56
XV PROCLAMATION OF FREEDOM
61
XVI THE NEW POLICY
72
XVII ARMING THE BLACKS
75
XVIII BATTLE OF MILLIKENS BEND
79
XIX RAISING BLACK REGIMENTS AT THE NORTH
82
XX FIFTYFOURTH MASSACHUSETTS REGIMENT
85
XXI BLACKS UNDER FIRE IN SOUTH CAROLINA
91
XXII FREEDMEN UNDER FIRE IN MISSISSIPPI
94
XXIII BATTLE OF PORT HUDSON
96
XXIV GENERAL BANKS IN LOUISIANA
101
XXXIII BATTLE OF HONEY HILL SOUTH CAROLINA
146
XXXIV BEFORE PETERSBURG AND RICHMOND
152
XXXV WIT AND HUMOR OF THE WAR
157
XXXVI A THRILLING INCIDENT OF THE WAR
163
XXXVII PROGRESS AND JUSTICE
167
XXXVIII FOURTHOFJULY CELEBRATION AT THE HOME OF JEFF DAVIS
171
XXXIX GALLANTRY LOYALTY AND KINDNESS OF THE NEGRO
178
XL FALL OF THE CONFEDERACY AND DEATH OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN
186
XLI PRESIDENT ANDREW JOHNSON
189
XLII ILL TREATMENT OF COLORED PEOPLE SOUTH
198
XLIII PROTECTION FOR THE COLORED PEOPLE
204
XLIV CASTE
207
XLV SIXTH REGIMENT UNITEDSTATES VOLUNTEERS
214
NOTES
219
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About the author (2003)

William Wells Brown (1814-1884), a former slave and abolitionist leader, wrote the first novel published by an African American. He wrote the first military history of African Americans, The Negro in the American Rebellion. This text assailed those whose hatred and ignorance inclined them to keep blacks oppressed after Appomattox.

A distinguished professor of history at North Carolina State University, John David Smith has enjoyed many scholarly honors and awards. His recent books include Black Judas: William Hannibal Thomas and The American Negro, Black Soldiers in Blue: African American Troops in the Civil War Era, and The Civil War and Reconstruction: A Documentary History (forthcoming).

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