In Voices of the Civil War, Episode 9, Port Royal Experiment, we will explore the bounds of citizenship for the newly released slaves on the Sea Islands of South Carolina during the Port Royal Experiment. If slaves were treated like freedmen, were they not citizens? And if the privileges of citizenship were extended to refugee slaves, was the Civil War indeed a conflict about slavery?
Image Credit: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, [LC-DIG-cwpb-00747]
In Voices of the Civil War, Episode 10, Slave Rebellion and Conspiracy, we look at the continued threat of slave rebellions throughout the South. With thousands of slaves deserting plantations to claim their freedom, slaveholders could no longer convince themselves of the benevolence of slavery. Many slaveholders became nervous that the presence of the Union blockade along the Gulf Coast would inspire a slave rebellion reminiscent of Nat Turner, or worse the Haitian Revolution. As battles spread from Missouri to Virginia, white paranoia of slave resistance rises in the lower Mississippi River Valley.
Image Credit: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, [LC-USZ62-38902]
In Voices of the Civil War, Episode 11, we look at the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. On September 22, 1862 President Abraham Lincoln issued the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation after the Union’s win at the Battle of Antietam. By December 1862, northern morale was declining and many doubted that Lincoln would issue the Emancipation Proclamation as promised on January 1, 1863.
Image Credit: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, [LC-USZC4-10901]
In Voices of the Civil War, Episode 12, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, after issuing a draft back in September 1862. The Emancipation Proclamation laid the foundation for what would become the 13th Amendment, issued two years later on January 31, 1865. Consequently, the proclamation marked a point of no return for negotiation, sees fire, or compromise. At nearly two years into the war, Lincoln finally focused on the heart of the issue and confronted the Confederacy where it mattered. The Confederacy held fast and continued fighting.
Image Credit: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, [LC-DIG-pga-04067]
Just one month after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, the 54th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry unit was formed on February 9th, 1863. This brave regiment fought in many battles under the threat of re-enslavement, no pay, and immense scrutiny. The regiments’ most famous battle at Fort Wagner was later memorialized in the 1989 film, Glory.
Image Credit: Massachusetts Historical Society
Voices of the Civil War Episode 14, Detroit Draft Riot, highlights a major riot within Detroit, Michigan, as one of many riots across the country, in response to the Enrollment Act of Conscription. Similar to the riot in New York, the Detroit riot was in response to race and class tension surrounding the issues of slavery, draft exemption, and employment. On March 6, 1863 white Detroiters used the trial of William Faulkner as a catalyst to destroy property within black neighborhoods.
Image Credit: Detroit Public Library
Episode 15 focuses on the life and career of Alexander Thomas Augusta, the first of only eight black physicians commissioned into the Union Army. Major Augusta served in the 7th U.S. Colored Troops and later worked as the surgeon-in-chief at the Freedmen’s Hospital in Washington, D.C.
Image Credit: Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, HUA
On May 22, 1863, the United States War Department established the Bureau of Colored Troops to organize and handle the enlistment of black troops into the Union Army. Colored infantries were formed all across the country. On May 23, 1864, the First Michigan Colored Volunteer Infantry was re-designated the 102nd Regiment United States Colored Troops. The 102nd fought throughout South Carolina, eastern Georgia, and Florida during the Civil War.
Image Credit: State Archives of Michigan
In Episode 17, Combahee River Raid, we look at the events of June 2, 1863, when Union Colonel James Montgomery led the 2nd South Carolina Colored Infantry Regiment and the 3rd Rhode Island Heavy Artillery up the Combahee River, to raid Confederate outposts and rice plantations. Harriet Tubman worked with Colonel Montgomery to plan the raid and scout the Combahee River for mines. The aftermath of this successful raid greatly reduced Confederate supplies, established a Union blockade on the river and freed nearly 700 enslaved men and women.
Image Credit: Harper's Weekly
The New York City Draft Riot, similar to the Detroit Draft Riot, was caused by the exemption clause of the Enrollment Act of Conscription and racial tensions between African Americans and white citizens. On July 13, 1863, rioters gathered outside of the Provost Marshal office, attacking the officers, setting fire to the building, and eventually burning down the entire block. African Americans throughout the city were beaten, tortured, and even killed. The riot ended on July 16, 1863 after 105 people died and at least 11 black men were lynched.
Image Credit: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Divisions, [LC-USZ62-47037]