Confederate Emancipation: Southern Plans to Free and Arm Slaves during the Civil War

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Oxford University Press, Nov 1, 2005 - History - 272 pages
3 Reviews
In early 1864, as the Confederate Army of Tennessee licked its wounds after being routed at the Battle of Chattanooga, Major-General Patrick Cleburne (the "Stonewall of the West") proposed that "the most courageous of our slaves" be trained as soldiers and that "every slave in the South who shall remain true to the Confederacy in this war" be freed. In Confederate Emancipation, Bruce Levine looks closely at such Confederate plans to arm and free slaves. He shows that within a year of Cleburne's proposal, which was initially rejected out of hand, Jefferson Davis, Judah P. Benjamin, and Robert E. Lee had all reached the same conclusions. At that point, the idea was debated widely in newspapers and drawing rooms across the South, as more and more slaves fled to Union lines and fought in the ranks of the Union army. Eventually, the soldiers of Lee's army voted on the proposal, and the Confederate government actually enacted a version of it in March. The Army issued the necessary orders just two weeks before Appomattox, too late to affect the course of the war. Throughout the book, Levine captures the voices of blacks and whites, wealthy planters and poor farmers, soldiers and officers, and newspaper editors and politicians from all across the South. In the process, he sheds light on such hot-button topics as what the Confederacy was fighting for, whether black southerners were willing to fight in large numbers in defense of the South, and what this episode foretold about life and politics in the post-war South. Confederate Emancipation offers an engaging and illuminating account of a fascinating and politically charged idea, setting it firmly and vividly in the context of the Civil War and the part played in it by the issue of slavery and the actions of the slaves themselves.
 

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User Review  - Shrike58 - LibraryThing

Using the halting efforts of the Confederate government to organized black military units at the stroke of midnight as a prism, Levine considers what this whole episode says about the weakness of ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - dswaddell - LibraryThing

Detailed and well documented discussion on the plans the Confederacy made to free slaves during the Civil War including an interesting discussion on why it failed.A good well argued viewpoint although it's somewhat one sided in that it ignores details that go against the authors basic ideas. Read full review

Contents

The Puzzle of Confederate Emancipation
1
The Heresy and Its Origins 18611864
16
The Critics Indictment
40
Slaves and the Confederate War Effort
60
The LongTerm Plan
89
Enacting and Implementing New Policy 18641865
110
Could It Have Worked?
129
Confederate Emancipation in War and Peace
148
Acknowledgments
165
Notes
169
Sources Cited
223
Index
243
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About the author (2005)

Bruce Levine is the James G. Randall Professor of History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is the author of Half Slave and Half Free: The Roots of Civil War and The Spirit of 1848: German Immigrants, Labor Conflict, and the Coming of Civil War, and is co-author of Who Built America? Working People and the Nation's Economy, Politics, Culture, and Society.

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