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Firebrand of Liberty: The Story of Two Black Regiments That Changed the Course of the Civil War
Firebrand of Liberty The Story of Two Black Regiments That Changed the Course of the Civil War
Author: Stephen V. Ash
A nearly forgotten Civil War episode is restored to history in this masterful account. In March 1863, nine hundred black Union soldiers, led by white officers, invaded Florida and seized the town of Jacksonville. They were among the first African American troops in the Northern army, and their expedition in...  more »
ISBN-13: 9780393065862
ISBN-10: 0393065863
Publication Date: 7/17/2008
Pages: 304
Rating:
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 3

3.8 stars, based on 3 ratings
Publisher: W.W. Norton & Co.
Book Type: Hardcover
Members Wishing: 0
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hardtack avatar reviewed Firebrand of Liberty: The Story of Two Black Regiments That Changed the Course of the Civil War on + 2554 more book reviews
I especially enjoy reading a book about the Civil War in Florida, as there are so few of them.

Here the author follows the organization of two colored regiments at Hilton Head: the 1st and 2nd South Carolina Volunteers (Colored) USA. Most of these men were previously slaves and were eager to fight their former owners and free other slaves. The 1st S.C.V. engaged in significant combat before the 54th Massachusetts made its heroic charge at Battery Wagner.

The 1st and 2nd S.C.Vs, and some reinforcing white units, made an extended raid into Florida, captured Jacksonville and raided other areas. The success and excellent behavior of the 1st S.C.V. was particularly noted in newspapers in both the North and the South, although southern and northern Democratic-leaning newspapers reported unfavorably about the regiments.

The author makes a good argument, with supporting data, that the reported actions of these two regiments, in newspapers and official reports, accelerated the Lincoln administration's decision to enlist black troops in large numbers. The author also does a good job of defining the characters of the major players, colonels and generals, as well as many of the soldiers and civilians associated with the units.

This is not a dry historical tome as the details of the lives of the men and women discussed enliven the text and allow the reader to understand these were living people with both good and bad traits. The book is both an easy and enjoyable read and I recommend it to all with an interest in the Civil War in Florida.

I especially appreciated the detailed discussion of the burning of Jacksonsville in 1863 by white Union forces. I knew of this incident, but was unaware of the details. This will enhance my living history program in Florida.


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