Book Review: The Black Civil War Soldier: A Visual History of Conflict and Citizenship


by Deborah Willis

New York: NYU Press, 2021. Pp. x, 242. Illus., notes, index. $35.00. ISBN: 1479809004

The African American Civil War Soldier in the Civil War

This is more than a “visual history”, for in addition to the numerous period images, Prof. Willis (NYU), makes effective use of selections from the letters, diaries, memoirs, and other writings of men and women from the period, and adds a well-written narrative text, to produce an excellent look at the Civil War and its aftermath, concentrating on the experience and role of African Americans in military and naval service.

Willis covers the war from its beginning through Reconstruction, integrating a narrative text with extracts and images very effectively. At times the images and their captions or an extract from letters or other documents, will help the reader better understand the narrative, while at other times the narrative or the extracts will help explain the images.

In telling this story, Willis uses the experience of many persons, with brief profiles of soldiers, sailors, and private citizens who worked to support the war effort and the role of Black troops in it.

The Black Civil War Soldier will prove useful reading for any serious scholar of the Civil War and is an excellent introduction to the role of African Americans in the war for the layman.




Note: The Black Civil War Soldier, a volume in the NYU Series in Social and Cultural Analysis, is also available in e-editions.


StrategyPage reviews are published in cooperation with The New York Military Affairs Symposium

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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