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Freedom for ThemselvesNorth Carolina's Black Soldiers in the Civil War Era$
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Richard M. Reid

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780807831748

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807837276_reid

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Black Veterans in a Gray State

Black Veterans in a Gray State

(p.297) Chapter Eight Black Veterans in a Gray State
Freedom for Themselves

Richard M. Reid

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter focuses on the arrival of the black regiments in Wilmington in February 1865, which triggered an emotional response from all of its inhabitants. For African Americans, the soldiers came as liberators, while for most white citizens, they represented a frightening specter of the changes confronting Southern society. All recognized that the black men in the ranks had themselves been changed. One private, recognized and embraced by his mother, was described in a letter of a fellow soldier from the 4th U.S. Colored Troops in a way that would have resonated with many black enlisted men across the South: “He had left his home a slave, but he returned in the garb of a union soldier, free, a man.” Both mother and son were aware of the soldiers' new aspirations and their expectations of equal treatment that were formed as part of their service experience.

Keywords:   black regiments, Wilmington, African Americans, liberators, white citizens, Southern society

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