This chapter follows Eliza Bogan’s journey, and those of many thousands more, as they moved through the Mississippi River valley during the tumultuous years of 1863 and 1864. It begins with Bogan’s flight to the refugee camp in Helena, Arkansas, where her third husband, Silas Small, had gone to enlist in a regiment of the United States Colored Troops. But the upheaval of combat violence, especially during the 1863 Vicksburg Campaign, pushed Bogan and thousands of other refugees out of Helena and into other parts of the Mississippi River valley. The chapter then describes Bogan’s decision to join her husband’s regiment as a laundress and argues that positions like these opened up room for women in the Union army’s combat apparatus. This, along with the Union’s decision to resettle women and children on leased plantations in the region, as workers but also as occupiers of those plantations, reveals how deeply embedded all formerly enslaved people were in formal combat -- and in the Union army’s determined effort to defeat their former owners.
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