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Embattled FreedomJourneys through the Civil War's Slave Refugee Camps$
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Amy Murrell Taylor

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781469643625

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469643625.001.0001

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Keeping Faith

Keeping Faith

(p.179) 7 Keeping Faith
Embattled Freedom

Amy Murrell Taylor

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter follows Burdett, and many other enslaved people from Kentucky, into Camp Nelson, a Union supply depot that became a recruiting post for the United States Colored Troops. It emphasizes the constraints faced by those entering the camp in 1863 and 1864, especially due to its location in the Union slaveholding state of Kentucky, which was exempt from the Emancipation Proclamation. Union officials proved more determined to limit the progress of emancipation in this state than in any other exempted region, leading to impressments of men and expulsions of women and children. But Gabriel Burdett still found a free space in which to begin preaching, and over time, with the assistance of missionaries like John Fee, he worked to establish a new school and an independent church at Camp Nelson. By 1865 the camp had become a place to seize and experience the religious freedom that enslaved people like Burdett had long imagined.

Keywords:   Camp Nelson, Kentucky, United States Colored Troops, Emancipation Proclamation, impressments, expulsions, missionaries, school, church, religious freedom

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