African American Faces of the Civil War

African American Faces of the Civil War

An Album

By Ronald S. Coddington; J. Matthew Gallman (Foreword by)

Johns Hopkins University Press, Hardcover, 9781421406251, 338pp.

Publication Date: August 2012


A renowned collector of Civil War photographs and a prodigious researcher, Ronald S. Coddington combines compelling archival images with biographical stories that reveal the human side of the war. This third volume in his series on Civil War soldiers contains previously unpublished photographs of African American Civil War participants--many of whom fought to secure their freedom.

During the Civil War, 200,000 African American men enlisted in the Union army or navy. Some of them were free men and some escaped from slavery; others were released by sympathetic owners to serve the war effort. "African American Faces of the Civil War" tells the story of the Civil War through the images of men of color who served in roles that ranged from servants and laborers to enlisted men and junior officers.

Coddington discovers these portraits-- "cartes de visite," ambrotypes, and tintypes--in museums, archives, and private collections. He has pieced together each individual's life and fate based upon personal documents, military records, and pension files. These stories tell of ordinary men who became fighters, of the prejudice they faced, and of the challenges they endured. "African American Faces of the Civil War" makes an important contribution to a comparatively understudied aspect of the war and provides a fascinating look into lives that helped shape America.

About the Author
Ronald S. Coddington is a visual journalist whose work has appeared in USA Today, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and the San Jose Mercury News.

J. Matthew Gallman is Henry R. Luce Professor of the Civil War Era at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania. His books include "Mastering Wartime: A Social History of Philadelphia During the Civil War".