Thursday, February 23, 2012

African American Camp Servants, Part I

If you have spent any significant amount of time perusing Civil War photographs - especially Union soldier camp photographs - you have probably noticed the ubiquity of African American camp servants. These individuals, the majority of which were runaway slaves that flocked to the Union army as it marched into the Confederate states, are proof positive that a great number of these people were willing to take the risk of fleeing. They were men, women, boys, and girls all looking for freedom and the opportunity to finally receive payment for their labor. And, to think, so many slaveholders thought the wouldn't work without force. Among other myriad duties they shined shoes, groomed horses, cleaned officers' tents, cooked meals, and drove wagons and cattle herds.

Here are only a few:

Don't see him? Look in the tree.

Photographs courtesy Library of Congress


  1. This is very interesting, Tim. Has there been much scholarship about African American camp servants amongst academics?

  2. Unfortunately, no, not much has been written. I think some things are on the horizon though, but mainly in relation to Confederate camp slaves.