Southern white and black anti-Confederates both contributed to the Union's eventual triple encirclement of Robert E. Lee. But the two contributions emerged from different southern regions, at different times, with a different initial reception, and with different results. Southern white anti-Confederates, mostly residing in the white belt South, especially helped conquer the Confederate heartland during the first two years of the war, with northern whites' thanks. In contrast, southern black anti-Confederates, mostly residing in the black belt South, especially helped retain the Confederate heartland during the last two years of the war, after overcoming whites' rejection of black troops. By preserving the Mississippi Valley as Union terrain, the Federals' disproportionately black army of occupation freed the disproportionately white army of conquest to move on, toward cornering Lee.
Anti-Confederate blacks' belated role demanded collaboration between Abraham Lincoln and runaway slaves. The ultimate Great Emancipator long shunned such a partnership. More than is now realized, the 1861–;62 Lincoln