Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

For Their Own Cause: The 27th United States Colored Troops

Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

For Their Own Cause: The 27th United States Colored Troops

Article excerpt

For Their Own Cause: The 27th United States Colored Troops. By Kelly D. Mezurek. Civil War in the North. (Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 2016. Pp. x, 354. $37.95, ISBN 978-1-60635-289-2.)

In Toward a Social History of the American Civil War: Exploratory Essays (New York, 1990), Maris A. Vinovskis calls on scholars to revolutionize the field of history by investigating the stories of ordinary soldiers, citizens, and communities during the Civil War. Inspired by both Vinovskis and Ronald T. Takaki's work on marginalized populations in the United States, Kelly D. Mezurek's first book examines the story of the Twenty-seventh United States Colored Infantry, an Ohio-based African American Civil War regiment. Through a meticulous analysis of compiled military service records, pension files, manuscript collections, family genealogies, and other primary sources, Mezurek has produced a study that will help us "better understand the influence of the Civil War on the everyday life of individuals and their communities" (p. 6).

For Their Own Cause: The 27th United States Colored Troops follows the men of the Twenty-seventh United States Colored Infantry primarily from the outbreak of hostilities in 1861 to the postwar period. Employing a chronological approach, Mezurek closely examines these soldiers' lives, giving special attention to their various motivations, struggles, achievements, fears, and aspirations. She rightfully asserts that while a significant number of black men in Ohio saw the conflict as an opportunity to help destroy slavery and assert their patriotism, others enlisted for different reasons such as financial concerns. Her discussion of how black men viewed the war in different ways is one of the book's great strengths. …

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