Academic journal article Military Review

Edward A. Wild and the African Brigade in the Civil War

Academic journal article Military Review

Edward A. Wild and the African Brigade in the Civil War

Article excerpt

EDWARD A. WILD AND THE AFRICAN BRIGADE IN THE CIVIL WAR, Frances H. Casstevens, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2003,325 pages, $34.95.

In Edward A. Wild and the African Brigade in the Civil War, Frances H. Casstevens, who is passionately committed to the ideals of the Union and black equality, tells the story of how a man's depth of commitment leads to his downfall and how his strong convictions lead him to questionable tactics to achieve his ends.

Ned Wild, a Massachusetts abolitionist and Harvard man, joined a Massachusetts infantry unit early in the Civil War. He was wounded twice in 1862-his right hand at Seven Pines and the loss of his left arm at Boonsboro. While recuperating, Wild became involved in recruiting black troops for the Union Army. He was selected to command a brigade of Union forces at Fort Powhatan, the largest fight in the war in which the Union troops were composed entirely of U.S. Colored Troops.

Problems arose when Wild used tactics that many, including his superiors, thought were excessive. He executed a prisoner in North Carolina and offended Victorian sensibilities by taking noncombatant women as hostages. …

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