Category Archives: Slavery

Slavery in the North

Brutus and Natalie, the slaves/servants of widow Leila Ellis, are fictitious. But they represent what some moderns, in a simplistic good/evil dichotomy of the complicated Civil War, consider a unique Southern evil. They probably never heard of the Northern-financed slave … Continue reading

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Leadbetter at Mobile: Some slaves available

Confederate engineer Gen. Danville Leadbetter had no luck at all finding slaveholders willing to loan him their slave laborers to finish Fort Sanders, and so it remained only roughed-out when the Union took Knoxville. The planters of Alabama were just … Continue reading

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The Contrabands

Captain Orlando Poe insists, to Parthenia Leila Ellis’s irritation, upon calling the slave/servants he conscripts for work on Fort Sanders and other parts of the Union’s defensive perimeter “contrabands.” It had been common usage in the Union army from the … Continue reading

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Slavery in Tennessee

The novel’s Leila Ellis’s inheritance of the house slaves Natalie and Brutus from her wealthy late husband Clayton is in keeping with the facts of Tennessee slavery, according to Bobby Lovett, a historian of slavery at Tennessee State University: “In … Continue reading

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Those black troops guarding Castle Fox

The thousands of free black men who served in the United States Colored Troops, as they were called, did not escape discrimination just because they were risking their lives serving the Union cause. Their only involvement in the Knoxville siege … Continue reading

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Ambulances

Easily the most popular conveyance of the war, among officers and privates alike, because of its suspension system, was the two-mule ambulance. Captain Orlando Poe used one to deliver his volunteer and conscripted “contraband” servant/slaves back to their owners— including … Continue reading

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French seams

Some slaves/servants were highly-skilled domestic craftsmen. The widow Ellis’s housekeeper/slave Natalie, for instance, was skilled at sewing French seams in silk, while her mistress was terrified of sewing silk at all. The French seam remains in use because it is … Continue reading

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