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Slavery and Freedom in the Shenandoah Valley

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Tuesday, March 14, 2023 - 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET
Code: 1CV012
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African American Union soldier with family, 1863 (Library of Congress)

During the Civil War, Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley was the site of fierce conflicts, both on and off the battlefield. The region’s strategic location meant that enslaved and free African Americans navigated a borderland that changed hands frequently—where it was possible to be in Union territory one day, Confederate territory the next, and no-man’s land another.

Author Jonathan Noyalas continues the story and reveals the challenges African Americans faced from former Confederates during the Civil War Era. Drawing on untapped primary resources, including records from the Freedmen’s Bureau and contemporary newspapers, he examines how the region’s enslaved population resisted slavery and supported the Union war effort by serving as scouts, spies, and laborers, or by fleeing to enlist in regiments of the United States Colored Troops. He traces their actions, which were shaped uniquely by the volatility of the struggle in this region, to ensure that the war’s emancipationist legacy would survive.

Noyalas is an historian and director of the McCormick Civil War Institute at Shenandoah University. His book Slavery and Freedom in the Shenandoah Valley During the Civil War Era (University Press of Florida) is available for purchase.

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