Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Thomas Watson Brown Award: $50,000. And the winner is . . .

Embattled Freedom: Journeys through the Civil War's Slave Refugee CampsThe Society of Civil War Historians and the Watson-Brown Foundation are proud to announce that Amy Murret Taylor is the recipient of the Tom Watson Brown Book Award. Dr. Taylor, Associate Professor at the University of Kentucky, earned the award for Embattled Freedom: Journeys Through the Civil War’s Slave Refugee Camps which was published in 2018 by the University of North Carolina Press. 

The $50,000 award is funded by the Watson-Brown Foundation in honor of the broadcaster, philanthropist, and Civil War enthusiast Tom Watson Brown. In making its selection, the prize committee praised Taylor for her “original, nuanced view of slave refugee camps and the relationship of the US Army to the process of emancipation.” Offering a “detailed spatial analysis of the camps” along with compelling stories “about the fate of so-called contraband slaves”, Embattled Freedom, the prize committee explains, “is one of the very best books written in the field of Civil War studies in the last decade and perhaps longer than that.” 

From The PublisherThe Civil War was just days old when the first enslaved men, women, and children began fleeing their plantations to seek refuge inside the lines of the Union army as it moved deep into the heart of the Confederacy. In the years that followed, hundreds of thousands more followed in a mass exodus from slavery that would destroy the system once and for all. Drawing on an extraordinary survey of slave refugee camps throughout the country, Embattled Freedom reveals as never before the everyday experiences of these refugees from slavery as they made their way through the vast landscape of army-supervised camps that emerged during the war. Amy Murrell Taylor vividly reconstructs the human world of wartime emancipation, taking readers inside military-issued tents and makeshift towns, through commissary warehouses and active combat, and into the realities of individuals and families struggling to survive physically as well as spiritually. Narrating their journeys in and out of the confines of the camps, Taylor shows in often gripping detail how the most basic necessities of life were elemental to a former slave's quest for freedom and full citizenship.

The stories of individuals--storekeepers, a laundress, and a minister among them--anchor this ambitious and wide-ranging history and demonstrate with new clarity how contingent the slaves' pursuit of freedom was on the rhythms and culture of military life. Taylor brings new insight into the enormous risks taken by formerly enslaved people to find freedom in the midst of the nation’s most destructive war.                                      

Table of Contents:
Biographic Example:Edward and Emma Whitehurst in Slavery


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