In the Peninsula Campaign of spring 1862, Union general George B.
McClellan failed in his plan to capture the Confederate capital and
bring a quick end to the conflict. But the campaign saw something
new in the war--the participation of African Americans in ways that
were critical to the Union offensive. Ultimately, that
participation influenced Lincoln's decision to issue the
Emancipation Proclamation at the end of that year. Glenn David
Brasher's unique narrative history delves into African American
involvement in this pivotal military event, demonstrating that
blacks contributed essential manpower and provided intelligence
that shaped the campaign's military tactics and strategy and that
their activities helped to convince many Northerners that
emancipation was a military necessity.
Drawing on the voices of Northern soldiers, civilians, politicians,
and abolitionists as well as Southern soldiers, slaveholders, and
the enslaved, Brasher focuses on the slaves themselves, whose
actions showed that they understood from the outset that the war
was about their freedom. As Brasher convincingly shows, the
Peninsula Campaign was more important in affecting the decision for
emancipation than the Battle of Antietam.