05/29/2013 04:18 PM
BATON ROUGE – At Milliken’s Bend, La., a Union force composed predominantly of former
slaves met their Confederate adversaries in one of the bloodiest engagements of the
war. This small yet important fight received some initial widespread attention but
soon drifted into obscurity.
In “Milliken’s Bend,” now available from LSU Press, Linda Barnickel uncovers the story
of this long-forgotten and highly controversial battle. Controversial charges made
after the battle eventually led to a congressional investigation and contributed to
the suspension of prisoner exchanges between North and South.
Barnickel’s compelling and comprehensive account of the battle illuminates not only
the immense complexity of the events that transpired in northeastern Louisiana during
the Vicksburg Campaign but also the implications of Milliken’s Bend upon the war as
a whole. The battle contributed to Southerners’ increasing fears of slave insurrection
and heightened their anxieties about emancipation. In the North, it helped foster
a commitment to allow free blacks and former slaves to take part in the war to end
slavery. And for African Americans, both free and enslaved, Milliken’s Bend symbolized
their never-ending struggle for freedom.
Barnickel is an archivist and freelance writer with master’s degrees from the University
of Wisconsin–Madison and The Ohio State University. Passionate about discovering the
hidden and fascinating stories of history, she is interested in local history, military
history, oral history and the cultural power of archives.
Posted on Wednesday, May 29, 2013