01/06/2014 02:53 PM
BATON ROUGE – “Milliken’s Bend: A Civil War Battle in History and Memory,” by Linda
Barnickel, won the A. M. Pate Jr. Award in Civil War History this month. Created to
honor outstanding original research on the Trans-Mississippi sector of the Civil War,
the Pate Award will be presented at the meeting of the Fort Worth Civil War Round
Table in January 2014.
“Milliken’s Bend,” published by LSU Press in April 2013, is a compelling and comprehensive
account of the battle of Milliken’s Bend, La., at which a Union force composed predominantly
of former slaves met their Confederate adversaries in one of the bloodiest engagements
of the war. Though the fight received some widespread attention initially, it soon
drifted into obscurity. Barnickel’s exhaustive research has uncovered the story of
this long-forgotten battle, whose controversial aftermath led to a congressional investigation
and the suspension of prisoner exchanges between North and South.
Barnickel’s book 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 Monday, January 6, 2014