Historian Offers ‘Lost’ Stories of Black Soldiers in Civil War

(Image: WHTM)

HARRISBURG, PA (WHTM) – When you think about the Civil War and Pennsylvania’s connection, Gettysburg clearly comes to mind. But Harrisburg played an important role as well. Especially when it comes to some of the forgotten soldiers. African Americans made significant contributions. A well-renowned historian will be here this month to tell their “lost story.”

“Pennsylvania is clearly the Keystone State and Harrisburg is clearly the keystone in the Keystone State, so this becomes a central point of communication in reaching out to the rest of the nation for this underground network,” said Hari Jones, curator at the African American Civil War Museum in Washington D.C.

He’s hosting a series of lectures highlighting the inspiring story of the efforts of black men and women to abolish slavery and gain their rights as citizens. The lectures begin with a look at black soldiers who fought during the war, and the difficulties they faced. Jones says he focuses on history told by those who actually took part in it, not scholars.

“When we focus on the voices of the actual history makers we get a very different story than what’s been presented,” said Jones, “Many well-educated people that I speak with, when I tell them “Glory” isn’t accurate, they’re shocked. But if you are familiar with the primary sources, you wouldn’t be shocked. So what we’re going to do is get people over this shock by sharing with them these primary sources, what these soldiers are saying.”

Black soldiers were invaluable on the battle field, helping the union defeat the confederacy. While this series focuses on the role of African-Americans in the fight for freedom, it’s a story everyone should hear.

“The African-American Civil War Museum, I love working there, but it actually gives the impression that this is a cut-off story,” said Jones. “This isn’t a cut-off story, it’s part of a whole story. So it’s proper place to be told is in the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg. Here we will tell this lost story that adds to the whole story that is our American story.”

There are two more lectures in “The Lost Story” series. They will focus on both the successes and failures of the freedom fighters, and their role in abolishing slavery and saving the union. Jones will also talk about Harrisburg’s importance, both during and after the war. You can hear more on all of this Saturday October 24th at 11:00 am and 2:00 pm at the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, and it’s free!

For more information: www.nationalcivilwarmuseum.org

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